What Queens Borough Landlords and Tenants Need To Know: About The “Statewide Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act of 2019”
With passage of the "Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019" law, significant changes have been made regarding rent control and rent stabilization, including but not limited to vacancy increases, deregulation, preferential rent, Major Capital Improvements, Individual Apartment Improvements, security deposits, and many other areas.
The significant changes that most impact owner-occupied dwellings with less than four units and small property landlords of non-rent control and non-rent stabilized residential units have not gotten as much attention.
But "Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019" includes many provisions that apply statewide to any renter, including restricting rent increases for mobile homes, making it harder to evict tenants, and limiting security deposits to one month's rent, with provisions in place that make it easier to recover deposits. It also strengthens tenant protections by:
- Classifying unlawful eviction as a Class A misdemeanor;
- Banning the use of tenant “blacklists”—records of renters who've had cases in housing court—to screen prospective renters;
- Requiring landlords to provide at least 30 days' notice if they plan to increase the rent by more than five percent or if they are not going to renew the lease;
- Allowing the courts to delay evictions by up to one year if renters can't find a similar residence in the same neighborhood, or if the eviction would cause “extreme hardship.”
What follows is a brief summary of changes that impact all rental units. Part M of the “Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019” enacts the following changes which would apply to all rental units, regardless of stabilization status:
When signing a new lease:
- Limits security deposits to one month's rent, the ultimate refund of which may only be reduced for reasons that track common law.
- Gives 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.
- Allows pre-occupancy and pre-vacatur inspections, mandates that “tenant... have the opportunity to cure any such condition before the end of the tenancy”; mandates that “[w]ithin  days after... tenant has vacated...premises, ...landlord... provide... tenant with... itemized statement indicating... basis for... amount of... deposit retained, if any, and... return any remaining portion of... deposit to... tenant; and mandates that “[i]f... landlord fails to provide... tenant with... statement and deposit within  days, ...landlord shall forfeit any right to retain any portion of... deposit”
- Bans the use of “tenant blacklists.” Prohibits owners, effective 7/14/19, from “refus[ing] to rent or offer... lease to... potential tenant on the basis that... potential tenant was involved in... past or pending landlord-tenant action or summary proceeding,” with “rebuttable presumption that... person is in violation of this section if it is established that... person requested information from... tenant screening bureau relating to... potential tenant or otherwise inspected court records”
- Amends Judiciary Law §212(1) to forbid “unified court system to sell any data regarding judicial proceedings related to residential tenancy, rent or eviction to any third party ... includ[ing] data collected, stored or utilized by any third-party vendors who have contracts with the unified court system”
- Limits application fees. Limits cumulative fees for background checks and credit checks to lesser of actual cost or $20, which must be waived “if... potential tenant provides... copy of... background check or credit check conducted within... past  days,” prohibits collection of fee therefor “unless... landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor provides... potential tenant with... copy of... background check or credit check and... receipt or invoice from... entity” that performed it.
- Prohibits charging residential tenants late fee unless rent more than 5 days late and limits such fee to lesser of $50 or 5% of monthly rent, notwithstanding any contrary provision in lease.
- Prohibits “fees, charges or penalties other than rent” from being sought in residential summary eviction proceeding, notwithstanding any contrary provision in lease.
- Prohibits owner's right to recover attorney's fees upon obtaining default judgment against residential tenant in eviction or any action arising under lease, notwithstanding any contrary provision in lease.
For lease renewals:
- Prohibits denying lease renewals or an unreasonable rent increase as a retaliatory measure when code complaints have been made.
- Sets a standard period of time for a landlord to provide notice of refusal to renew or of a rent increase greater than five percent, depending on length of tenancy.*
- Regulates and Restricts, effective 10/12/19, owner's right to terminate month-to-month residential tenancy on 1 months' notice to tenant.
- Mandates, effective 10/12/19, if the owner intends to raise the rent above 5% or intends to not renew the tenancy, the owner must send notice. If the tenant has occupied the unit for less than one year, 30 days' notice is required. For a tenant that occupies a unit for more than one year but less than two and has a lease of more than one year but less than two, 60 days' notice is required. For tenants that have occupied a unit more than two years or a lease term or at least two years, 90 days' notice is required. In event of owner's failure to provide tenant with foregoing notice, mandates that “occupant's lawful tenancy... continue under... existing terms of... tenancy from... date on which... [owner] gave actual written notice until... notice period has expired,” notwithstanding any contrary provision in lease
When ending a lease:
- Provides a “cure” path on behalf of the tenant to fix any issues to secure the full or partial security deposit amount.
- Limits recoverable rents for early lease termination.
- Warranty of habitability is amended to include a duty to repair, thus extending the warranty to include a retaliatory eviction due to complaints on housing condition.
- A finding of retaliatory eviction carries severe penalties. Strengthens the existing retaliatory eviction law [except for owner-occupied dwellings with less than four units] by 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 and requiring the landlord to prove that an eviction is not retaliation if it occurs within one year, rather than only six months, of the tenant making a good faith complaint.
- Modifies rebuttable presumption of retaliatory intent under RPL §223-b where eviction action commenced within 1 year (up from 6 months) of complaint or action by tenant, even where tenant alleged to be in arrears or otherwise in violation of lease.
- Permits tenants to recover attorney's fees and costs in action against owner for retaliation under RPL §223-b.
- Disallows eviction if court finds that owner even partially motivated by retaliation under RPL §223-b in commencing action.
Changes to landlord-tenant proceedings:
- For all apartments, rent stabilized or fair market, RPL §226-c requires notice of rent increase of more than 5% or a notice of non-renewal depending on the term of the lease and RPL 232-a requires this notice to be served by a process server service, not mail.
- For all apartments, under RPL §232-e, a Landlord has a duty to mitigate damages. Requires landlords to make a reasonable, good faith attempt at re-letting a unit if a tenant vacates before their lease expires.
- For all apartments, RPL §238-a limits fees that can be sought in a summary proceeding except if provided by regulation or statute.
- For all apartments, RPAPL §702 definition of Rent.
- Requires written notice of late payments. Provides that if rent is more than 5 days late and lessor or agent fails to “send... lessee, by certified mail, ...written notice stating the failure to receive such rent payment,” such failure on part of lessor or agent “may be used as... affirmative defense by such lessee in... eviction proceeding based on... non-payment of rent”
- Rent demands are now 14 days, not 3. “payment to... landlord of... full amount of rent due, when such payment is made at any time prior to... hearing on petition, shall be accepted by... landlord and renders [nonpayment proceeding] moot”.
- Extends return date for commercial or residential holdover petition from 5-12 to 10-17 days.
- In summary eviction proceedings, grants commercial and residential tenants and owners right to 14-day adjournment of initial trial date, with “second or subsequent request for adjournment [to] be granted in the court's sole discretion”
- RPAPL §745: Where you used to be able to seek use and occupancy in court as of the date the (notice of petition and petition) NPP was served, after Tenant adjournment of more than 30 days and get dismissal of defenses and counterclaims if not paid, now it is 60 days, a Tenant request to seek counsel does not count, the order to pay is only as of the date of the order not back to when NPP served and it must now be on written notice and if not paid pursuant to the court order, remedy is not dismissal of defenses and counterclaims, but a trial subject to Court's scheduling. Dismissal of tenant's defenses and counterclaims no longer the sanction for failure to pay deposit, and immediate trial not the sanction for failure to pay or to pay timely; and Civil Court has discretion to extend tenant's deadline to pay deposit “for good cause shown,” and power to waive deposit requirement altogether. No Court order if Tenant can make a colorable claim of overcharge or hazardous or immediately hazardous conditions.
- Repeals RPAPL §747-a, which forbids NYC Housing Court to grant stay of execution of warrant of eviction more than 5 days after issuance of judgment, unless tenant proves that judgment amount was fully paid to owner or deposited with court.
- RPAPL §749: Marshall notice now 14 not 3 days. Eliminated that issuance of warrant cancels lease [impacts bankruptcy], Court now has power at any time to stay, vacate or restore. Now Tenant in a nonpayment proceeding can pay any time before execution of warrant. Before it used to be 5 days.
- Amends RPAPL §749 to repeal provision that warrant of eviction nullifies lease and landlord-tenant relationship, and to modify eviction procedures as follows:
- warrant must “stat[e]... earliest date upon which execution may occur pursuant to the order of the court”;
- marshal may only remove occupant, and possessions of occupant “named in the proceeding, provided upon a showing of good cause, the court may issue a stay of re-letting or renovation of the premises for a reasonable period of time”;
- marshal must execute warrant on “business day,” with 14 days' (up from 3 days') notice to occupants;
- empowers court to “stay... warrant for good cause shown prior to the execution thereof, or to restore the tenant to possession subsequent to execution of the warrant”; and
- in nonpayment cases, obligates court to “vacate... warrant upon tender or deposit with the court of... full rent due at any time prior to its execution, unless [owner] establishes that... tenant withheld the rent due in bad faith”
- Repeals RPAPL §751(4), which empowers court to grant maximum 4-month discretionary stay of warrant of eviction
- Expands the circumstances under which a judge may consider a hardship and stay an eviction proceeding.
- RPAPL §753: Instead of court having discretion to give only up to 6-month stay if pay use and occupancy, it is now one year and where it applied only to tenants, it now applies to occupants. Factors to consider include extreme hardship for the Tenant. Changes the time to cure defaults after trial from 10 to 30 days.
- Amends RPAPL §753 as follows:
- to empower any competent court, statewide, in any proceeding to recover possession of real property, include for purpose of demolition of entire building, to “stay... issuance of...warrant and also stay any execution to collect... costs of the proceeding” for maximum of 1 year (up from 6months) on grounds of extreme hardship to applicant for stay, newly defined as “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... applicant or... applicant's family to relocate and maintain quality of life. The court shall consider any substantial hardship the stay may impose on the landlord in determining whether to grant... stay or in setting... length or other terms of... stay.
- In [NYC], the term ‘neighborhood' shall be construed to mean (i) the same town, village or city where the applicant now resides, or (ii) if the applicant has school aged children residing with him or her, ‘neighborhood' shall mean the school district where such children attend or are eligible to attend”;
- to provide that occupant's deposit with court, upon which extreme hardship stay is conditioned, need not “include all rent unpaid by the occupant prior to the period of the stay”; and 3) where proceeding to recover possession is based on substantial breach of lease, to obligate court to grant stay of 30 (up from 10) days for tenant to cure breach.
- Prohibits, on pain of misdemeanor conviction and fine ranging from $1,000-10,000 per violation, intentional commission/omission or assistance in commission/omission of act or acts constituting unlawful eviction, defined as follows: “to evict or attempt to evict... occupant of... dwelling unit who has lawfully occupied [it]for  consecutive days or longer or who has entered into... lease with respect to such dwelling except to...extent permitted by law...[,] by: (i) using or threatening... use of force to induce... occupant to vacate...; or (ii) engaging in... course of conduct which interferes with or is intended to interfere with or disturb... comfort, repose, peace or quiet of such occupant in... use or occupancy of... dwelling unit, to induce... occupant to vacate...[,] including, but not limited to, ...interruption or discontinuance of essential services; or (iii) engaging or threatening to engage in any other conduct which prevents or is intended to prevent such occupant from...lawful occupancy of such dwelling unit or to induce... occupant to vacate...[,] including, but not limited to, removing... occupant's possessions from... dwelling unit, removing... [dwelling unit entrance] door...; removing, plugging or otherwise rendering... lock on such entrance door inoperable, or changing... lock on such entrance door without supplying... occupant with... key”
- Prohibits, on pain of maximum fine of $100 fine “per day from...date on which restoration to occupancy is requested until... date on which restoration occurs,” for maximum period of 6 months, owner's “fail[ure] to take all reasonable and necessary action to restore to occupancy an occupant of a dwelling unit who either vacates, has been removed from or is otherwise prevented from occupying... unit as the result of any of the acts or omissions [constituting unlawful eviction as defined above] and to provide to such occupant a dwelling unit within such [building] suitable for occupancy, after being requested to do so by such occupant or...representative of such occupant, if such owner either committed such unlawful acts or omissions or knew or had reason to know of such unlawful acts or omissions, or if such acts or omissions occurred within seven days prior to such request”
Co-Op/Condo Conversions (Part N):
- Removes eviction plans from future filings;Prohibits unreasonable increases for eligible seniors or disabled tenants who are unable to purchase their units.
- Conversion rate increased to purchase of 51% of all apartments solely by tenants in occupancy.
- Exclusive right to purchase for 90 days with a six-month extension.
The information contained in this document is provided to you as a courtesy for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Please contact our law office during business hours to schedule a telephone consultation and/or office consultation regarding the Statewide Tenant Protection Act and Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 as it may relate to your specific landlord tenant matter.