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If you are a landlord in New York State, you need to become aware of recent changes to the state’s landlord-tenant laws that went into effect on June 14, 2019.

Background and Credit Checks

The new laws place limits on what you may do when screening tenants. Some of the changes affect the fees that you are legally allowed to charge prospective tenants:
• You may charge prospective tenants for background and credit checks but not more than their actual cost or $20, whichever is less. You may not charge prospective tenants any other application fees.
• If you charge prospective tenants background or credit check fees, you must give them a copy of the background or credit check reports.
• If a prospective tenant gives you a background or credit check report conducted within the last thirty days, you cannot charge a background or credit check fee.

Other changes limit your ability to reject potential tenants:
• You cannot deny a potential tenant because the tenant was previously involved in landlord-tenant actions. There’s a fine of $500 to $1,000 for landlords who violate this provision.

Security Deposits and Rent Payments

Other changes in the law limit how much you can charge for security deposits and make it harder for you to deduct for damages. There are new limits on when you can charge fees for late payment of rent and on what you can recover in a summary proceeding.
• Security deposits cannot be larger than a single month’s rent.
• Tenants have the right to ask for an inspection after they sign the lease but before they move in and to have all damages and flaws listed in writing.
• You must return a tenant’s security deposit within 14 days after the tenant moves out. You must provide a list explaining any deductions you have taken from the deposit. If you and the tenant have a dispute about the amount you returned, you are required to prove that the deductions were reasonable.
• There is a penalty of up to twice the amount of the security deposit for landlords who “willfully” withhold the deposit from the tenant.
• You cannot charge a late fee for rent that is paid within five days of the due date, and late fees can only be 5% of the monthly rent or $50, whichever is less.
• In a landlord-tenant proceeding to recover unpaid rent, you may recover only the money paid for the unit’s occupancy and not late fees, utility fees, fees for bounced checks, or other similar fees.

These new laws affect landlords throughout New York State, not only in New York City.

It is crucial that you become familiar with these new laws, which you can read directly on the New York State Assembly’s website. You need to be aware of what actions can now result in fines or even criminal charges.

These changes make screening tenants more difficult and riskier than ever. At ZipReports, we are here to help. Please feel free to contact us today.

This is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain legal advice.

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