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Making the case: New York statutes currently say only that landlords must act with “due diligence” when violations are recorded, according to Bronx assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who has backed a bolstered 7A process since Jashawn Parker’s death. “People shouldn’t forget that maybe that child might not have been dead if the landlord made repairs that he was supposed to make,” he says. A tweak to housing law could counter what appears to be a judicial bias toward protecting property rights even in the face of the most serious building hazards.

Voicing concerns: Even under a strengthened 7A law, tenants’ and landlords’ fates would still depend on which judge got their case. Giving judges a broader set of tools is one thing; getting them to use them is another. Some judges might still be reluctant to aggressively pursue landlords.

Status: Dinowitz introduced legislation making this change in 2002, and it has been passed by the Assembly, but the fact that most advocates we spoke to hadn’t heard of the bill suggests there’s little chance it will survive the Senate and become law anytime soon.

Daniel Rosenblum and Matthew Perlman contributed reporting and writing to this article.