In mid-June of this year, New York State’s landlord-tenant laws were amended to include an array of protections in the residential leasing context.
"As the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, I know full well the importance of affordable housing,” Cuomo said before signing the legislation.
And in a few short months, not only have constitutional challenges been filed with the courts, but landlords and their agents – like licensed real-estate professionals – are already utilizing methods which fly in the face of those laws, and arguably constitute a form of impermissible “cheating.”
By way of example, the New York Times recently reported the story of a 33-year-old nanny/entrepreneur who believes she was bamboozled by a real-estate broker.
During her quest for a Manhattan apartment, Ms. Natalie Miscolta-Cameron was asked to pay a $400 “processing fee,” in addition to a $100 application fee. After doing some homework, and reading up on the new rent laws, she realized that apartment “application fees,” including background check costs, are now capped at $20.
While some landlords are claiming to be “confused” about how these new restrictions work, that “confusion,” whether feigned or otherwise, isn’t a justifiable legal basis upon which to employ run-arounds or to exploit perceived loopholes.
“Landlords say lawmakers rushed the new statutes through the Legislature, resulting in ambiguities,” noted The Times. “As a consequence, brokers citywide are continuing to charge renters hundreds of dollars in application fees, hurting the people the laws were meant to protect.”
“It has long been an accepted legal precept that if a landlord is barred from engaging in some act, that limitation will apply to any agent,” noted Jeffrey M. Norton, head of Newman Ferrara’s Class Actions Group. “This game-playing, in our view, not only runs afoul of the new rent laws, but arguably puts many of these brokers at risk of losing their licenses,” he continued.
“Any tenant that has been charged in excess of $20 in application fees, should immediately contact a lawyer to discuss all available legal rights and remedies,” Norton advised. “This chicanery needs to be nipped in the bud …. Now.”
# # #
If you are a victim of any violation of the rent laws by a landlord or an agent, feel free to contact Mr. Norton, at 212-619-5400.