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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14 comments
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.

Victim2manytimes
Victim2manytimes

Yes Thank You Very Much Ms. Krueger.  I was dragged back and forth to Court for Seven Months Unjustifiably (I have several Health problems and am Permanently Disabled) because my landlord and his Unethical lawyer retaliated against me for exercising my Constitutional Rights and demands for Repair of Violations that were allowed to exist in my residence for FOUR Years (2010), despite a Court Order demanding them to be taken care of (2006).  One specific Judge even LIED in his written Decisions repeatedly in favor of the landlord (claiming that I didn't have the Rent Money even after I had showed numerous Money Orders dated as far back as 9-17-2011 - This went on from Aug. 2011 to March 2012 - I was forced to File TEN Order To Show Cause to stay in my home and on my Eight the Judge forgot that he wrote that he had seen my Money Orders in the amount of $10,208.04), despite what had been recorded on the Court's Recordings.(??)  The only way the case was resolved is when I recorded the lawyer telling me that "he wouldn't accept my Rent unless I dropped my Complaint with Human Rights" and I Filed a Complaint of Harassment, Bias, and Jeopardizing my Life against that Corrupt Judge. I was forced to record my last conversation because the Judge stopped talking to me in the Court after he discovered that I was obtaining copies of the Court Recordings to prove his Corruption and Unprofessional Conduct  He is up for reappointment and when I wrote to A. Gail Prudenti and Fern Fisher they ignored the matter and claimed that I was asking for the Decision to be reversed, whereby "Why would I request such when I WON  and was able to stay in my home"??  Now the landlord is trying to Evict me yet again because I posted what he, his lawyer, and the Judge forced me to endure on the door to my apartment.  It is being claimed that "the Documents interfere with the Safety of the other Tenants and Prevents them from enjoying their apartments. (???)  "The landlord is the owner of that building in the Bronx where the Fire Escapes were Removed".  Tell me who deserves to be Blacklisted, which I know has been done to me because the Company that collects Housing Court information does not know the FACTS pertaining to my Cases.  They are just out  for Monetary gains and don't care how they Unjustifiably destroy the lives of Innocent Victims.   We need to Pray for our so called Justice System.  When you appear without  an attorney, you get chewed up and spat out with unbelievable ease.

Criminal Records
Criminal Records

Jack,You are using the same basis as Liz, making the majority (good landlords) pay for the few actions of the minority (slumlords). As a matter of fact, slumlords will cash in on this trend by scooping up properties from distressed landlords. I can see them having greater monopoly power to do as they always have and employing more rent collection "enforcers" when renting to those poor, discriminated renters.

Frustrated Landlord
Frustrated Landlord

Jack -you ignore the reality that this change will help no one.  All it does is make the application process more expensive and lengthy for the applicant.  You also fail to address the "wrong" done to me by having an eviction of a non-paying tenant take 12 months.  But I guess wrongs done to me don't count.  If you too were a landlord, you too would also understand the necessity to avoid any prospective tenant who has landed in housing court for ANY reason.  Walk half-a-mile in my shoes and you'd do exactly as I do.

Jstergios
Jstergios

I'm guessing Jack is on the list.  To land in housing court means you've pissed off the landlord enough to take the time to drive to the court, file and pay a fee.  That's all the information I need.

Vance2020
Vance2020

Or it could mean you had no heat and had to go to housing court to get it. Or it could mean your landlord brought an owners-use case to get rid of a rent stabilized unit. It could mean you have a common name. It could mean a lot of things.

Frustrated Landlord
Frustrated Landlord

and PS - we are a republic not a democracy.I pledge allegiance to the flag of the US of A and to the REPUBLIC .....again we are a republic not a democracy.

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!!!

JoeyWall
JoeyWall

Knowing the idiots that run this city, they'll probably pass a bill in a few months capping the application fee that can be charged, which will just pass on the costs to the rent itself....

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