Landlords Denied Access to Data on Tenants

by | May 14, 2012 | Tenant Screening

New York Housing Court will no longer make tenant data easily accessible to landlords, a move officials say will prevent discrimination.

In a letter to State Sen. Liz Krueger, Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti confirmed that the names of individuals in housing court actions will no longer be sold in electronic form by the New York State Unified Court System to tenant screening companies.

Information regarding individual cases will continue to be available through the Unified Civil Courts’ eCourts website and in the Housing Court clerks’ offices.  However, cases will have to be researched individually, which could drive up the application costs, and delay the application process for tenants. 

Sen. Krueger refers to the previously unrestricted sale of tenant names in electronic form to tenant screening companies as discriminatory.

A coalition of New York City elected officials and tenants’ advocates brought the issue to Judge Prudenti’s attention earlier this year.

These tenant advocates fear that individuals can end up blacklisted without having done anything wrong. Thousands of tenants are named as parties in Housing Court cases each year, they say, because their landlords face foreclosure, as the result a government agency failing to pay a rent subsidy on time, or as the result of an error. Even when these cases are quickly dismissed, the tenants’ information remains in the system and is sold to tenant screening companies, causing long-term damage.

In addition, they say that with New York City’s tight rental market and soaring property values, unscrupulous landlords routinely bring Housing Court proceedings to harass rent-regulated tenants and drive them from their homes. With the practice of blacklisting, a landlord could merely threaten to name a tenant as a defendant in housing court, and win or lose, that tenant would be faced with a black mark that could make it difficult or even impossible to secure housing in the future.

Krueger says that tenant blacklisting has had a chilling effect on tenants’ ability to exercise their legal rights. Tenants legally entitled to withhold their rent to enforce their right to safe and habitable housing have had to fear permanent consequences merely from being named in an eviction proceeding, even if their landlord is unsuccessful in the court action itself.

New York City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick adds, “Tenants who assert their rights in court should feel secure that Courts are not going to make it easier for landlords to hold it against them the next time they try to rent an apartment.”

The change goes into effect June 1, 2012.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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