Summary of Changes to Rental Regulations Imposed by the Statewide Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act of 2019

by Michael Bruno, Attorney at Law
Devine, Snyder, and Bruno
Albany, NY

The following is a summary of the changes that were enacted on June 14, 2019 under the Statewide Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. The Act took effect immediately and applies to all special proceedings (ie: Summary Proceedings) commenced on or after June 14, 2019.  The effective date of any provision other than on or after June 14, 2019 is so noted. The Act amends/modifies and/or adds to the following statutes:

RPL§ 223-b(1)(a)

  • This section deals with retaliation by landlord against a tenant. Previously there was a rebuttable presumption of retaliation where a landlord terminated a tenancy or served a notice to quit within 6months after a tenant had made a good faith complaint to a governmental authority of the landlord’s violation of any health or safety law, regulation, code or ordinance (RPL §223-b(5)(a).
  • The new law extends this presumption based on a tenants good faith complaint to the Landlord, his agents and now includes the warranty of habitability.

RPL§223-b(2) - The landlord of premises or units to which this section is applicable shall not substantially alter the terms of the tenancy in retaliation of any actions set forth in RPL§223-b(1). Substantial alteration includes, but is not limited to, refusal to continue the tenancy, refusal to renew the lease, offering a lease renewal with an unreasonable rent increase. 

RPL §223-b(3)- The landlord is now subject to attorneys' fees and costs as well as civil damages for violation of the above noted sections.

RPL §223(5)- The rebuttable presumption regarding retaliation has been extended to 1 year following a tenant complaint.

RPL §226-c Effective October 12, 2019 - Landlords are required to give written notice of an intention to renew a residential lease with a rent increase equal to or greater than 5% above the current rent, or the intention not to renew the tenancy by the following schedule:

  • If tenant has occupied for less than 1 year and does not have a lease term of at least 1 year, landlord shall provide at least 30 days' notice 
  • If tenant has occupied for more than 1 year, but less than 2 years, landlord shall provide at least 60 days' notice.
  • If tenant has occupied for more than 2 years or has a lease term of at least 2 years, landlord shall provide at least 90 days' notice

RPL§227-e - Landlords have an affirmative duty to mitigate damages regardless of the terms of the lease agreement.

RPL §227-f Effective July 14, 2019 

  • RPL §227-f prohibits denial to rent based on the tenant's prior involvement in landlord-tenant actions, with a possible civil penalty of $500-$1,000 for each violation enforced by Attorney General.
  • A rebuttable presumption that a person is in violation of this section where it is established that the person requested information from a tenant screening bureau relating to a potential tenant or inspected court records relating to a potential tenant and then the person refuses to rent to the potential tenant.

RPL §232-b Effective October 22, 2019 - RPL §232-b amends monthly or month-to-month tenancies outside the city of New York to permit such tenancies to be terminated by the tenant at least 1 month before the expiration of the term of the tenant's election to terminate; the landlord's ability to terminate a monthly or month-to-month tenancy is governed by RPL §226-c which was not amended.

RPL§233 Effective July 14, 2019Manufactured Home Parks Only 

  • (a)(2)- (6) & (7) Provision added defining “rent to own contract” & “rent to own payment”- (b)(6)(i) – this section relates to the change in use of the land comprising a mobile home park. The statute extends the time to commence an eviction proceeding based on a change in use from 6 months to 2 years.
  • (b)(6)(iii) – Section added relating to evictions based on change in use of manufactured home park. The section provides for a court ordered stipend of up to $15000.
  • (e)(1) – All lease offers including initial and renewal leases shall include a rider regarding tenant rights. The Rider shall be in a form approved or promulgated by the commissioner of housing and community renewal. Landlord required to offer renewal annually to all tenants regardless of the tenant being in good standing.
  • (e)(4) – If manufactured home park owner fails to offer tenant a lease renewal, the tenant is protected as if there were a valid lease and the tenant may not be evicted other than for cause.
  • (e)(5) All rent increases shall be subject to RPL§233-b
  • (g)(2) Requires manufactured home park owner to disclose all fees,rules & regulations prior to entry into a lease agreement.
  • (g)(3) Provides that rent, utilities and charges for facilities and services may not be increased unless a lease has been offered to the tenant as required by RPL§233(e)
  • (r) Late charges on any rental payment shall not exceed 3% (change from 5% previously). Late charges may not be compounded and shall not be considered additional rent.

RPL§233-a(2) Manufactured Home Parks Only

  • Requires a manufactured home park owner to require a written certification from a potential purchaser, prior to the acceptance of such offer or the making of a counter offer, that the purchaser whether or not the purchaser intends to change the use of the land upon which the manufactured home park is located.
  • (a)(3) expands tenant rights with respect to an offer to purchase, including the right to organize a homeowners’ association in response.

RPL§233-b Manufactured Home Parks Only - This new section codifies and limits rent increases. RPL §233-b(2) Rent increases may not exceed 3% above the rent since the current rent became effective, unless such increase is due to:

  • Increases in the park owner’s operating expenses
  • Increases in the park owner’s property taxes
  • Increases in costs which are directly related to capital improvements in the park

RPL§234 - RPL §234 is amended to prohibit the recovery of attorney's fees upon a default judgment.

RPL§235-e 

  • RPL §235-e was amended to require the landlord or his agent to provide written rent receipts for payments made by cash or any instrument other than personal check.
  • Lessor is required to maintain records of cash receipts for at least 3 years.
  • Rent receipts must be issued immediately if rent is personally transmitted and within 15 days, if payment of rent is transmitted indirectly.
  • RPL§235-e(b) requires landlords and their agents to provide a receipt when requested by tenant for rent paid by personal check. Said request remains in effect for the duration of the tenancy and requires the receipt to include: the date, amount, identity of the premises, and signature of the person receiving rent.
RPL 235-e(d)
  • This new section requires the Landlord, if rent has not been received within 5 days of the date specified in the lease agreement, to send by certified mail written notice stating failure to receive the rent payment.
  • Proof of certified mailing must be attached to the Notice of Petition and Petition if a summary proceeding is initiated. Failure to send notice by certified mail may be used as an affirmative defense in a summary proceeding.

RPL§238-a - RPL §238-a is amended to prohibit application fees and to limit the fees for credit or background checks to the actual cost of the credit or background check or $20, whichever is less. In order to collect such fee, the lessor must provide a copy of the credit or background check and the receipt from the entity conducting the credit or background check to the potential tenant. The fee for a credit or background check shall be waived, if the potential tenant provides a copy of a credit or background check conducted within the past 30 days

RPL§238-a(2) - No landlord may demand any late fee unless the payment of rent has not been made within 5 days of the date it was due, and the late fee shall not exceed $50 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is less.

RPL§238-a(3) - The protections against additional fees may not be waived by the terms of the lease. These provisions do not apply to most retirement or continuing care communities.

RPAPL § 702 - This section was added to New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) defining "rent" in a residential dwelling to mean the monthly or weekly amount charged in consideration for the use and occupation of a dwelling pursuant to an oral or written agreement. The definition of ‘rent’ excludes added fees.  This is of particular importance when filing a proceeding as no fees, charges or penalties other than rent may be sought regardless of the lease language. 

RPAPL §711- RPAPL §711 was amended to add that no tenant or lawful occupant of a dwelling shall be removed except in a special proceeding. Further,written demand for rent (previously a landlord could make an oral demand) must be made with at least 14 days' notice (previously 3 days' notice) for requiring either payment of rent, or possession of the premises, served as prescribed in §735 of RPAPL. §735 requires service by any of the following methods: 

  • personal delivery
  • delivery to a person of suitable age following by mailing
  • affixing to the door of the residence followed by mailing  

Further, in the instance where a tenant dies during the term of the lease and rent is not being paid, an action may be commenced against the estate seeking a possessory judgment. Entry of such judgment shall be without prejudice to the possessory claims of the occupants and any warrant shall not be effective against the occupants.

RPAPL §731(4) - RPAPL §731 was amended to add subsection 4 which states that in any action for non-payment of rent, payment to the landlord of the full amount of the rent due prior to the hearing on the petition, shall be accepted by the landlord and renders moot the grounds on which the special proceeding was commenced.  The landlord can no longer refuse to accept rent prior to the proceeding. 

RPAPL §732(1) - §732(a) was amended to require that the notice of petition in non-payment proceeding shall be returnable within 10 days (a change from 5 days )after its service.

RPAPL §733 - The time for service was amended for the Notice of Petition and Petition to no less than 10 days, and no more than 17 days, before the time at which the petition is noticed to be heard (previously 5 and 12 days).

RPAPL §745- Requires an adjournment of the trial for not less than 14 days at the request of either party. A second or subsequent request for adjournment shall be granted in the court's sole discretion.

RPAPL §749- This statue deals with Warrants of eviction.

  • §749 was amended to require the warrant of eviction describe the property, state the earliest date upon which execution may occur pursuant to the order of the court.
  • Allows the court to issue a stay of re-letting or renovation of the premises for a reasonable period of time.
  • The officer to whom the warrant is directed shall give at least 14 days' notice (previously 72 hours' notice)
  • Warrants shall be served on a business day (Monday - Friday).
  • In a judgment for non-payment of rent, the court shall vacate a warrant upon tender or deposit with the court of the full rent due at any time prior to its execution, unless the petitioner establishes that the tenant withheld the rent due in bad faith.

RPAPL §753 

  • §753 is amended to permit, upon application of the occupant, a stay of the issuance of a warrant of eviction or any execution to collect the costs of the proceeding for a period of not more than 1 year (previously 6 months), if the premises were used as a dwelling; that application is made in good faith; that the applicant cannot secure similar premises within the neighborhood and that the applicant made due and reasonable efforts to secure such other premises or by reason of other facts it would occasion extreme hardship to the applicant or the applicant's family if the stay were not granted. The Court shall consider serious ill health, significant exacerbation of an ongoing condition, a child's enrollment in a local school, and any other extenuating life circumstances affecting the ability of the applicant or the applicant's family to relocate and maintain quality of life.
  • Previously this section was only applicable to dwellings in NYC – now applicable to the entire State.
  • §753(2) The Court shall consider any substantial hardship the stay may impose on the landlord in determining whether to grant the stay or insetting the length and other terms of the stay.
  • §753(2) Stay shall be granted upon the condition that the person against whom the judgment is entered shall make a deposit in court of the entire amount or installments for occupation of the premises at the rate for which the applicant was liable for rent for the month immediately prior to the expiration of the applicants term or tenancy plus such additional amount as the court shall deem the difference is between the rent and the reasonable value of the property.
  • The provisions of the stay are not applicable to a proceeding when competent evidence establishes that the tenant is objectionable.

RPAPL §753(4) - In the event that the proceeding is based upon a claim that tenant or lessee has breached a provision of the lease, the Court shall grant a 30 day (a change from 10 days) stay of issuance of the warrant, during which time the respondent may correct such breach.

RPAPL §757 - §757 is a new section that provides that court records relating to evictions from foreclosed properties shall be sealed and deemed confidential. No disclosure or use of such information relating to any such lessee shall be authorized, and the use of such information shall be prohibited.

RPAPL §768- §768 was amended to create the class A misdemeanor of Unlawful Eviction, which also carries civil penalties of not less than $1,000, normore than $10,000 per violation.

GOL §7-108 Effective July 14, 2019 

  • §7-108 of the General Obligations Law was amended for dwelling units subject to rent control, retirement communities, etc., that no security deposit shall exceed the amount of one month's rent.
  • The return of security deposits, granting the right to inspections of the rented property before and prior to the end of the rental period, requiring the landlord provide an itemized statement for the basis of the deposit retained and assigning the burden of proof to the landlord for retaining any portion of the deposit are all set forth in this section.
  • Specific additions include
    • Right to inspect premises prior to lease execution
    • Written agreement upon tenant request attesting to condition
    • Landlord must notify tenant in writing 2 weeks prior to vacating of right to inspect before vacating
    • Inspection shall take place no earlier than 2 weeks and no later than one week before the end of the tenancy 
    • Landlord to give 48 hour notice of inspection
    • Must provide itemized statement of damages
    • Tenant shall have the opportunity to cure any condition before the end of the tenancy
  • Deposit Return
    • Within 14 days after tenant has vacated the premises
    • If landlord fails to submit an itemized statement and deposit within 14 days, the landlord forfeits any right to keep any portionof the deposit
    • If landlord is found to willfully violate this section, then punitive damages of up to twice the amount of the deposit or advance can be awarded.

Should you have any questions or wish to review your lease agreements, current practices and procedures under the new laws and/or review notice provisions, please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.