NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As property values go up around New York, city and state officials say more and more landlords are trying to force longtime tenants out of their apartments.

The way the law stands now, it is not a crime. But as WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported Wednesday, a plan is afoot to change that.

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Lisa Mathis said her landlord in Crown Heights, Brooklyn has gone as far as to send fake Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to the building to get her neighbors out.

“We have suffered days without electricity or running water,” Mathis said. This is our second winter without heat because our boiler was illegally ripped out.”

Added New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, “The incentive to force rent regulated tenants out their apartments is greater than it’s ever been.”

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But Schneiderman said now, the act is basically only a civil offense.

“It has become clear that our state’s existing criminal laws are simply inadequate,” Schneiderman said.

The legislation makes it a crime to harass tenants in order to get them out. Multiple repeated efforts would be a felony.

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The purpose is to “respond to the needs of tenants who quite simply in this city are under attack,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.