NYC launches tenant protection campaign

NEW YORK — New York City launched a campaign on new tenant protections Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration rolled out the media campaign, which is designed to educate tenants on their new rights under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 and gives renters in the city information they need to hold their landlords accountable.

“When a landlord tries to push out a tenant by making their home unlivable, a team of inspectors and law enforcement will be on the ground to stop it in time,” said de Blasio in his State of the City address. “If fines and penalties don’t cut it, we will seize buildings and put them into the hands of a nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.”

The new law makes it harder for landlords to evict all tenants and strengthens the protections for New Yorkers living in rent-regulated apartments.

They include protection from large security deposits, limits on how rent can increase, and limits how much landlords can charge regulated tenants for building improvements.

The ads will run until Dec. 15 and will be displayed on subways, bus shelters, small businesses, Staten Island ferry terminals, newspapers, Link kiosks and online.

New protections for all tenants include:

Rent Increase Notice – Landlords are required to provide notice to tenants if they intend to raise rent more than 5% or if they do not intend to renew the lease.

Unlawful Eviction – Unlawful eviction occurs when a landlord evicts or attempts to evict a tenant without a warrant of eviction or other court order. Unlawful evictions are now a misdemeanor punishable by civil penalty fines of $1,000-$10,000 per violation.

 Warrants and Stays of Evictions – After a judgement has been granted in Housing Court, a judge will issue an order indicating the day after which a city marshal may execute a warrant of eviction. The marshal must now serve a 14-day notice upon the tenant prior to execution of the warrant of eviction. The court may stay the issuance of a warrant for up to one year.

Reversing Evictions – Many tenants are evicted for non-payment of rent. Changes to the law make it easier for families to reverse eviction decisions for non-payment of rent if they are able to come up with the money before the city marshal arrives.

Apartment Application Fee – Application fees for an apartment are limited to fees for background checks and credit checks, and now cannot exceed $20. The $20 limitation applies to licensed real estate brokers and salespeople acting as an agent of the landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor.

Late Fees – Late fees can only be charged if rent is received more than five days after the due date established in the lease, and cannot exceed $50 or five percent of the rent, whichever is less.

New protections for rent-regulated tenants include:

Elimination of Vacancy Decontrol – Owners can no longer remove a unit from rent stabilization after a vacancy if the rent has reached a certain dollar threshold. Previously, owners could deregulate stabilized units and charge incoming tenants market rate once the unit became vacant if the rent amount reached $2,774.76.

Elimination of Vacancy Bonus – Prior to June 14, 2019, owners of rent stabilized apartments were awarded up to a 20% bonus to the “legal” rent in between tenancies. That bonus has been eliminated.

Rent Increases are Based on the Current Rent You Pay – Today, rent increases with some very narrow exceptions – currently set by the Rent Guidelines Board at 1.5% for a one year lease and 2.5% for a two-year lease – must be based on the preferential rent.

Limits on How Much Owners can Charge Tenants for Building Improvements – The new laws significantly limit the rent increases that can be charged for Major Capital Improvements (MCI) and Individual Apartment Improvements (IAI). Examples of MCIs include new boilers, and new roofs. Examples of IAIs include bathroom or kitchen renovations. 

Anyone who has questions about their rights or fears they are being illegally harassed by their landlord should call 311 or visit the tenant protection website. 

Correction: A video report that contained inaccurate information has been removed from this article.

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