New York City launches tenant protection ad campaign, website

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City on Monday launched a campaign to educate tenants on their new rights under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019.

The ads are designed by the Mayor's Office to Protect Tenants to give New York City renters the information they need to hold their landlords accountable following passage of the new laws.

The ads will run through mid December and will be displayed on subways, bus shelters, small businesses, Staten Island ferry terminals, community newspapers, Link kiosks, and online.

Tenants across New York City won new protections this summer due to new state legislation that makes it more difficult for landlords to evict all tenants. In addition, the new laws strengthened protections for New Yorkers living in rent regulated apartments.

The laws are enforced by the State's Division of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) and include protection from large security deposits and onerous application fees, as well as limits on how rent can increase and how much landlords can charge regulated tenants for building improvements.

New protections for all tenants include:

--Rent Increase Notice: Landlords are required to provide notice to tenants if they intend to raise rent more than 5 percent or if they do not intend to renew the lease.

--Unlawful Eviction: Unlawful eviction occurs when a landlord evicts or attempts to evict a tenant without a warrant of eviction or other court order. Unlawful evictions are now a misdemeanor punishable by civil penalty fines of $1,000-$10,000 per violation.

--Warrants and Stays of Evictions: After a judgement has been granted in Housing Court, a judge will issue an order indicating the day after which a city marshal may execute a warrant of eviction. The marshal must now serve a 14-day notice upon the tenant prior to execution of the warrant of eviction. The court may stay the issuance of a warrant for up to one year.

--Reversing Evictions: Many tenants are evicted for non-payment of rent. Changes to the law make it easier for families to reverse eviction decisions for non-payment of rent if they are able to come up with the money before the city marshal arrives.

--Apartment Application Fee: Application fees for an apartment are limited to fees for background checks and credit checks, and now cannot exceed $20. The $20 limitation applies to licensed real estate brokers and salespeople acting as an agent of the landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor.

--Late Fees: Late fees can only be charged if rent is received more than five days after the due date established in the lease, and cannot exceed $50 or 5 percent of the rent, whichever is less.

New protections for rent regulated tenants include:

--Elimination of Vacancy Decontrol: Owners can no longer remove a unit from rent stabilization after a vacancy if the rent has reached a certain dollar threshold. Previously, owners could deregulate stabilized units and charge incoming tenants market rate once the unit became vacant if the rent amount reached $2,774.76.

--Elimination of Vacancy Bonus: Prior to June 14, 2019, owners of rent stabilized apartments were awarded up to a 20% bonus to the "legal" rent in between tenancies. Today that bonus has been eliminated.

--Rent Increases are Based on the Current Rent You Pay: Today, rent increases with some very narrow exceptions - currently set by the Rent Guidelines Board at 1.5% for a one year lease and 2.5% for a two year lease - must be based on the preferential rent.

--Limits on How Much Owners can Charge Tenants for Building Improvements: The new laws significantly limit the rent increases that can be charged for Major Capital Improvements (MCI) and Individual Apartment Improvements (IAI). Examples of MCIs include new boilers, and new roofs. Examples of IAIs include bathroom or kitchen renovations.

For more information, visit NYC.gov/tenantprotection or call 311.

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