A ‘game changer’ for New York tenants’ rights

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–One of the most comprehensive overhauls of landlord tenant laws in New York history was passed by state lawmakers in June. Changes were enacted in phases, with the last provisions taking effect last week.

The measure is called the “Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019,” which affords renters new protections, and bolsters existing laws against abuse by landlords and apartment managers.

A portion of the law reinforced rent stabilization laws in New York City, and gives Upstate counties the opportunity to “opt in” to those provisions, under certain conditions.

Attorneys point out one of the more significant changes is allowing a tenant to get a 14-day court adjournment, or postponement, of their hearing, rather than getting slapped with a three-day notice to vacate if they lose in their initial court hearing.

Katelyn Neidermier, a staff attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services, said that new provision is especially important when a landlord is trying to force out a tenant whose is withholding their rent to protest sub-standard living conditions.

“This could be a matter of not bringing every receipt, or not having the ability to print out pictures before court to show negative housing conditions. So this is a real game changer.”

Neighborhood Legal Services is one of the agencies that represent low income tenants facing eviction in the local courts.

Neidermier also indicated another important change in the law is the protection afforded long-time residents of rental housing.

If a tenant has lived in the same place for at least a year the landlord now has to give at least a 60-day notice to vacate, twice the 30 days that was required before.

If the renter has lived in the apartment for two years, Neidermier said the notice would be 90 days, “We have had tenants who have lived in apartments or houses for 15 years be evicted with 30 days’ notice.  It is all memories, it is children’s documents, it is your important documents, and it is just all the physical things that make a home that can be absolutely lost.”

For more information on what the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 could mean to you, the Real Estate Board of New York has published a summary at the REBNY website.

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