New York Attorney General Letitia Jame continues her efforts to protect New York tenants by cracking down on “tenant blacklisting,” or when landlords use housing court records as a basis to deny a potential tenant’s rental application.
Tenant blacklisting was made illegal in 2019 following changes to the Real Property Law, which outlawed efforts to deny housing to renters with a history of landlord-tenant court cases. As a part of her efforts to eliminate tenant blacklisting in New York, Attorney General James took action against, and secured a settlement with, Clipper Equity, LLC (Clipper Equity), a New York City real estate company that denied applicants with past housing court records and violated city and state Human Rights Laws by requiring applicants to disclose their marital status. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has also launched an online complaint form for New Yorkers to report instances in which landlords have engaged in tenant blacklisting.
“Fair access to housing is a human right. No one should ever be denied that right due to previous, private circumstances often beyond their control, such as an inability to pay rent during a public health and economic crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said James. “Let this be a reminder to all New York landlords — blacklisting prospective tenants because of their housing court history is an unfair and illegal practice, and it will not go unchecked. I have always stood up for tenants, and my office will continue to fight tenant discrimination and ensure lawless landlords are held accountable.”
In 2019, the enactment of the New York Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) made it illegal for a property owner or landlord to deny a rental application based on the applicant’s housing court records. If there is documented evidence that a property owner or landlord obtained an applicant’s housing court records and subsequently denied the application, the law presumes the landlord or property owner made the decision to deny based on the applicant’s court records. The burden is on the landlord or property owner to prove the applicant was denied for other reasons.
To remain in compliance with the law, OAG recommends landlords and property owners refrain from requesting a potential tenant’s court records and rental histories altogether and cease relationships with tenant screening bureaus who continue to provide court records. Any New Yorker who believes that they have been denied an apartment because of their rental history should submit a tenant blacklisting complaint online with OAG.