Anti-Displacement Policy Toolkit

 Policy Tools for #DevelopmentWithoutDisplacement 



In New York City, large-scale neighborhood rezonings have become central to the City’s housing, land use, and economic development strategy. Former Mayor Bloomberg rezoned an unprecedented 40 percent of the city and current Mayor de Blasio promised that the city will target 15 neighborhoods for rezoning, several of which have already been completed.

Throughout these processes, community-based organizations, policy leaders, and elected officials have consistently raised the need for additional anti-displacement policy options that can be utilized during the planning process. This is especially true for New York City’s low-wealth and low-income communities, immigrants, communities of color, and other vulnerable populations who are most at risk of displacement.

This Anti-Displacement Policy Toolkit was created in order to provide all those doing planning and housing work in NYC with a more comprehensive understanding of what policies could be employed in order to combat residential displacement. We hope this toolkit will help build the capacity of all those engaged in NYC’s planning process with tools we can employ as part of our collective work to end displacement.



The Anti-Displacement Policy Toolkit provides a focused collection of major policies and policy ideas that can help prevent residential housing displacement.

The Toolkit helps organizers, community leaders, policy makers, City agency staff and elected officials identify new policy solutions that could be useful for specific neighborhoods or citywide to protect against displacement.

Use filter dropdown to select anti-displacement policies that are most relevant for your housing criteria. 

To read the full policy write-up, click the Download PDF button to open the PDF in a new window.




This tool would legalize and regulate accessory dwelling units, generally basements and attics in small homes. Many such spaces are currently illegally used as dwelling units, which leaves puts tenants without any regulations or protections and raises safety concerns. Legalization would help bring dwelling units up to code, and provide regulation and protections for an existing source of informal affordable housing.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

tags: small homes, preservation, regulatory, city

This tool would prevent the number of rental units that are affordable to households at or below a specified Area Median Income level or range from dropping below the number of such units established at a baseline year.

Citywide No Net Loss

tags: preservation, multi-family, city

This tool would create a development moratorium which would suspend a landowner's right to obtain approval for new residential development. This policy addresses rapid changes in the development of an area.

Development Moratorium

tags: disincentive, new construction, preservation, multi-family, small homes, city

This tool prohibits landlords from evicting tenants without a ’just cause’ and requires landlords get prior approval from a governmental entity before raising rent above an established cost of living adjustment. The intent of the policy is prevent the arbitrary, discriminatory, or unjust eviction of law abiding tenants from their residences.

Just Cause for Evictions

tags: preservation, multi-family, state, regulatory

This tool requires landlords to give 90 days’ notice of an intention not to renew a lease, raise the rent 5% or more, or evict a tenant without cause. The intent of the policy is to provide tenants sufficient notification of potential changes in their lease status and to provide recourse for those tenants not properly notified in advance.

Notification of Lease Non-Renewal

tags: multi-family, small homes, fee, state

This tool ensures an attorney to represent low-income tenants being taken to housing court for eviction. The intent is to shift the balance of power in housing court, which currently weighs heavily towards landlords.

Right to Counsel

tags: preservation, city, small homes, multi-family, regulatory, predatory equity

This tool gives tenants the right to sue their landlords for using threats or disruptive tactics to try to force them from their rental units. Offending landlords face per-apartment fines.

Tenant Protection Act

tags: regulatory, preservation, multi-family, predatory equity, state

This tool would prevent the release of information about tenants who are involved in legal action against their landlords. In most municipalities, those names are released a certain period after the suit is brought, regardless of which party brings the suit or which party prevails. Blacklists make renting in the future extremely difficult and outlawing them is strengthens tenant rights to engage housing court actions.

Blacklisting Ban

tags: preservation, regulatory, city

This tool enables a private, non-profit corporation to secure and maintain access to land in perpetuity for public benefit. CLTs are distinct because they can separate the ownership of land from any structure(s) on the land and because they are controlled through a democratically governed community board or membership model that can be open to CLT occupants and other local residents or stakeholders.

Community Land Trust (CLT)

tags: development, multi-family, small homes, incentive, city

This tool requires landlords to pay an annual tax for homes that are declared vacant for six or more months of a year. The intent of the policy is to dissuade landlords from holding habitable building stock offline and thereby decreasing the City’s overall available housing stock.

Empty Home Tax

tags: tax, preservation, multi-family, small homes, state, city

This tool would require landlords of residential properties to apply for and receive a license as a stipulation of operating and maintaining non-owner occupied residential units in the City.

Landlord Licensing

tags: preservation, small homes, multi-family, regulatory, state, city

This tool requires landlords pay a tax surcharge on non-primary residences, i.e. second homes. The intent of the policy is to increase the available housing stock by discouraging the ownership of multiple underutilized residences and putting these vacant units back on the market.

Pied-à-terre Tax

tags: tax, preservation, small homes, multi-family, state

This tool creates a "Speculation Watch List" of recently sold apartment buildings where low rent-paying tenants may be at increased risk of harassment and displacement pressure. Under this program, the City will compile and disseminate a list of buildings where data suggests that the sale of the building was based on speculative assumptions. With this Watch List, community groups and the City can better target outreach, education, and other program strategies to protect tenants.

Speculation Watch List

tags: predatory equity, multi-family, city

This tool would require landlords applying for building renovation permits to go through an investigatory process to determine whether their building has a history of tenant harassment. Where harassment is found, landlords would be unable to access renovation permits unless they agreed to permanently set aside a portion of the building as affordable housing. The intent is to discourage tenant harassment by making it an impediment to future profits.

Certificate of No Harassment

tags: preservation, multi-family, disincentive, city, predatory equity

This tool protects the health and safety of tenants in buildings where construction is occurring, and prevents construction from being used as a means of harassment.

Construction Protections for Tenants

tags: preservation, regulatory, city, multi-family

This tool would impose an additional fee on the total sales price of certain multi-unit residential properties that are sold within five years of purchase. The intent of the policy is to dissuade properties from being flipped, i.e. purchased and resold for a higher value within short periods of time.

Flip Tax aka Anti-Speculation Tax

tags: tax, small homes, multi-family, state

This tool would allow state government licensing of non-bank multi-family lenders to create public oversight to discourage speculative lending. Non-bank lenders are playing an increasing and increasingly dangerous role in multi-family lending, their lending standards are unregulated and speculative underwriting contributes to rising tenant displacement pressure.

Non-Bank Multi-Family Lender Licensing

tags: fee, predatory equity, multi-family, preservation, multi-family, small homes, state

This tool would require landlords to pay a relocation fee to tenants who have been evicted without a just cause or who have to move as a result of high rent increases. The intent of the policy is to discourage landlords from engaging in no-cause evictions and to compensate tenants for the economic hardship of being required to move.

Rental Relocation Assistance

tags: preservation, fee, multi-family, city

This tool would offer a tax benefit to owners of private, unsubsidized rental units to keep their units affordable by offering below-market rents. The intent of the policy is to preserve the stock of unregulated affordable housing.

Tax Credits for Unregulated Units

tags: tax, preservation, incentive, multi-family, city



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This project was made possible through the support of the Neighborhoods First Fund, who had the vision to help better equip NYC communities with the research, analysis, and tools necessary to tackle displacement in their neighborhoods and citywide.

The Neighborhoods First Fund is a philanthropic collaborative formed in 2015 to support the engagement of New York City’s low-wealth, low-income communities in the planning processes that shape their future–particularly the rezonings through which the de Blasio administration will implement its ambitious affordable housing plan.   

We applaud and thank The Neighborhoods First Fund for their leadership and support for this project and their on-going commitment to ensuring community engagement in the planning process.







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