New Rent Laws – HSTPA – Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act

New Rent Laws – HSTPA – Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act

SECURITY DEPOSITS

As you may be aware by now, New York has recently changed their laws under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. This includes the use of security deposits, and these laws apply statewide.

According to the new law, Tenants in rent-stabilized and unregulated units may not be required to deposit more than 1 month’s rent as security deposit. Landlords can also no longer accept or require first and last month’s rent at the beginning of a tenancy, or anything more than 1 month’s rent and 1 month security deposit.

Further, a Landlord has ONLY 14 days to return security deposit after the tenant vacates the apartment and must provide an itemized statement if any portion of the deposit is retained for nonpayment of rent, nonpayment of utility charges, damage caused by tenant beyond wear and tear and moving, or storage of tenant’s belongings. If the Landlord fails to provide itemization to deposit within 14 days, the Landlord forfeits their right to retain any portion of the security deposit. Any willful violation can be subject to punitive damages up to twice the amount of the deposit.

Please note that the security deposit cannot be withheld based on anything other than wear and tear, or attorneys’ fees, late fees, additional rent, or other miscellaneous charges and the itemized statement must specify any repairs or cleaning.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will continue to send information regarding the new law to help everyone’s understanding on the new rent law.

5 DAY NOTICE TO TENANT

As you may be aware by now, New York has recently changed many laws affecting tenants, with the enactment of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 in June 2019. This includes the requirement that a 5-day notice to tenant of failure to pay rent be sent to tenant, and these laws apply statewide.

According to the new law, residential and possibly commercial tenants must be notified by certified mail within 5 days of the date specified in a lease agreement, that rent was not received on the due date. This is in addition to the formal 14 day rent demand (formerly 3 day).

Please note that tenants may raise as an affirmative defense to a nonpayment proceeding the failure to provide this 5-day notice and therefore this notice is crucial in a nonpayment proceeding. This 5-day notice must be sent by the Landlord or Landlord’s agent.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will continue to send information regarding the new law to help everyone’s understanding on the new rent law.

“GOOD CAUSE” EVICTIONS

After the big rent law overhaul of June 2019 (HSTPA), the Democratic Legislature has more plans in mind for rent laws in New York State. Among them are commercial rent control, universal rent control, abolishment of major capital improvement increases, and “good cause” evictions only. For now I will focus on “good cause” evictions.

Remember that the purpose of the HSTPA is to promote housing stability and tenant protections. The Legislature believes that tenants should not be forced to move due to the whims of landlords. Whether or not you agree with this, this is the current trend and the Democratic Legislature has the power and the votes to push ideas and laws like these into reality.

The law is not yet in effect so I cannot tell you what the law says or will say. I can also not tell you which apartments the law will effect. However, it is my understanding that the “good cause” eviction law will apply to all units that are currently deregulated. Landlords now are in the position where they can refuse to renew a tenancy for any reason whatsoever, merely by providing the tenants with appropriate notices of non-renewal. Presently, there need not be a reason for such non-renewal. The implementation of a “good cause” standard will require the landlord to have some reason for not renewing a tenant’s tenancy. It is impossible to say at this time what will be considered a good cause.

Evictions will likely be scrutinized carefully by the courts, and landlords seeking to evict tenants should be certain to have a reasonable basis for such eviction, such as a history of late payment of rent, the financial need to use the apartment for the landlord’s family members, the need to sell the apartment, or the good faith desire to sell the apartment.

It is my opinion that the enactment of a good cause statute will have a severe negative impact on the investment and multi-family property market in New York State, and investors will look elsewhere for investment residential rental property. This is because investors will not want to be restricted and inhibited from having the power to rent to whom they want and will not want courts and judges investigating and determining whether or not the landlords have sufficient “good cause” to refuse to renew a tenants lease and to seek their eviction.

Although I would in no way suggest that any landlord bring a frivolous and unnecessary proceeding to evict any tenant, I would suggest that if you have been considering commencing such an action, because you do not wish a tenant to remain in your property, any landlord should do so now before the enactment of the “good cause” statute.

Feel free to contact me to discuss this potential development in landlord-tenant law and to see if you should be taking any action to protect yourself, either as a landlord or tenant.