Some Questions and Answers on the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019

Nov 25, 2019

Q. I understand there is a new law that restricts previously held rights of landlords and expands the rights of tenants. Does it affect real estate agents as well?

A. The Department of State has issued guidance for real estate professionals regarding their responsibilities when involved in renting property to a tenant on behalf of a landlord. You may go to the DOS website at licensing@dos.ny.gov or call the Department of State at 518-474-4429  to get information regarding this Act, which came into effect in July of this year. Broadly speaking, any licensee acting for a landlord is prohibited from engaging in activities on behalf of that landlord that violate the new law. Your failure to heed this warning could result in action by the DOS citing untrustworthy behavior resulting in fines and/or loss of your license.

Q. Can a landlord require more than one month's security from the tenant?

A. No! The maximum security a landlord may charge a tenant is one month, and that is the maximum even if the tenant has a dog, cat or other animal.

Q. Can the landlord or my company run a credit and/or background check on the tenant?

A. Checks may be run, but no such checks on the tenant may exceed a fee of $20.00 to the tenant.

Q. Can a landlord charge the tenant an application fee?

A. No!

Q. I represent a landlord who charges a 10% late fee if the tenant pays the rent later than the 3rd of the month. Is that allowed?

A. No! The maximum late fee is the lesser of $50.00 or 5% of the monthly fee.

Q. Can a landlord just decide not to renew the tenant's lease or to increase the rent when the lease is up?

A. The landlord must give 30 to 90 days written notice to the tenant, depending on how long the tenant has been renting the premises, if the landlord wishes not to renew the tenancy or if the landlord intends to increase the rent by 5% or more. 

Q. Does this new law effect seasonal rentals?

A. At this point it is unclear, but Assemblyman Fred Thiele of the 1st Assembly District in Sag Harbor is introducing legislation in the beginning of the 2020 session to expressly exclude rentals of 4 months or less.

Next time we will look at the new tenant eviction proceedings and the damages for which landlords and licensees may be liable as well as the limits on damages recoverable from the tenant!