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NYC tenants facing eviction to get lawyers under new law

All tenants facing eviction in the five boroughs will soon get taxpayer-funded lawyers under a bill passed Thursday by the New York City Council.

Under the law, the city will be obliged to supply lawyers to tenants facing eviction — a policy that must be in place within five years. The poorest New Yorkers would get “full legal representation,” while all others would receive brief legal help.

The bill also grants legal services to people for whom the city public-housing authority wants to terminate the leases.

The council also passed a bill requiring ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to offer an option for passengers to tip drivers. One option must allow a tip of at least 20 percent and passengers to enter another tip amount or percentage. Uber recently said it would offer the option on its own, and Lyft has long done so. Uber had opposed tips for a number of reasons, including that it would encourage drivers to spend time in wealthier neighborhoods.

The eviction bill passed with 42 voting in favor and the three-member Republican delegation — council members Steven Matteo, Joseph C. Borelli of Staten Island and Eric A. Ulrich of Queens — against, and I. Daneek Miller of Queens abstaining. The delegation also voted in unison against the tip bill.

Aso passed at Thursday’s council-wide meeting was a bill to require the NYPD to report publicly when property, money or a vehicle is seized and retained. It was approved unanimously.

“The civil forfeiture process has stripped many low-income citizens of their property and belongings without due process and in violation of their constitutional rights,” said Councilmember Ritchie Torres, a bill sponsor.

The speaker of the city council, Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), noted that the bill was passed the day after President Donald Trump’s Justice Department revived a controversial practice allowing local officials to seize cash and property of people who are suspected but not convicted of a crime.

The council also mandated that the city report how often the city’s jail system is sued. The city’s main jail, Rikers Island, has been beset by scandal; the U.S. Department of Justice, suing the city, called it a place of “deep-seated violence” where inmates are brutalized.

Mayor Bill de Blasio must still sign the bills.

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