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On June 14, 2019, the New York Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) became law.  This law signifies a seismic shift in the balance of power between landlords and tenants, whereby the legislature has amended many parts of the state’s Real Property Law (RPL), Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) and General Obligations Law (GOL), mostly to landlord’s burden and the tenant’s benefit.  The law has had an immediate impact on landlords and tenants across the State and it is important to understand these changes if you are a landlord or a tenant dealing with an eviction.  Some of the significant changes are highlighted below:

Notice Requirements:

Under the old law, month-to-month tenancies could be terminated with service of a 30-day notice.  No notice was required at the expiration of an ordinary lease or if renewal was conditioned on an increase in rent.  Under the 2019 Law, landlords are required to notify tenants if the lease will not be renewed or if rent will be increased by 5% or more. The amount of notice required depends on the length of occupancy or the lease term: if occupancy or lease are for less than one year, 30 days’ notice is required; if occupancy is between one and two years or lease term is at least one year but less than two years, 60 days’ notice is required; and if occupancy is for greater than two years or lease term is at least two years, 90 days’ notice is required.

Also under the old law, the landlord was only required to provide a 3-day rent demand prior to bringing a non-payment proceeding.  Now, residential tenants must be notified by certified mail within 5 days that rent was not received on the due date and if such notice is not provided, the tenant may raise that as an affirmative defense in a summary proceeding.

Record Keeping Requirements:

Landlords are now required to maintain records of cash receipts for at least three years and said rent receipts must be provided upon a tenant’s request or if rent is paid in any form other than a personal check.

Duty to Mitigate Damages:

Previously, landlords were not obligated to mitigate damages, whereby if a residential apartment remained vacant, the tenant would have been liable for rent through the end of the term.  Landlords must now, in good-faith according to the landlord’s resources and abilities, take “reasonable and customary” steps to rent the apartment.

Nonpayment proceedings:

The old law provided that landlords only needed to make a demand for rent 3 days before initiating a non-payment proceeding and tenant had 5 days to answer.  Now, landlords are required to provide a written 14-day demand and tenants now have 10 days to answer before being defaulted in a non-payment proceeding.

Previously, there was no codified law that covered a tenant’s right to pay before a hearing for non-payment.  Now, if the tenant pays the full amount of rent due prior to the hearing on the petition, the landlord must accept payment and the proceeding must be dismissed.

Holdover Proceedings:

A holdover is where a tenant stays in the premises after the lease term expires. The new law provides that service of a holdover petition must be made at least 10 and not more than 17 days before the first court appearance, as opposed to the old law, where service was required at least 5 and not more than 12 days before the first appearance.  The RPAPL was also amended to eliminate the requirement that an answer be made at least 3 days before the petition was set to be heard. Under the current law, a respondent must now answer the petition by the first court date and may do so orally or in writing.

Fees No Longer Collectible:

Prior to the enactment of the HSTPA, landlords could seek additional charges for late and legal fees so long as that was agreed upon in the lease.  Now, landlords are prevented from recovering those fees because residential rents have been narrowly defined to only include the amount charged in consideration for the ‘use and occupancy’ of the space.  According to the new statute, “[n]o fees, charges or penalties other than rent may be sought in a summary proceeding.”  Furthermore, a landlord is now prevented from recovering attorney’s fees upon a default judgment in any summary proceeding arising out of a lease of residential property.

Issuance of a Stay:

The Justice Courts now have discretion to stay the issuance of a warrant to evict a tenant for up to one year in any summary proceedings to recover possession of the premises upon a showing of substantial hardship by the tenant in finding new accommodations.

Warrant of Eviction:

Under the old law, the Courts would not specify a timing of the execution of the warrant of eviction, however, under the new law, a warrant of eviction must state the earliest date an eviction can occur.  The marshal is required to give at least 14 days’ notice prior to the eviction and execution of the warrant may only take place on a business day from Monday to Friday.  The warrant may only remove “persons named in the proceeding” and if the tenant in a non-payment proceeding deposits all the rent due at any time before the warrant is executed, the warrant is vacated unless the landlord can show the tenant withheld rent in bad faith.

Security Deposits:

Previously, security deposits had to be returned within a “reasonable time.”  Now, upon tenant’s notice of intent to vacate, landlord must conduct walk-thru no more than two weeks and no less than one week before the surrender.  Landlord has 14 days from the date tenant vacates the premises to return the security deposit and the landlord is required to provide an itemized statement if any portion is retained.  If landlord fails to provide the itemization or deposit within those 14 days, landlord loses or forfeits the right to withhold any portion of said security deposit.  The security deposit cannot be withheld for claims of ‘wear and tear’, additional rent or other miscellaneous charges.

Manufactured Homes:

Rent increases may not exceed 3% above the current rent unless the manufactured park owner experiences increases in operating expenses, property taxes or costs from capital improvements, and even if that were the case, rent may not be increased by more than 6% unless it is so-ordered by the Court.

If you are a landlord or a tenant who is dealing with a possible eviction, navigating the process can be convoluted and confusing, particularly with the enactment of the HSTPA.  At the law office of Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, we have a highly experienced team of attorneys, paralegals, and support staff handling all landlord-tenant disputes. Contact our firm today for a consultation.

This is not intended to be legal advice.  You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.

Samuel C. Bergsohn

Samuel Bergsohn is an associate with the firm and practices Landlord/Tenant and Land Use Law.

He can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.

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