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Dispossess proceedings and new tenant protections under Housing Stability and Tenant Protection act

The New York State Senate, together with the State Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved a sweeping overhaul of New York State’s rent laws, offering Tenants new protections against evictions and rent increases, effective June 14, 2019. This law makes permanent the state's rent regulation laws, initially passed as chapter 576 of the laws of 1974, including the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA), which provided the process by which local governments declared a housing emergency, and by which they administer their rent regulation program.

As it relates to dispossess proceedings, the following changes were implemented:

  • Strengthens the existing retaliatory eviction law (prohibiting retaliatory eviction by a landlord against a tenant who makes a good faith complaint to them alleging a violation of the warranty of habitability) by requiring the landlord to prove that an eviction is not retaliation if it occurs within one year (was six months), of the tenant making a good faith complaint.

  • Reforms the eviction process so tenants have more time to pay rent owed, fix lease violations or get a lawyer before losing their home, and also gives them more time to find a new home if necessary.

  • Expands the circumstances under which a judge may consider a hardship and stay an eviction proceeding, including serious ill health, significant exacerbation of an ongoing condition, a child's enrollment in a local school, and any other extenuating life circumstances affecting the ability of the applicant or the applicant's family to relocate and maintain quality of life.

In addition, a number of provisions were implemented to increase protection of tenant rights with regards to refusal to lease, security deposits, and regarding rent overcharges.

  • Extends the statute of limitations for tenants who claim their landlords have overcharged them from four years to six years.

  • No landlord of a residential premises shall refuse to rent or refuse to offer a lease to a potential tenant, on the basis that the potential tenant was involved in a past or pending L&T action or summary proceeding. The court will presume that the landlord has violated this section if the tenant shows that the landlord or an agent of the landlord requested information from a tenant screening bureau for that potential tenant, or otherwise inspected court records relating to a potential tenant, and the person subsequently refuses to rent or offer a lease to the potential tenant.

  • Limits security deposits to one month's rent, gives the tenants the right to ask for a walkthrough inspection with the landlord before and at the end of occupancy, and requires the landlord to provide an itemized account of why any security deposit is retained.

  • Once a Tenant files a complaint regarding a rent overcharge, Landlord must establish (by a preponderance of the evidence) that a rent overcharge was neither willful not attributable to their negligence in order for the Landlord to avoid treble (3x) damages. This removes the ability for owners to avoid treble damages if they voluntarily return the amount of the rent overcharge prior to a decision being made by a court or the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). (However, in no event shall such treble damage penalty be assessed against an owner based solely on said owner's failure to file a timely or proper initial or annual rent registration statement)

This publication is issued by Simon Meyrowitz & Meyrowitz, P.C. for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship. To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that unless specifically indicated otherwise, any tax advice contained in this publication was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any tax-related matter addressed herein. In some jurisdictions, this publication may be considered attorney advertising.

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