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A Look Back at Some Key Points of the 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act

Many landlords we have discovered have little or no knowledge of major changes to the law regarding residential properties that has now passed their three-year anniversary mark. The New York State Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA), enacted June 14, 2019, overhauled many of the laws governing landlord and tenant relations. Here are some key points which are particularly topical in light of today's unprecedented and pandemic-driven housing market:

Obligation to Re-Rent A Vacated Unit
Under the new law, a landlord must take "reasonable and customary" steps to re-rent  an apartment unit at the lower end of either the prior agreed-upon rent or fair market rate when a tenant vacates in the middle of a lease term in order to mitigate in good faith any financial obligation for such former tenant. Any lease provision to the contrary will be deemed void as against public policy.

Return of Security Deposits
A landlord is now under an obligation to return a tenant's security deposit within fourteen days of the tenant vacating, subject to the owner providing the former lessee with a detailed list of what costs were deducted due to any alleged tenant-caused damages to the premises. Failure to return the security deposit and/or the itemized list of damages and repair costs within the aforesaid time period can result in the landlord losing the right to deduct any such set-offs. What's more, if it is determined by a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction that the landlord acted in bad faith in refusing to return the security or a portion thereof, the owner may be penalized by having to pay back double the security deposit amount so withheld.

Covid-19 Use of Security Deposit
Although not part of the HSTPA, under the repeatedly extended Executive Orders of the Governor relating to the current pandemic, a residential tenant may request that a security deposit be applied towards rent payments and a landlord is obligated to consent if the tenant is eligible for State or Federal unemployment insurance benefits or is otherwise facing financial hardship due to Covid-19. The parties’ agreement should be written and provide that the tenant will repay the deposit in 12 equal monthly installments, starting no later than 3 months after the month the deposit was first applied. This option is only available at the tenant's request and a landlord cannot force a tenant to make such a request.

We will visit from time to time, in this space, some of the other key points of the comprehensive set of rules for landlords to follow comprising the HSTPA.
Please call us if you have any questions or to further discuss these and your other legal options in the rapidly-evolving field of landlord and tenant law.

Over the past four decades of representing property owners and renters, our office has constantly striven to offer personalized and friendly service to our clients and their acquaintances. We truly appreciate our clients' steadfast loyalty to our staff, to our attorneys and to ourselves and promise that we will always be just a phone call or email away to answer any of your legal questions.


by Michael Goldberg and Jonathan Steckler of
Goldberg Lustig & Steckler PLLC


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