The act was timed for dramatic effect.

In the middle of his State of the City speech on Thursday, Mayor de Blasio paused and signed an executive order.

"I will be signing an executive order to create this new office,” de Blasio said. “In fact, I think, I will do it right now."

With the swish of a pen, he created a new office within his administration, the Mayor's Office to Protect Tenants.

Its goal: to be the central place for tenant issues, leading the way on anti-harassment initiatives.

And it came with a serious warning.

"We'll use every tool we have,” de Blasio said. “We'll fine the landlords. We'll penalize the landlords and if the fines and the penalties don't cut it, we will seize their buildings."

The de Blasio administration is planning on seizing as many as 40 properties a year from bad landlords who harass tenants. The city would transfer ownership to non-profit groups.

The move will need approval from the City Council.

It resembles one that already exists, called the third-party transfer program. In those cases, properties are taken over because of back taxes. That program became controversial last year after some questionable seizures in Brooklyn were made.

With that in mind, the housing chair of the Council already released a statement saying the new program raised concerns.

And the City Council Speaker's office did the same thing, declining to say it would support the proposal.

Some actually in the audience on Thursday were similarly suspect.

"When you look at the program in areas of Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx, you've seen that it's been used in an erroneous way," said Borough President of the Bronx Ruben Diaz Jr. 

Landlord groups, too, are raising some questions.

"To me it's just grandstanding,” said Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association. “I don't know why you need another law to do this. It’s absolutely not necessary. There are enough laws on the books right now. They just need to be enforced by the agencies charged with enforcing them."

As for the office, we are told it will be up and running by the end of the year. It’s slated to have just five employees.