Bill Text: NY A05251 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced


Bill Title: Permits the division of housing and community renewal to investigate rent overcharge complaints in rent regulated housing accommodations by reviewing all rent history beyond four years' prior records as needed.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 18-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-02-08 - referred to housing [A05251 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-A05251-Introduced.html


                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
                                          5251
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    February 8, 2019
                                       ___________
        Introduced by M. of A. DINOWITZ -- read once and referred to the Commit-
          tee on Housing
        AN  ACT to amend the administrative code of the city of New York and the
          emergency tenant protection act of nineteen seventy-four, in  relation
          to investigation of rent overcharge complaints
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. Paragraph 1 of subdivision a of section 12 of section 4  of
     2  chapter  576  of  the  laws  of  1974, constituting the emergency tenant
     3  protection act of nineteen seventy-four, as amended by  chapter  403  of
     4  the  laws  of 1983, the opening paragraph and clause (i) of subparagraph
     5  (b) as amended by chapter 116 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as
     6  follows:
     7    (1) Subject to the conditions and limitations of this  paragraph,  any
     8  owner  of  housing  accommodations in a city having a population of less
     9  than one million or a town or village as to which an emergency has  been
    10  declared  pursuant  to section three, who, upon complaint of a tenant or
    11  of the state division of housing and community renewal, is found by  the
    12  state  division  of  housing  and  community renewal, after a reasonable
    13  opportunity to be heard, to have collected an overcharge above the  rent
    14  authorized  for  a  housing  accommodation  subject to this act shall be
    15  liable to the tenant for a penalty equal to three times  the  amount  of
    16  such  overcharge.  In  no  event  shall  such  treble  damage penalty be
    17  assessed against an owner based solely on said owner's failure to file a
    18  proper or timely initial or annual rent registration statement.  If  the
    19  owner establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge
    20  was  neither willful nor attributable to his negligence, the state divi-
    21  sion of housing and community renewal shall establish the penalty as the
    22  amount of the overcharge plus interest at the rate of  interest  payable
    23  on  a judgment pursuant to section five thousand four of the civil prac-
    24  tice law and rules. (i) Except as to complaints filed pursuant to clause
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD06209-01-9

        A. 5251                             2
     1  (ii) of this paragraph, the legal regulated rent for purposes of  deter-
     2  mining  an overcharge, shall be deemed to be the rent indicated in [the]
     3  prior annual registration [statement filed four years prior to the  most
     4  recent  registration statement, (or, if more recently filed, the initial
     5  registration statement)] statements plus in  each  case  any  subsequent
     6  lawful increases and adjustments, less any appropriate penalties. [Where
     7  the  amount  of rent set forth in the annual rent registration statement
     8  filed four years prior to the most recent registration statement is  not
     9  challenged  within  four  years  of  its  filing,  neither such rent nor
    10  service of any registration shall be subject to challenge  at  any  time
    11  thereafter.]  The division of housing and community renewal, in investi-
    12  gating complaints of overcharge and in determining legal regulated rent,
    13  shall consider all available rent history which is reasonably  necessary
    14  to  make  such determinations. (ii) As to complaints filed within ninety
    15  days of the initial registration of a housing accommodation,  the  legal
    16  regulated rent for purposes of determining an overcharge shall be deemed
    17  to  be the rent charged [on the date four years prior to] as of the date
    18  of the initial registration of the housing  accommodation  (or,  if  the
    19  housing  accommodation  was not previously subject to this act [for less
    20  than four years], the initial legal regulated rent) plus in  each  case,
    21  any  lawful  increases  and adjustments, less any appropriate penalties.
    22  Where the rent charged [on the date four years] prior to the date of the
    23  initial registration of the accommodation cannot  be  established,  such
    24  rent shall be established by the division. [Where the amount of rent set
    25  forth  in  the annual rent registration statement filed four years prior
    26  to the most recent registration statement is not challenged within  four
    27  years  of  its filing, neither such rent nor service of any registration
    28  shall be subject to challenge at any time thereafter.]
    29    (a) The order of the state division of housing and  community  renewal
    30  shall  apportion  the  owner's  liability  between  or among two or more
    31  tenants found to have  been  overcharged  by  such  owner  during  their
    32  particular tenancy of a unit.
    33    (b)  (i)  Except  as  provided  under  clauses  (ii) and (iii) of this
    34  subparagraph, a complaint under this subdivision [shall]  may  be  filed
    35  with  the  state  division of housing and community renewal [within four
    36  years of the first overcharge alleged and no determination of  an  over-
    37  charge and no award or calculation of an award of the amount of an over-
    38  charge  may  be  based upon an overcharge having occurred more than four
    39  years before the complaint is filed. This paragraph shall preclude exam-
    40  ination of the rental history of the housing accommodation prior to  the
    41  four-year  period  preceding  the filing of a complaint pursuant to this
    42  subdivision] at any time.
    43    (ii) [No] A penalty of three times the overcharge may be based upon an
    44  overcharge having occurred [more than two years] at any time before  the
    45  complaint  is filed [or upon an overcharge which occurred prior to April
    46  first, nineteen hundred eighty-four.
    47    (iii) Any complaint based upon overcharges occurring prior to the date
    48  of filing of the initial rent registration as provided in subdivision  b
    49  of section twelve-a of this act shall be filed within ninety days of the
    50  mailing of notice to the tenant of such registration].
    51    (c)  Any affected tenant shall be notified of and given an opportunity
    52  to join in any complaint filed by an officer or employee  of  the  state
    53  division of housing and community renewal.
    54    (d)  An  owner  found  to  have  overcharged  shall,  in all cases, be
    55  assessed the reasonable costs and attorney's fees of the proceeding, and
    56  interest from the date of the overcharge at the rate of interest payable

        A. 5251                             3
     1  on a judgment pursuant to section five thousand four of the civil  prac-
     2  tice law and rules.
     3    (e)  The  order of the state division of housing and community renewal
     4  awarding penalties may, upon the expiration of the period in  which  the
     5  owner  may  institute  a proceeding pursuant to article seventy-eight of
     6  the civil practice law and rules, be filed and enforced by a  tenant  in
     7  the  same  manner as a judgment or, in the alternative, not in excess of
     8  twenty percent thereof per month may be offset against any  rent  there-
     9  after due the owner.
    10    (f)  Unless  a  tenant shall have filed a complaint of overcharge with
    11  the division which complaint has not been withdrawn,  nothing  contained
    12  in this section shall be deemed to prevent a tenant or tenants, claiming
    13  to  have  been  overcharged,  from commencing an action or interposing a
    14  counterclaim in a court of competent jurisdiction for damages  equal  to
    15  the  overcharge  and the penalty provided for in this section, including
    16  interest from the date of the overcharge at the rate of interest payable
    17  on a judgment pursuant to section five thousand four of the civil  prac-
    18  tice law and rules, plus the statutory costs and allowable disbursements
    19  in  connection  with  the  proceeding. [Such action must be commenced or
    20  counterclaim interposed within four years of the  date  of  the  alleged
    21  overcharge  but  no recovery of three times the amount of the overcharge
    22  may be awarded with respect to any overcharge which  had  occurred  more
    23  than  two years before the action is commenced or counterclaim is inter-
    24  posed.]
    25    § 2. Subdivision a of section 26-516 of the administrative code of the
    26  city of New York, as amended by chapter 116 of  the  laws  of  1997,  is
    27  amended to read as follows:
    28    a.  Subject to the conditions and limitations of this subdivision, any
    29  owner of housing accommodations who, upon complaint of a tenant,  or  of
    30  the  state  division  of  housing and community renewal, is found by the
    31  state division of housing and  community  renewal,  after  a  reasonable
    32  opportunity  to be heard, to have collected an overcharge above the rent
    33  authorized for a housing accommodation subject to this chapter shall  be
    34  liable  to  the  tenant for a penalty equal to three times the amount of
    35  such overcharge. In  no  event  shall  such  treble  damage  penalty  be
    36  assessed against an owner based solely on said owner's failure to file a
    37  timely  or  proper initial or annual rent registration statement. If the
    38  owner establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge
    39  was not willful, the state division of  housing  and  community  renewal
    40  shall  establish the penalty as the amount of the overcharge plus inter-
    41  est. (i) Except as to complaints filed pursuant to clause (ii)  of  this
    42  paragraph, the legal regulated rent for purposes of determining an over-
    43  charge,  shall  be  the  amount  of rent indicated in [the] prior annual
    44  registration [statement filed four years prior to the most recent regis-
    45  tration statement, (or, if more recently filed, the initial registration
    46  statement)] statements plus in each case any subsequent lawful increases
    47  and adjustments, less any appropriate penalties. [Where  the  amount  of
    48  rent  set  forth  in  the  annual rent registration statement filed four
    49  years prior to the most recent registration statement is not  challenged
    50  within  four  years  of its filing, neither such rent nor service of any
    51  registration shall be subject to challenge at any time thereafter.]  The
    52  division  of  housing and community renewal, in investigating complaints
    53  of overcharge and in determining legal regulated  rent,  shall  consider
    54  all  available  rent  history which is reasonably necessary to make such
    55  determinations. (ii) As to complaints filed within ninety  days  of  the
    56  initial  registration  of  a  housing accommodation, the legal regulated

        A. 5251                             4
     1  rent shall be deemed to be the rent charged  [on  the  date  four  years
     2  prior  to]  as  of  the  date of the initial registration of the housing
     3  accommodation (or, if  the  housing  accommodation  was  not  previously
     4  subject  to  this  chapter [for less than four years], the initial legal
     5  regulated rent) plus in each case, any lawful increases and adjustments,
     6  less any appropriate penalties. Where the rent charged [on the date four
     7  years prior to] as of the date of the initial registration of the accom-
     8  modation cannot be established, such rent shall be  established  by  the
     9  division.
    10    Where the prior rent charged [on the date four years prior to the date
    11  of  initial  registration  of]  for  the housing accommodation cannot be
    12  established, such rent shall be established  by  the  division  provided
    13  that  where  a rent is established based on rentals determined under the
    14  provisions of the local emergency housing rent  control  act  such  rent
    15  must be adjusted to account for no less than the minimum increases which
    16  would  be  permitted if the housing accommodation were covered under the
    17  provisions of this chapter, less any appropriate penalties.  [Where  the
    18  amount of rent set forth in the annual rent registration statement filed
    19  four  years prior to the most recent registration statement is not chal-
    20  lenged within four years of its filing, neither such rent nor service of
    21  any registration shall be subject to challenge at any time thereafter.]
    22    (1) The order of the state division of housing and  community  renewal
    23  shall  apportion  the  owner's  liability  between  or among two or more
    24  tenants found to have  been  overcharged  by  such  owner  during  their
    25  particular tenancy of a unit.
    26    (2) Except as provided under clauses (i) and (ii) of this paragraph, a
    27  complaint  under  this  subdivision  [shall] may be filed with the state
    28  division of housing and community renewal  [within  four  years  of  the
    29  first  overcharge  alleged  and no determination of an overcharge and no
    30  award or calculation of an award of the amount of an overcharge  may  be
    31  based upon an overcharge having occurred more than four years before the
    32  complaint  is  filed] at any time. (i) [No] A penalty of three times the
    33  overcharge may be based upon an overcharge having  occurred  [more  than
    34  two  years]  at any time before the complaint is filed [or upon an over-
    35  charge which occurred prior to April  first,  nineteen  hundred  eighty-
    36  four.  (ii)  Any complaint based upon overcharges occurring prior to the
    37  date of filing of the initial rent registration as provided  in  section
    38  26-517  of this chapter shall be filed within ninety days of the mailing
    39  of notice to the tenant  of  such  registration.  This  paragraph  shall
    40  preclude  examination of the rental history of the housing accommodation
    41  prior to the four-year period preceding the filing of a complaint pursu-
    42  ant to this subdivision].
    43    (3) Any affected tenant shall be notified of and given an  opportunity
    44  to  join  in  any complaint filed by an officer or employee of the state
    45  division of housing and community renewal.
    46    (4) An owner found to have overcharged may be assessed the  reasonable
    47  costs  and  attorney's fees of the proceeding and interest from the date
    48  of the overcharge at the rate of interest payable on a judgment pursuant
    49  to section five thousand four of the civil practice law and rules.
    50    (5) The order of the state division of housing and  community  renewal
    51  awarding  penalties  may, upon the expiration of the period in which the
    52  owner may institute a proceeding pursuant to  article  seventy-eight  of
    53  the  civil  practice law and rules, be filed and enforced by a tenant in
    54  the same manner as a judgment or not in excess of twenty percent thereof
    55  per month may be offset against any rent thereafter due the owner.
    56    § 3. This act shall take effect immediately; provided that:

        A. 5251                             5
     1    a. the amendments to paragraph 1 of subdivision a of section 12 of the
     2  emergency tenant protection act of nineteen seventy-four made by section
     3  one of this act shall expire on the same date as such  act  expires  and
     4  shall not affect the expiration of such act as provided in section 17 of
     5  chapter 567 of the laws of 1974; and
     6    b.  the  amendments  to section 26-516 of chapter 4 of title 26 of the
     7  administrative code of the city of New York made by section two of  this
     8  act  shall  expire  on  the  same date as such law expires and shall not
     9  affect the expiration of such law as provided under  section  26-520  of
    10  such law.
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