Establishes it shall be unlawful for a person to have his or her application to rent or lease a residence to be denied due to a previous housing court proceeding; allows a person aggrieved to maintain a civil action.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the real property law, in relation to prohibiting certain prior housing court proceedings from being considered by landlords in the lease of property for residential purposes
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To protect tenants from discrimination based on prior landlord-tenant litigation, or tenant screening reports, when applying for new housing.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one of the bill states the underlying legislative findings: that some landlords discriminate against some prospective tenants based on prior landlord-tenant litigation or based on tenant screening reports that are used to blacklist some tenants.
Section 2 of the bill adds a new section 235-h to the Real Property Law ("RPL"). New RPL section 235-h(1) defines the following terms: housing accommodation, tenant screening report, person, and consumer reporting agency. New RPL section 235-h(2) makes it an unlawful practice to refuse to rent residential units based on information obtained from tenant screening reports or based on prior landlord-tenant litigation, or facts derived from such litigation, unless the tenant had a warrant of eviction issued against him or her and did not voluntarily enter into an agreement that would allow the warrant of eviction to be issued. New RPL section 235-h(3) allows aggrieved tenants to sue for injunctive relief, damages, costs and fees.
Section 3 establishes that this act shall take effect immediately.
JUSTIFICATION: Landlords typically review prospective tenants' background in order to evaluate their desirability as tenants. In addition to credit history and income, landlords also examine court history. In fact, an entire industry, comprised of so-called tenant screening bureaus or tenant screening companies, has been created in order to provide landlords with information on tenants, and these companies often provide a tenant's court history. Unfortunately, these companies are not necessarily thorough, and they do not always include the outcome of a tenant's court case. Tenants who have appeared in court cases relating to landlord-tenant disputes, and who might have won their cases or settled out of court, still find their applications for new housing rejected, simply based on their prior appearances in court.
This bill would make it unlawful for landlords to consider a tenant's history in court cases that arise from landlord-tenant disputes, unless that tenant was evicted against his or her will. This would ensure that appearance in court in and of itself would not prevent a tenant from obtaining new housing. Lawyers involved in housing court cases report that there are 375,000 housing court cases a year in New York State, and only 25,000 result in warrants of eviction. That means that there are
potentially 350,000 residents of New York State who are suffering because the law does not prevent landlords from discriminating against them. The bill would continue to permit the use of prior litigation history that resulted in a contested (i.e., non-consented to) eviction, following a court ruling in favor of a petitioner-landlord, thus allowing legitimate use of a relatively small number of cases, while preventing discrimination based on cases that did not have such a result.
Additionally, this bill would eliminate a threat that landlords can use against their tenants. Currently, tenants who may wish to sue their landlord - over a failure to deliver services, harassment, or any other number of reasons - may be unwise to do so, simply because their involvement in housing court can be used adversely against them in the future, Similarly, landlords who wish to exercise control over their tenants can threaten to sue to evict them, knowing full well that even if they lose the case, they have caused irreparable harm to the tenants' ability to find new housing. Tenants should not feel that they are unable to exercise their rights by appearing in court, and landlords should not be able to manipulate the judicial system to intimidate their tenants. This bill would prevent both of these phenomena, and would also allow tenants who have appeared in court, but have not been evicted against their will, from suffering unreasonable hardship.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009/2010: S.3856B/A.3243A 2011/2012: S.457/A4203
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3163 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 31, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sens. KRUEGER, SERRANO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary AN ACT to amend the real property law, in relation to prohibiting certain prior housing court proceedings from being considered by land- lords in the lease of property for residential purposes THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. The legislature hereby finds that some landlords refuse to offer available units because prospective tenants have previously been party to a judicial proceeding arising from a dispute between themselves and a prior landlord, and also finds that tenant screening reports are also being used by some landlords to inap- propriately blacklist some prospective tenants. The legislature believes that a tenant's prior appearance in a judicial proceeding is not worthy of consideration when a landlord is reviewing a prospective tenant's application, except under the limited circumstances permitted by this act. S 2. The real property law is amended by adding a new section 235-h to read as follows: S 235-H. UNLAWFUL REFUSAL TO RENT TO A PROSPECTIVE TENANT. 1. AS USED IN THIS SECTION, THE TERMS: (A) "HOUSING ACCOMMODATION" INCLUDES ANY BUILDING, STRUCTURE, OR PORTION THEREOF WHICH IS USED OR OCCUPIED OR IS INTENDED, ARRANGED OR DESIGNED TO BE USED OR OCCUPIED, AS THE HOME, RESIDENCE OR SLEEPING PLACE OF ONE OR MORE HUMAN BEINGS. (B) "TENANT SCREENING REPORT" MEANS ANY WRITTEN, ORAL, OR OTHER COMMU- NICATION OF ANY INFORMATION BY A CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCY BEARING ON A CONSUMER'S CREDIT WORTHINESS, CREDIT STANDING, CREDIT CAPACITY, CHARAC- TER, GENERAL REPUTATION, PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS, HISTORY OF CONTACT WITH ANY HOUSING, CIVIL OR CRIMINAL COURT OF ANY STATE, OR MODE OF LIVING, WHICH IS USED FOR OR EXPECTED TO BE USED OR COLLECTED IN WHOLEEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01586-01-3 S. 3163 2
OR PART FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVING AS A FACTOR IN EVALUATING A PROSPEC- TIVE TENANT. (C) "PERSON" MEANS ANY NATURAL PERSON, FIRM, PARTNERSHIP, JOINT VENTURE, CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION. (D) "CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCY" MEANS ANY PERSON WHO, FOR MONETARY FEES, DUES, OR ON A COOPERATIVE NONPROFIT BASIS, REGULARLY ENGAGES IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN THE PRACTICE OF ASSEMBLING OR EVALUATING CONSUMER CREDIT INFORMATION OR OTHER INFORMATION ON CONSUMERS FOR THE PURPOSE OF FURNISHING CONSUMER REPORTS, TENANT SCREENING REPORTS OR OTHER INVESTI- GATIVE CONSUMER REPORTS TO THIRD PARTIES. 2. IT SHALL BE AN UNLAWFUL PRACTICE FOR ANY PERSON, BEING THE OWNER, LANDLORD, LESSEE, PROPRIETOR, MANAGER, SUPERINTENDENT, AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF ANY HOUSING ACCOMMODATION TO DENY ANY PERSON'S APPLICATION TO RENT OR LEASE A UNIT INTENDED TO BE USED PRIMARILY FOR RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES BASED, WHOLLY OR IN PART, ON INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM A TENANT SCREEN- ING REPORT. IT SHALL ALSO BE UNLAWFUL TO DO SO BASED ON ANY INFORMATION INDICATING THAT SUCH PERSON WAS A LITIGANT IN AN ACTION OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT UNDER ARTICLE SEVEN OF THE REAL PROPERTY ACTIONS AND PROCEEDING LAW OR SECTION ONE HUNDRED TEN OF THE NEW YORK CITY CIVIL COURT ACT IN THE SUPREME COURT OR IN THE HOUSING PART OF THE NEW YORK CITY CIVIL COURT, OR BASED ON ANY OF THE FACTS OR ALLEGED FACTS DERIVED FROM SUCH A PROCEEDING, UNLESS: (A) SUCH PERSON PREVIOUSLY APPEARED AS RESPONDENT OR DEFENDANT IN AN ACTION TO RECOVER REAL PROPERTY OR A SUMMARY PROCEEDING TO RECOVER POSSESSION OF REAL PROPERTY; AND (B) A JUDGE RULED IN FAVOR OF THE PETITIONER OR PLAINTIFF; AND (C) A WARRANT OF EVICTION WAS ISSUED AGAINST SUCH PERSON IN THAT ACTION OR PROCEEDING; AND (D) SUCH PERSON, HAD NOT ENTERED INTO A VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT, SUCH AS A STIPULATION, CONSENT DECREE, OR ANY OTHER AGREEMENT CONSENTING TO A JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION. 3. ANY PERSON AGGRIEVED BY A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION MAY MAINTAIN AN ACTION IN ANY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION FOR: (A) AN INJUNCTION TO ENJOIN AND RESTRAIN SUCH UNLAWFUL PRACTICE; (B) ACTUAL DAMAGES SUSTAINED AS A RESULT OF SUCH UNLAWFUL PRACTICE; (C) COURT COSTS; (D) LEGAL FEES; (E) PUNITIVE DAMAGES AS DETERMINED BY THE TRIER OF FACT; AND (F) COMPENSATORY DAMAGES AS DETERMINED BY THE TRIER OF FACT. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to all landlord tenant relationships entered into or renewed on or after such date.