Brooklyn Boro

New tenant laws get marketing boost from mayor

October 23, 2019 Alex Williamson
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A package of historic rental laws passed by state lawmakers in June is getting a marketing boost from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced a new ad campaign and website on Monday to educate renters about their new rights.

The State Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 makes it harder for landlords to evict tenants, limits the size of security deposits, application fees and late rent fees, caps how much landlords can charge for building improvements and does away with “vacancy decontrol” and the “vacancy bonus” in rent-stabilized apartments.

The ads will be displayed on subways, bus stops, Link kiosks, ferry terminals, newspapers and online through Dec. 15. The Mayor’s Office said that city workers will also go door to door to talk with renters about their rights.

“The State Legislature passed some of the most progressive rent reforms we’ve seen in decades, but if New Yorkers don’t know their rights, it will all be for nothing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.

The website includes a searchable database that lets renters see if their building is regulated, subsidized or rent stabilized. There’s also a portal that guides tenants through looking up their building’s rent history to see if they’re being overcharged.

The new rental laws passed by state lawmakers in June cap application fees for all renters at $20. Image courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

More than 65 percent of the city’s population rents. That figure has grown by roughly 5 percent since 2008, with a corresponding decline in homeownership, according to 2016 Census data.

Until the package of laws passed this summer, landlords were permitted a vacancy bonus for rent-regulated units, allowing them to raise the rent by up to 20 percent in between tenants. Owners could remove unoccupied units from rent-stabilized status and charge market rate once the rent reached $2,774.76, which could be achieved through vacancy bonuses or hiking the rent by up to 20 percent for repairs and upgrades, or “major capital improvements.”

“Rent stabilization is one of the strongest tenant protection tools we have, and the reforms out of Albany make those tools even stronger,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Louise Carroll in a statement.

Other new protections for all tenants include a rent increase notice, requiring landlords to inform tenants if they intend to raise the rent by more than 5 percent, a law that makes unlawful eviction a misdemeanor, rules making it easier to reverse evictions for non-payment and a rule that requires city marshals to give tenants at least 14 days’ notice before carrying out an eviction warrant.

The campaign was released by the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, an oversight office formed in January to preserve the city’s affordable housing and penalize law-breaking landlords.

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