Landlords in New York Want to Repeal the State’s New Tenant Protection Act
In mid-2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Among other stipulations, the law limits security deposits to one month’s rent, limits situations in which landlords can evict tenants, restricts tenant background checks, and dictates that landlords give recently-evicted tenants more time to vacate the premises. Landlords in New York are pushing back against the law, which took effect immediately upon signing, arguing that it should be repealed.
The biggest issue with the law for landlords is the new eviction rule. Before 2019, landlords in New York only needed to give tenants 72 hours to vacate after serving an eviction. Now, landlords are required to give tenants at least two weeks’ notice to vacate—even if those tenants haven’t made rent payments.
Another issue for landlords is how the law affects tenant background checks. In most rental situations, landlords at minimum want to search for criminal history, look at credit reports, verify employment and income, and check for past evictions or rental troubles. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act changed what landlords can do with background checks. The law bars landlords from charging prospective tenants more than a $20 fee to cover the costs of background checks. Landlords can no longer reject tenants who have been involved in court cases with prior landlords over evictions, unpaid rent, or other issues.
Landlords argue that the new regulations make it more difficult for them to profit from their rental properties by reducing their ability to vet potential tenants and slowing down the eviction process.
Only time will tell if calls for a legislative repeal gain any ground. In the meantime, other parts of the country are also dealing with significant recent legislative changes concerning landlords and tenants.
In California, a new eviction law took effect on January 1, 2020. While nowhere near as sweeping as New York’s law, the California law limits situations in which landlords can evict tenants who have lived in their units for more than 12 months. In the past, landlords could evict tenants to take a unit off the rental market, sell it, remodel it, or use if for a different purpose. Now, if a tenant has been in that unit for more than a year, the law says that a landlord cannot evict him or her without “just cause” (such as unpaid rent).
In Adelanto, California, a “crime-free housing ordinance” was recently repealed entirely by a vote of the city council. The program provided “for eviction of any occupant that causes, maintains, or allows any criminal activity, illegal drug activity, or drug-related nuisance.” Critics of the ordinance claimed that it was discriminatory and resulted in a disproportionately high number of evictions of minority groups.
Despite all these shifts, tenant background checks remain a central strategy for landlords to use to protect themselves and their other tenants from risks. Read our white paper on the subject to learn about the resounding importance of these checks.