Did New York just declare war on landlords? And if they did, is it just for show or are the city and state prepared to back up their bark with some serious bite? Consider the recent remarkably pro-renter words on its new Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants site:
“We’re a city of renters and we want to make sure all renters have the resources they need to understand their rights and responsibilities. …
“New York State’s rent laws have changed to help you.”
“Tenants in New York have a strong set of rights that protect them in interactions with landlords or managing agents.” NYC’s Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants“NYC’s Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants
LANDLORD SHOCK & DENIAL
Judging by conversations that MeriLeads Compliance Services has had with our landlord friends about the Housing Stability And Tenant Protections Act of 2019, there seems to be some confusion about the new laws and whether they’ll actually be enforced.
Landlord: Ignoring or just failing to comply with the new laws isn’t really illegal.
Reality: This is like saying that running a red light isn’t illegal. Both are illegal.
RISKS OF IGNORING THE LAW
Moreover, violation can expose landlords to hefty fines and liability to pay tenants’ attorney’s fees. It also may attract unwanted governmental attention such as an investigation of one’s real estate practices triggered when a disgruntled tenant reports you to the Attorney General for failure to comply with the newly mandated security deposit practices .
Landlord: We just have to wait until DeBlasio’s term is up, then things will go back to the good old days.
Reality: Wrong. The new rent laws were enacted at the state level, by governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the democratic state legislature. While NYC has adopted the laws, they were enacted by Albany and would have to be overturned at the state level.
Landlord: The laws will change when the administration turns over. We can just wait it out.
Reality: Wrong. Given the current political climate, it seems highly unlikely that the City or State will be moving to the right and turning more pro-landlord any time soon. Face it, the new tenant laws are here to stay.
COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS
For many NYC landlords, , the calculation of whether to abide by the new laws, or to what degree, may come down to the likelihood of getting caught versus the consequences of getting caught. This is understandable, especially since in the past many renter laws were viewed as optional, largely because the enforcement agencies didn’t always enforce them.
Now, in this new environment, will the city and state put more cops (real or virtual) on the landlord beat? After all, they’ve installed plenty of those little cameras in stop lights that snap your picture and send you a ticket in the mail. For now, all signs point to yes.
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO CALL NY’S BLUFF?
Similarly, will NY and NYC use tech to enforce the new rent laws? Landlords – to quote Dirty Harry, Do you feel lucky?