Landlords could no longer renovate occupied apartments without a tenant’s consent and would be prohibited from subdividing rent-controlled units under a resolution the Rent Control Board is recommending to City Council.

Landlords are renovating and subdividing apartments to displace long-term tenants, said board member Anastasia Foster. They can then charge higher rents to new tenants or take in even more rent if they subdivide rent-controlled units and rent them as medium-term, furnished vacation rentals or corporate housing. Foster said many tenants believe they have to leave their apartments either temporarily or permanently or take illegal buyouts.

“Voluntary renovations should not force tenants to relocate,” Foster said. “If you want to renovate an empty unit, that’s fine.”

Board members urged Council Thursday to create a new local law that only allows landlords to make necessary repairs, not cosmetic or optional upgrades, to an occupied apartment unless the tenant agrees to renovations. The board is also asking Council to enact a law barring landlords from subdividing rent-controlled apartments.

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