Recent changes to New York City’s rental laws were designed to strengthen protections for the 2.4M people who live in the City’s rent-controlled apartments. However, within this new bill are new protections that will apply to all renters statewide as well as to the 43% of NYC renters who live in unregulated buildings.

These new rental laws, strongly opposed by New York City developers and real estate professionals, represent a significant power shift away from landlords and towards renters. Some of these changes come on the heels of a rent cap earlier approved by the Oregon state legislation this year. According to the New York Times, some of these changes could fuel efforts in other states now that more households are currently renting more than at any other point in a 50 years.

Here are just some of rental law changes that could travel to other states considering shifts to tenant favorability:

Security Deposits

NYC’s new rental law now limits deposit amounts to one-month’s rent. Additionally, the new law makes it easier for tenants to recover security deposits.

According to an analysis by RentCafe in 2018, ten other states plus the District of Columbia (there could be more states now but we don’t have more current data) have a one-month cap on security deposits. According to Greg Brown senior vice president of government affairs with the National Apartment Association composed of 82,000 property managers, leasing agents, developers, etc. new security deposit limits could impede a property owner’s ability to pay for apartment damages and/or cover owed rent if a tenant breaks a lease.

Notice

There are now new notice requirements for landlords:

  • must provide notice when intending to raise rent more than 5%
  • must notify tenants when not intending to renew a lease
  • if tenant has rented for less than one year, 30-day notice now required
  • if tenant has rented for more than one year but less than two years, 60-day notice now required
  • if tenant has rented for more than two years, 90-day notice now required

Eviction Protection

A judge can now stay an eviction for up to one-year, rather than six-months, if a tenant cannot find a similar unit in the same neighborhood after the tenant has done a “reasonable” search. The landlord must now consider how an eviction could impact a tenant’s health, a child’s enrollment in a local school setting, etc.

“Any unlawful eviction would now become a misdemeanor punishable by a civil penalty of $1,000 – $10,000 violation.”

This rental law change is a complement to a 2017 law that made New York the first state to make good on a “universal right to counsel that guarantees free legal assistance for tenants facing eviction.”

Mobile Homes

Though only one mobile home park exists in New York City in Staten Island, Brian Kavanagh, a State Senator who chairs the State Senate’s Housing Committee, indicated there are some 200,000 mobile and manufactured home parks in New York State.

Rent increases by mobile home park owners are now capped at 3%/year or up to 6% if the state government finds such an increase “justifiable.” Eviction protections are also strengthened by the new rental law and are now applicable to seasonal residents. If a park owner decides to repurpose the land in the park, it’s now harder to evict those residents.

Senator Kavanaugh said, “These residents are particularly vulnerable because they often own the structure but not the land underneath it.”

Additional Changes that Could Travel to Other States

Instead of just 10 days, tenants now have 30 days to “fix” lease violations.

Application fees, including background checks, are now limited to $20.

Blacklisting practices based upon the tenant’s housing history are now banned.

If/when a tenant breaks a lease, landlords are now required to attempt to rent the unit to another tenant instead of keeping the unit vacant and charging the tenant for the remainder of the lease.

Know that in June 2019, five states (Oregon, California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York along with the District of Columbia) have some type of rent control. Oregon is currently the only state that has implemented statewide rent control although California, Colorado, Illinois and Washington are currently working on doing the same.