NYC considers law requiring landlords to provide free internet

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Landlords in New York City are already on the hook for their tenants’ heat and hot water. A City Council proposal would add internet service to that list.

The measure, introduced Thursday by Council member Ben Kallos, would require owners of multifamily buildings to provide free broadband internet to their tenants. If the bill is passed, existing buildings with 10 or more apartments would have until Jan. 1, 2026, to comply.

“Every New York City apartment comes with heat, hot water, electricity, and a phone line. It’s time to add internet, so it is there and just works when a tenant moves in,” Kallos said in a statement. “We can finally end the digital divide and bridge the homework gap by making sure every apartment in New York City comes with internet.”

He pointed to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control, which found that vaccination rates were “significantly associated with household internet access in New York City.”

Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, is pitching this idea with just a little more than two months left in office. The proposal will almost certainly face pushback from property owners. The bill language specifies that the cost of the internet service, including any related charges, cannot be passed along to tenants. Landlords, however, would be able to apply to the city for some financial assistance.

Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, a landlord group, called the bill “yet another unfunded mandate on rent-stabilized housing providers.”

“In a city with a homeless crisis the councilman should be focused on building more housing and lowering the operating costs of the housing we currently have which in turn lowers the need for rent increases,” he said in an email. “What’s next? Free gyms? Housing has costs. Costs that are paid by rent. Getting out of the Upper East Side would help.”

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