Courts Will Stop Selling Information that Landlords Use in 'Tenant Blacklists'

lizkreuger.jpeg
via nysenate.gov
State Senator Liz Krueger
Some good news today for those of you who pick fights with your landlords, or who are harassed by them for no good reason: New York courts are going to stop selling your names to companies that make it harder for you to secure your next apartment.

This policy change in the New York State Unified Court System is going after a phenomenon called "tenant blacklisting," where landlords basically reject potential tenants whose names are on a list, which says they have been parties in housing court actions. These lists don't say what they've done, or what the situation was, or if the tenant brought the landlord to court, or visa-versa. It just says that the tenant was involved in housing court at some point, and because there's such a high demand for housing in the city, that's often reason enough for landlords to immediately reject an applicant. In some cases, landlords may even mistake a potential tenant for someone on the list with the same first and last name.

Basic housing court records have typically been sold to tenant screening companies that create lists, which landlords and real estate management agents use to filter out tenants. Now, State Senator Liz Krueger announced today, that information -- maintained by hundreds of tenant screening companies across the country -- will no longer be sold electronically, which Krueger hopes would greatly curb discriminatory practices.

Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti sent a letter to Krueger, who represents parts of Manhattan, informing her that the courts would stop these sales as of June 1st, 2012. Information regarding individual cases will still be available through the Unified Civil Courts' eCourts website and in the Housing Court clerks' offices, but those avenues would require interested parties to actively seek out the information.

Krueger and a coalition of electeds and tenants' advocates brought the issue to Prudenti's attention earlier this year.

"It has had a freezing impact on people's abilities to find new apartments," Krueger told the Voice today. "It has translated into people fearing going to housing court...because they are terrified of being blacklisted."

She said that the practice has particularly impacted low-income residents seeking apartments, since there is such a shortage of truly affordable housing in the city.

The fundamental problem, she said, is that tenants can end up on these lists having done nothing wrong. "No matter what the realities are about you, or your ability to pay rent, or your reputation as a good neighbor, none of that matters."

It has been a bit of a tough issue to tackle, in part because Krueger didn't want want to restrict access to public documents that must be available. "But how do you stop exploitation...and the totally flawed use of information?"

This latest move, she said, would make it so that landlords could not simply cross-check every person who wants an apartment with a centralized list.

Krueger said she plans on monitoring the impact of this policy shift to see if it stops the discriminatory practices. "It's outrageous, and it's been going on for years," she said. "We all need to watch what happens."

[SamTLevin / @SamTLevin]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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15 comments
pauls5775
pauls5775

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO HELP GOOD LANDLORDS WHO MAINTAIN THEIR RENTAL PROPERTIES, PAY THEIR TAXES, WHO ARE END UP WITH TOO MANY OF THESE DEADBEAT TENANTS WHO DO NOT PAY THEIR RENT FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS LEAVING THE LANDLORD WITHOUT INCOME TO TAKE PROPER CARE OF HIS PROPERTY, ENDS UP USING HIS PERSONAL INCOME TO COVER COST FOR THE DEADBEAT TENANT WHO THINKS ITS HIS/HER RIGHT TO BE TAKEN CARE OF BY THE LANDLORD.  THEY KNOW THEY CAN COME TO COURT AND LIE TO THE JUDGE ABOUT HAVING PAID THEIR RENT (WHICH TOO OFTEN THEY DID NOT), THEY KNOW THAT THE STATE WILL TAKE ITS TIME EVICTING THEM GIVING THEM MONTHS AND MONTHS OF FREE RENT AT THE LANDLORD AND HIS/HER FAMILY EXPENSE.  YES THERE ARE BAD LANDLORDS OUT THERE... HOWEVER, THE TREND HAS NOW CHANGED TO MORE DEAD BEAT TENANTS WHO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE COURT SYSTEMS AND LANDLORDS!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THE GOOD LANDLORDS?  


I HAVE A RENTAL THAT HAS NEVER HAD MOLD IN IT ... YET DEADBEAT TENANTS SUE THE "MOLD" EXCUSE TO NOT PAY RENT TOO OFTEN WITH THE LANDLORD SPENDING MORE AND MORE OF HIS/HER LIMITED RESOURCES (SINCE THE DEADBEAT TENANT OFTEN HAS NOT PAID THEM RENT OR PAYS THE RENT WHENEVER THEY FEEL IN THE MOOD!)  


WHO PROTECT GOOOD LANDLORDS.... YOUR WAY OF THINKING ENCOURAGES DEAD BEAT TENANTS TO CONTINUE CHEAT LANDLORDS AND ENCOURAGES LANDLORDS WHO ONCE WERE GOOD TO "STOP CARING AT ALL" WHAT THE US... THIS IS A LOSE, LOSE SITUATION... SO A MESSAGE TO ALL GOOD LANDLORDS ... GET OUT OF THE RENTAL BUSINESS IT IS JUST NOT WORTH IT THESE DAYS...

Criminal Records
Criminal Records

Run for cover, it's the liberals at it again.

So now middle class americans who worked hard, saved and paid taxes to finally have an income property (with little or no equity in today's market) end up once again, getting the shaft. The basis of this bill is totally absurd given the fact that a landlord must already comply with the FCRA by ascertaining that any court records do indeed belong to your potential renter, (not someone with same name or a relative) In addition, you should offer your potential renter an opportunity to dispute any errors in the report. That's why it is called the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So esentially this bill wipes out the FCRA since you will no longer obtain correct or wrong records.

Next item in the agenda, make landlords give registered sex offenders their first month rent free.

NYC Renters' Alliance
NYC Renters' Alliance

We hope that LL's will itemize the extra housing court search fee and enclose a postcard addressed to the Senator stating 'Thanks to Sen. Krueger's actions, you had to pay an extra $50 application  fee.  As most housing court actions are conducted against rent regulated tenants, and these tenants rarely move, you are bearing even more of the cost of NYC's failed rent regulatory regime"

David Margolies
David Margolies

It was supposed to be happened as many tenants where effected as LL always  reject the good  tenants with same first name and last name  that were in the lists making it hard to rent a  place in the city .might be this law will be helpful in stopping these practices

Jack Foreigner
Jack Foreigner

In weighing competing claims, one should take special note of the party with less power...after all, the whole point of democracy is to prevent the concentration of power, since power corrupts.

There are plenty of scumlords in this city who want their rent in-full on-time but do not uphold their end of the bargain.  The fact that any landlord uses such lists, which provide no information other than the fact that there was a dispute, just goes to show that such landlords do not care about right and wrong.

People who do not care about right and wrong should definitely not be listened to in matters of right and wrong.

Thank you, Ms. Krueger, for justice at last.

Landlord Connection
Landlord Connection

Isn't this special?  Who are you llooking out for Liz?  Some deadbeat who lies  constantly or the guy trying to provide a place to live and maybe make a few bucks for retirement?

I won a tenant screening company and don't provide lists of deadbeats to landlords but we can process your applications in a few hours and provide much more information for you for all 50 states.  Our website is landlordconnection.com and we've been in business since 1995 and landlords since 1977.  We started the business by landlord for landlords. 

Bikerboynyc
Bikerboynyc

With court records and credit scores readily available, I don't charge for applications and can do one hour turn around on applications......for a few more weeks. Now I'll have to charge for an application if you apply to me directly and I'll have to build it into the rent where I use a broker. The good renters will just end up paying for the bad apples.

Frustrated Landlord
Frustrated Landlord

I'm a landlord.  Because of this new rule change, my application fee will go from $75 to $200.  And the time to get approved went from 24 hours to 3 days.  So if you're staying in a hotel don't expect a quick turnaround on your application.The unintended consequences of this action are so obvious.  What are you thinking Liz?Liz, if you want to fix something why don't you fix the housing court?  In most states a nonpaying tenant is evicted in less than a month.  Here it takes almost a year now.  There's no need for a "black list" if our housing courts worked properly.  The right way to fix the issue was to speed up the courts.  Period.You're CRAZY if you think I'm going to rent an apartment to someone without knowing if they've been to housing court for any reason.  12 months to evict Liz - fix that!!!

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