Bill Text: NY A06789 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced

Bill Title: Relates to licensing tenant screening bureaus; provides that no person shall act as a tenant screening bureau without first obtaining a license from the department of state.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 14-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-03-20 - referred to judiciary [A06789 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-A06789-Introduced.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                     March 20, 2019
        Introduced  by M. of A. EPSTEIN -- read once and referred to the Commit-
          tee on Judiciary
        AN ACT to amend the real property law, in relation to  licensing  tenant
          screening bureaus
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. The real property law is amended by adding  a  new  section
     2  238-a to read as follows:
     3    §  238-a.  Tenant  screening  bureaus;  licensing. 1. Definitions. For
     4  purposes of this section the following terms shall  have  the  following
     5  meanings:  (a) "File" when used in connection with information about any
     6  tenant or prospective tenant means all  of  the  information  about  the
     7  tenant  or  prospective tenant that is recorded and retained by a tenant
     8  screening bureau, regardless of how the information is stored.
     9    (b)  "Residential  proceeding"  means  a  judicial  or  administrative
    10  proceeding  that  is  related  to residential tenancy, rent or eviction,
    11  regardless of the forum  in  which  such  proceeding  is  initiated  and
    12  regardless  of  whether  such proceeding is initiated by a landlord or a
    13  tenant.
    14    (c) "Tenant screening bureau" means a person that, for a fee, regular-
    15  ly engages in the business of assembling or evaluating information about
    16  individuals for the purpose of furnishing tenant  screening  reports  to
    17  third  parties where such reports are used or are intended to be used in
    18  connection with the rental of residential real property located  in  the
    19  state. Such term shall not include a person who obtains a tenant screen-
    20  ing  report  and  provides  such report or information contained in such
    21  report to a subsidiary or affiliate of such person.
    22    (d) "Tenant screening report" means any written, oral or other  commu-
    23  nication  that  purports  to  contain  information  about  a residential
    24  proceeding involving tenant or prospective tenant who is the subject  of
    25  the  report  and that is used or expected to be used in whole or in part
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 6789                             2
     1  for the purpose of serving as a factor in determining a  tenant's  or  a
     2  prospective tenant's suitability for housing.
     3    2.  License required. No person shall act as a tenant screening bureau
     4  without first having obtained a license in accordance with this section.
     5    3. License term; fees. (a) A license pursuant to this section shall be
     6  valid for two years unless sooner suspended or revoked.
     7    (b) The fee for  a  license  or  a  renewal  thereof  is  seventy-five
     8  dollars.
     9    4. Application. (a) A person applying for a license or a renewal ther-
    10  eof under this section shall file an application in such form and detail
    11  as the secretary of state shall prescribe and shall pay the fee required
    12  by this section.
    13    (b)  The  secretary  of state shall require each person applying for a
    14  license under this section to provide the following information:
    15    (i) the name, address, telephone number  and  e-mail  address  of  the
    16  applicant;
    17    (ii)  if  the  applicant  is  a  nonresident  of  the state, the name,
    18  address, telephone number and e-mail address of a  registered  agent  in
    19  the  state  upon  whom  process or other notification may be served or a
    20  designation of the secretary of state for such purpose; and
    21    (iii) any other information the secretary of state deems relevant.
    22    5.  Required  and  prohibited  practices.  (a)  For  each  residential
    23  proceeding  that  it  refers to, a tenant screening report shall include
    24  all of the following information:
    25    (i) the names of all petitioners in the residential proceeding;
    26    (ii) the names of all respondents in the residential proceeding;
    27    (iii) the name and address of the forum where the residential proceed-
    28  ing was filed;
    29    (iv) the claims alleged in the petition;
    30    (v) in the case of a holdover proceeding, the specific claim or  alle-
    31  gation made by the petitioner as grounds for the proceeding;
    32    (vi)  whether  the rent for the unit that was the subject of the resi-
    33  dential proceeding was regulated by law, as alleged in the petition;
    34    (vii) whether the  respondent  filed  an  answer  in  the  residential
    35  proceeding  and,  if  so,  the  nature  of any defenses asserted in such
    36  answer;
    37    (viii) the outcome, if any, of the  residential  proceeding,  such  as
    38  whether the proceeding was settled, discontinued, dismissed or withdrawn
    39  or  resulted  in  a  possessory  judgment for landlord or tenant or in a
    40  money judgment for landlord or tenant;
    41    (ix) if a rent claim made in the residential proceeding was reduced or
    42  abated, either by agreement of the parties or by court order, the amount
    43  of such reduction or abatement;
    44    (x) the date when information about the residential proceeding will be
    45  permanently removed from the file of the subject of such proceeding; and
    46    (xi) the most current status of the residential proceeding.
    47    (b) No tenant screening bureau may furnish a tenant  screening  report
    48  containing any information about a residential proceeding if:
    49    (i)  such  proceeding is the subject of an expungement order issued by
    50  any court of competent jurisdiction;
    51    (ii) such report does not contain all of the  information  about  such
    52  residential proceeding required by paragraph (a) of this subdivision; or
    53    (iii)  if  such report contains information that the tenant screenings
    54  bureau know or should know is inaccurate.

        A. 6789                             3
     1    6. Powers and duties of the secretary of state. (a) The  secretary  of
     2  state  shall  promulgate  such  rules  as are necessary to implement and
     3  enforce this section.
     4    (b)  The  secretary of state has the power to enforce this section, to
     5  investigate any violation thereof,  and  to  investigate  the  business,
     6  business  practices  and business methods of any tenant screening bureau
     7  if  the  secretary  of  state  determines  that  such  investigation  is
     8  warranted.  A tenant screening bureau that receives a request for infor-
     9  mation from the secretary of state shall supply the  requested  informa-
    10  tion promptly in a manner provided by rule.
    11    (c)  The secretary of state may compel the attendance of witnesses and
    12  the production of documents.
    13    (d) The secretary of state may seek to  enjoin  a  violation  of  this
    14  section  and  may suspend the issuance of any tenant screening report in
    15  order to enforce this section.
    16    7. Civil penalties. (a) A person who, after notice and a  hearing,  is
    17  found  to  have  furnished  another  with a tenant screening report that
    18  violates this section is subject to a  civil  penalty  of  five  hundred
    19  dollars for each such tenant screening report furnished.
    20    (b)  A  person who, after notice and a hearing, is found to have acted
    21  as a tenant screening bureau without a license in violation of  subdivi-
    22  sion  two of this section is subject to a civil penalty of not less than
    23  one thousand dollars and not more than five thousand dollars.
    24    (c) If a person is found  to  have  committed  repeated,  multiple  or
    25  persistent violations of any provisions of this section, such person may
    26  be  responsible for all or part of the cost of the department of state's
    27  investigation.
    28    (d) Each penalty or cost specified in this section is in  addition  to
    29  any other applicable penalty or cost specified in this section or in any
    30  other law.
    31    8. Private right of action. (a) A tenant or prospective tenant who has
    32  been  injured  by a violation of this section, except a violation of the
    33  requirement to obtain a license pursuant  to  subdivision  two  of  this
    34  section, may institute in such tenant's or prospective tenant's own name
    35  (i) an action to enjoin such unlawful act or practice, (ii) an action to
    36  recover  the  greater  of  such  person's actual damages or five hundred
    37  dollars or (iii) both such actions.
    38    (b) In an action for damages under this subdivision, a court may award
    39  punitive damages if  such  court  finds  that  the  defendant  willfully
    40  violated this section.
    41    (c)  In any action under this subdivision, a court shall award reason-
    42  able attorney's fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff.
    43    (d) The issuance of a tenant screening report that the tenant  screen-
    44  ing bureau knew or should have known contained inaccurate information or
    45  otherwise  violated  this  section constitutes an injury for purposes of
    46  this subdivision. This paragraph does not limit the types of other inju-
    47  ries that are legally cognizable under this subdivision.
    48    (e) A tenant or prospective tenant who institutes an  action  pursuant
    49  to  this section shall provide notice of such action to the secretary of
    50  state. The attorney general may intervene in any such action  on  behalf
    51  of the state.
    52    (f)  In  any action brought by a resident, former resident or prospec-
    53  tive resident of the city  involving  the  reporting  of  a  residential
    54  proceeding,  a  party  who  is found during the course of such action to
    55  have violated subchapter III of chapter 41 of title  15  of  the  United
    56  State code or article twenty-five of the general business law shall file

        A. 6789                             4
     1  a  copy  of such finding with the commissioner within sixty days of such
     2  finding.
     3    § 2. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after
     4  it shall have become a law.