The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019
NOTE: WE AT INGLENOOK REALTY ARE NOT LAWYERS AND THE BELOW BLOG POST SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS IS SIMPLY OUR INTERPRETATION. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY BEFORE TAKING ANY ACTION ON THE BELOW.
If you’re a landlord in New York State, then it's very important that you understand the full scope of the The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
Governor Cuomo enacted The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act in June 2019. Many were made aware, but we still find a lot of uncertainty surrounding the new legislation the more we speak with current and prospective landlords. Here is everything you need to know:
You can’t hold tenants liable for vacating the premise prior to the end of lease. Rent owed must be mitigated.
Before the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, landlords could hold tenants responsible for all rent owed as and when it became due according to the lease. So, if you leased an apartment for a year starting on January 1st, and your tenant abandoned the property on February 1st, you were not required to relet the apartment. You could let it sit vacant for the remainder of the lease and collect rent from the former tenant.
Under this new legislation, you must make a good faith effort to release the property to limit potential damages against the previous occupant.
Security deposits are now regulated.
The security deposit cannot exceed one months rent. Additionally, a landlord cannot request advance payments of first and last months’ rent on top of the security deposit.
Furthermore, the landlord must refund the entire security deposit or advance to the tenant once they’ve left the property. The landlord can still retain part of the security deposit for reasonable and itemized costs. Some examples are non-payment of utilities, damages to the unit, or the costs related to removing the tenants belongings.
Regardless of who decides to terminate the tenancy, landlords are now required to notify tenants in writing of their right to request an inspection before leaving, and their right to be present during the inspection.
Lastly, within 14 days after the tenant has left the property, an itemized statement must be provided by the landlord explaining why the entire security deposit was not funded.
No more application fees
As a landlord, you can no longer charge a non-refundable application fee for processing a rental application.
You can still charge background check fees...but…
You are still able to charge background check fees provided the cost of reimbursement does not exceed either the actual cost of the background check or $20. In the event your prospective tenant gives you a copy of a background or credit check that took place within the last thirty days, all fees must be waived.
Landlords can’t tack on a late payment of rent until after 5 days.
Tenants now have five days to pay their rent due before you can charge a late fee. Additionally, late payment fees are capped. You can only charge either $50 or 5% of the monthly rent; whichever is lesser.
Self-help is now a Class A misdemeanor
Most advise against this anyway, but you can no longer re-enter the premises in the event your tenant defaults on a payment of rent. If a tenant has occupied a residential unit for 30 consecutive days or more, it is now unlawful to attempt to evict that tenant through the following means:
A. Threatening to use force
B. Deliberately interfering with disturbing the “comfort, repose, peace and/or quiet” of the tenant
C. Taking actions that prevent the tenant from lawfully occupying the unit (i.e. removing the tenant's personal property from the space, changing the locks, removing the door at the entrance of the unity, barricading the entrance…)
If you choose to violate this part of the act, you could receive a penalty ranging anywhere between $1000 - $10,000 on top of the class A misdemeanor. It’s best to get a warrant of eviction prior to removing a tenant.
Regarding Retaliatory Evictions
Prior to the Act, landlords were already prohibited from going after their tenant if a good faith complaint was made by them to a governmental authority for possible violations of health, safety or other laws or ordinances.
Now, the scope of both a tenants protections against retaliatory evictions and actions deemed retaliatory are expanded under the new act. Attempting to evict a tenant after a good faith complaint is made to either the landlord or the landlords agent is also deemed retaliatory. Also, complaints made by the tenant regarding the warranty of habitability and the landlords duty to repair are also considered protected.
If you plan on increasing rent by more than 5% of the current rental rate or choose not to renew a tenancy you need to provide written notice to the tenant. If you don’t, the tenant can continue to occupy the unit under the existing lease terms. In the tenants occupancy & lease term is less than a year, thirty days notice is required. If it's between 1 & 2 years, sixty days notice is required. Anything over 2 years requires at least 90 days notice. The tenancy will continue from the day you gave written notice to the tenant, until the applicable notice period expires.
Limitations set on collection of damages in eviction proceedings
Simply put, you can’t collect anything more than the agreed upon monthly or weekly rent in an eviction hearing. Prior to the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, landlords were able to collect additional rent during an eviction proceedings as damages.
If a tenant makes a full payment prior to an eviction hearing, the grounds for eviction will be rendered moot.
As a landlord, you must accept the payment made by a tenant if it’s made prior to the eviction hearing. As such, the case will be considered resolved.
Expansions from Stays of Warrant Evictions
A court can now issue a stay of warrant of eviction for a period of up to one year upon application of the tenant. Previously, the 6 months was the maximum amount of time a stay could be granted. Additionally, the following conditions must be met in order for the court to issue a stay of warrant of eviction:
The premises were used for dwelling purposes.
The application was made in good faith.
After making reasonable efforts to find new premises, the applicant is unable to secure a dwelling comparable to the one previously occupied by the tenant in its neighborhood.
Not granting a stay would cause “extreme hardship” to the applicants family.
Certain scenarios would be defined as causing “extreme hardship” under the newer legislation. The court would consider any “extenuating life circumstances affecting the ability of the applicant or the applicants family to relocate and maintain quality of life”, like a family member with a serious health condition or enrollment in a local school examples of extreme hardship.
Additional procedural protections for tenants regarding eviction proceedings
As a landlord, you can no longer issue a 3 day eviction notice. You must make a written demand for rent with 14 days notice to the tenant. The officer to whom the warrant was directed must also deliver notice in writing to the person being evicted at least 14 days in advance. Time periods for service of process were also increased. At least 10 days, and at most 17 days notice is required prior to the date the petition is to be heard. Before the Act, at least 5 days and at most 12 days were the notice requirements.
Adjournments of eviction proceedings were also expanded. Now, the court will adjourn an eviction proceeding at the request of either the tenant or landlord for 14 days without either party demonstrating that adjournment is necessary to gather witnesses or additional evidence.
New Defense to Eviction Proceedings
As a landlord, you are now required to deliver written notice (through certified mail) of failure to pay rent within 5 days of the due date in the lease, or a tenant can use this as an affirmative defense should an eviction proceeding take place.
Lawful Source of Income is now a protected class in New York State
Just in case you weren’t aware that Lawful Source of Income is now considered to be a protected class for the sale or lease of any real property in New York State, we thought it might be helpful to include this in the post.
The key thing to know is that as of April 2019, owners, landlords, property managers and rental agents can’t refuse prospective tenants who receive any type lawful housing assistance.
It should be noted that this post is intended for those in traditional residential lease. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible, as this is a lot to take in and may even be a surprise to some. We understand if you have questions. If you need more information, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of our expert team members!