Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act Of 2019: Changes To New York State’s Landlord-Tenant Laws
On June 14, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act. Many of the changes went into effect immediately. Below is a brief summary of the changes to the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL), Real Property Law (RPL), and General Obligations Law (GOL).
Changes effective June 14, 2019
- RPAPL § 702 was added to prohibit a landlord from collecting fees in a non-payment eviction proceeding, regardless of whether they are considered “added rent.”
- RPAPL § 711 was changed to require a written demand for rent. This must be a 14-day written demand, and oral demands are no longer allowed.
- RPAPL § 731 was changed to provide that a tenant in a non-payment eviction proceeding may pay the full amount of rent due anytime before the court date. The offered rent must be accepted by the landlord.
- RPAPL § 732 was changed to require that the Notice of Petition and Petition must be returnable within 10 days after they are served on the tenant. If the tenant does not answer the Petition within 10 days, the court must enter a judgement for the landlord. (Note: this section applies only in non-payment evictions where the appellate division has provided by rule to adopt this section. The Third Department has not adopted this section.)
- RPAPL § 733 was changed to provide that the Notice of Petition and Petition be served no less than 10 days and no more than 17 days before the court date.
- RPAPL § 743 was changed to eliminate the requirement that a tenant must answer at least three days before the court date if the Petition was served at least 8 days before the court date.
- RPAPL § 745 was changed to require the court to adjourn a trial for not less than 14 days at the request of either party when triable issues of fact are raised.
- RPAPL § 749 was changed to:
- require the warrant of eviction to state the earliest date that the tenant may be locked out;
- provide that the officer executing the warrant must give the tenant at least 14 days’ notice, including holidays and weekends (previously 72 hours’ notice not including holidays and weekends). However, the lockout must occur on a business day;
- provide that the court shall vacate a warrant of eviction when the full amount of rent is tendered or deposited with the court before the tenant is locked out;
- provide that the court has the power to restore a tenant to possession even after the tenant has been locked out, unless the landlord establishes that the tenant withheld rent in bad faith.
- RPAPL § 753 was changed to allow the court to stay or vacate the warrant of eviction before it is executed. The warrant may be stayed for up to a year, depending on the following factors:
- The premises were used as a dwelling;
- The application for a stay was made by the tenant in good faith;
- The tenant cannot find similar premises in the neighborhood (town, village, city, or school district if the tenant has school aged children);
- The tenant has attempted to find alternate housing, but it would cause “extreme hardship” to the tenant or tenant’s family, including factors such as ill health, children’s enrollment in local school; any ongoing condition that would be made worse by the eviction, and any other extenuating circumstances;
- Any substantial hardship to the landlord.
This section not apply to an eviction based on an “objectionable tenancy.”
- RPAPL § 753 was also changed to provide that in an eviction proceeding based on a lease violation, the warrant of eviction shall be stayed for 30 days to allow the tenant to cure the violation.
- RPAPL § 757 was added to provide that court records related to an eviction from a foreclosed property shall be sealed and confidential.
- RPAPL § 768 was added to create a Class A misdemeanor for an unlawful eviction, along with civil penalties of between $1,000 to $10,000 per violation.
- RPL § 223-b was changed to add complaints made either to the landlord or landlord’s agent to protections for retaliatory evictions, in addition to governmental agencies. A landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant for making a complaint based on the warranty of habitability, in addition to the previously covered complaints. Additionally,
- A landlord cannot substantially change the terms of the tenancy in retaliation for tenant complaints;
- If the landlord attempts to evict a tenant within one year of a good faith complaint, there is a rebuttable presumption that the eviction is retaliatory. The landlord must establish a non-retaliatory reason for the eviction to rebut this presumption.
- RPL § 227-e was added to provide that a landlord has a duty to mitigate damages for a tenant vacating the premises early. The landlord must make good faith efforts to rent the premises at either fair market value of the rental amount in the lease, whichever is lower. A new tenant’s lease under those terms terminates the previous lease. The burden of proof is on the landlord, and once the landlord has found a new tenant, the vacating tenant is no longer responsible for rent.
- RPL § 234 was changed to prohibit a landlord from receiving attorney’s fees on a default judgment (when the tenant does not appear in court).
- RPL § 235-e was changed to require a landlord to keep records of receipts for cash rent payments for at least three years. If the rent is paid directly to the landlord, the landlord must provide the receipt immediately. If the rent is not paid directly to the landlord, the landlord must provide the receipt within 15 days.
- If a landlord does not receive rent within five days of the date rent is due, a landlord must send a notice to the tenant that the rent has not been received. The notice must be sent by certified mail, and failure to send this notice is an affirmative defense in an eviction for non-payment of rent.
- RPL § 238-a was added to limit any late fees to $50 or 5% of rent, whichever is less. This late fee cannot be charged until rent is 5 days late. (Note: late fees cannot be recovered in an eviction proceeding.)
- Landlords also cannot charge fees for “processing, review, or acceptance of a [rental] application.” A landlord can only charge for a background or credit check and that charge is limited to the actual cost or $20, whichever is less.
Changes effective July 14, 2019
- RPL § 227-f was added to provide that a landlord cannot refuse to rent or offer a lease to a potential tenant because that tenant was involved in a previous landlord-tenant dispute. If a landlord requests court records or information from a tenant screening bureau, then refuses to rent to a potential tenant, there is a rebuttable presumption that the landlord has violated the statutes.
- The New York State Attorney General may bring an action and may seek civil penalties of $500-$1,000.
- GOL § 7-108 was changed to limit the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit to the amount of one month’s rent. A landlord cannot keep any of the security deposit for normal wear and tear to the premises during the tenancy.
- A landlord must allow the tenant the chance to inspect the rental property both before the tenant moves in and after the tenant moves out. Any conditions that exist at that time must be put in writing and can be used as evidence of the condition of the premises in any dispute about the security deposit.
- A landlord must provide an itemized statement to the tenant within 14 days after the tenant vacates the property, indicating any portion of the security deposit being kept by the landlord and the reason the money is being kept by the landlord. If a landlord fails to provide this statement within the 14 days, the landlord gives up his or her right to keep any of the security deposit.
Changes effective October 12, 2019
- RPL § 226-c was added to require a landlord to provide a written notice when the landlord is either raising rent by 5% or more, or if the landlord intends not to renew the tenancy.
- When a tenant has occupied the rental property for less than one year, the landlord must provide at least 30 days’ written notice.
- When a tenant has occupied the rental property for one year of more, the landlord must provide at least 60 days’ written notice.
- When a tenant had occupied the rental property for more than two years, the landlord must provide at least 90 days’ written notice.
- RPL § 232-b was changed to provide that a tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy outside the city of New York by giving at least one month’s notice.
This Lifeline contains general information, and does not constitute individual legal advice about your situation. You should consult with an attorney for individual legal advice about your situation and to find out how this information applies to your situation. To see if you qualify for free legal services, call the Legal Aid office nearest you.