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Beyond 311: How to Direct Complaints to NYC, State or Federal Agencies

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Landlord-Tenant Disputes: Heat and Hot Water, Eviction, Foreclosure

Landlord-tenant disputes are a fact that a large percentage of New York City residents must confront at one time or another if they live in this city. It is, for many, a frustrating experience. If more New York City residents knew exactly how and where to go with their specific complaint, they might not find the experience as challenging as most do. For example, landlord-tenant issues in New York may involve rent stabilized or rent controlled apartments or a residence not subject to any form of rent regulation.

One source of useful information about events affecting all city tenants is Tenant.net. Landlord-tenant issues affecting rent stabilized or rent controlled apartments in New York City come under the jurisdiction of The New York State Homes and Community Renewal Agency. And you can contact that Agency with complaints at 718-739-6400.

If you are of limited means or are indigent and qualify for the "Section 8" housing program administered by New York City Housing Authority you can contact the City Housing Authority at 212-306-3000 about your landlord or the condition of your apartment. Finally, if you have a complaint about heat and hot water (or the lack thereof) file a complaint anonymously and without giving your apartment number to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development ("HPD") and ask for the "complaint number" in case you need to follow up on it. And if a complaint has been filed — or an inspection performed — and there is no action by the New York City HPD, then follow up by contacting the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Agency at 212-863-8307.

Library of Congress via Wikimedia CommonsLibrary of Congress via Wikimedia CommonsIf you get in a legal dispute with your landlord or face eviction you should review this post on free or low cost legal services in New York City. And if you live in "Mitchell-Lama" housing in the City there is a complaint Line at 1-866-463-7753.

If you are in danger of foreclosure because of default on mortgage payments you may qualify for free legal advice or a re-negotiation of the loan at the Subprime Foreclosure Prevention Hotline: 1-866-760-3745 and 1-888-736-8457 (in Spanish).

Complaints with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTA)

One can file a general complaint[Subway Riders, New York City, 1914.], Digital ID 809888, New York Public Library with the MTA at: 718-330-1234 Option 4. However, it is more effective to complain about a specific issue involving a bus, subway, transit delay, crime or an ADA compliance issue or contact the MTA's Lost and Found.

However, another remedy is to use resources compiled by the Straphanger's Campaign: a targeted list of MTA staff and other agencies that take complaints and tips on how to make the complaint more effective — and exactly who to address them to including the MTA's President, your subway line's General Manager and how to identify and contact your city councilman.

Consumer Fraud and "Rip Offs"

If you believe that you have been the victim of consumer fraud or have paid money for services either not rendered or performed incompetently there is a remedy. You may file a Complaint with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs ("D.C.A.") or call (212) 487-4140. If you have been the victim of consumer fraud, it may also be a good idea to report the fraud to the New York State Attorney General's Office of Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau (that also deals with credit card fraud; identity theft; investment or securities fraud and online business or charitable fraud) or call 1-800-771-7755.

As to the growing problem of identity theft, consumers should immediately notify all banks or other issuers of any credit or debit cards of loss, misuse or theft. Next, it is a good idea to request that a "Fraud Alert" be placed on credit applications in your name for varying periods of time to the three primary credit rating agencies: Experian; TransUnion and Equifax. Also report fraud to the New York Police Department — they may or may not find the culprit, but you will definitely want to obtain a written police report in order to make any insurance or other claims on your losses. Finally, don't forget to contact issuers of basic identification materials lost or stolen: New York State Driver's license; Social Security Card; New York Public Library Card and any other relevant agencies.

Discrimination based on Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation

Drinking fountain on the county courthouse lawn, Halifax, North Carolina.,[African American boy standing at a segregated drinking fountain next to a sign reading, , Digital ID 1260105, New York Public LibraryThis includes employment discrimination, housing discrimination or discrimination by a business, restaurant, bar, retail store or governmental or non-profit entity or by their employees. If you encounter discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status you may file a complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commision or telephone: 212-306-7450.

You may file a complaint with The New York State Division of Human Rights at (212) 961-8650 or a complaint with the New York State Attorney General at (800) 771-7755 or use the Complaint Referral Service of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1-800-669-4000.

Comments

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I have used the 311 website

I have used the 311 website to contact the station manager at my subway stop twice, once to complain about a light on the stairs being out (during winter when things were dangerously icy!) and another time when there was something gross I won't describe, also in a high traffic area. Within the day both were resolved and I really don't know if it was coincidence or not but it's nice to feel like it was worth it to take some action! I also recommend using the FTC for scammy telemarketers ("Your car warranty is expired!" But I don't have a car?!) because it can help them to "detect patterns of wrong-doing." http://www.ftc.gov/complaint

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