Bill S6113B-2013

Relates to prohibiting legal fees to be charged by a lessor or agent thereof

Prohibits lessors or agents thereof from assessing a lessee any fee for legal services in connection with any operation or rental of a residential unit unless the lessor has the legal authority to do so.

Details

Actions

  • Jun 19, 2014: PRINT NUMBER 6113B
  • Jun 19, 2014: AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO JUDICIARY
  • Apr 28, 2014: AMEND BY RESTORING TO ORIGINAL PRINT 6113
  • Mar 25, 2014: PRINT NUMBER 6113A
  • Mar 25, 2014: AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO JUDICIARY
  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S6113B

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the real property law, in relation to legal fees

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill would prohibit a landlord from including any legal fees not awarded pursuant to a court order on any correspondence to a tenant.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends the real property law by adding a new section 234-a that would prohibit a lessor or agent thereof from charging or including any fee, surcharge, or other assessment for legal services in connection with the operation or rental of a residential unit unless the lessor has the legal authority to do so pursuant to a court order Any agreement or assessment to the contrary shall be void as contrary to public policy.

Section 2 sets the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: Nearly half of all New Yorkers live below or close to the poverty line. Accordingly, it is critical that New York City has protections in place to safeguard its residents' basic necessities, one of the most important of which is housing With an average rent of over 51,000 in the City, programs that reduce the rent burden are essential. One important example is New York City's system of rent stabilization, which provides a variety of tenant protections to over 2 million people.

Despite the high need for these tenant protections, many landlords are increasing the cost of housing, by imposing non-rent fees on rent stabilized tenants. One major example, and the focus of this bill, is a fee or surcharge for legal services Landlords do not have legal authority to impose a legal fee unless: a) The tenant's lease has a clause that allows the landlord to seek such fees; b) The tenant is sued by the landlord in a court and; c) Either a judge has ordered a tenant to pay the legal fees or the tenant has agreed to pay the fee in a court approved agreement.

Most of the time, landlords add these surcharges without meeting any of the above conditions. A recent survey of rent stabilized tenants indicates that 56% were charged a legal fee in the last year and on average, the fee exceeded 1,000 dollars. Many tenants feel forced to pay these fees because they fear eviction This bill is necessary to protect low-income tenants in New York City and ensure that they are not being charged more than they legally owe for rent, This extra cost raises rents and makes rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments unaffordable for many New Yorkers.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a New Bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately

{1} The Burden of Fees: How Affordable Housing is Made Unaffordable, Community Action for Safe Apartments and the Community Development Project, September 2013 http://www cdp-ny org/report/The Burden of Fees FINAL pdf


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6113--B IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 8, 2014 ___________
Introduced by Sens. ESPAILLAT, DIAZ, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HOYLMAN, PARKER, PERKINS, SERRANO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the real property law, in relation to legal fees THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The real property law is amended by adding a new section 234-a to read as follows: S 234-A. UNAUTHORIZED LEGAL FEES. A LESSOR OR AGENT THEREOF SHALL BE PROHIBITED FROM ASSESSING A LESSEE ANY FEE, SURCHARGE OR OTHER CHARGES FOR LEGAL SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OR RENTAL OF A RESI- DENTIAL UNIT UNLESS THE LESSOR HAS THE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO DO SO PURSUANT TO A COURT ORDER. ANY AGREEMENT OR ASSESSMENT TO THE CONTRARY SHALL BE VOID AS CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

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