Assembly Passes Kavanagh Bill Offering Legal Fees When Landlords Challenge Tenancy with False Claims

May 6, 2009
On May 6, 2009, the Assembly passed A.00473A, a bill introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Liz Krueger, that would allow rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants to recover attorneys’ fees and damages from landlords who challenge their primary residency in bad faith.

In the 74th Assembly District and throughout the city, some landlords have attempted to evict tenants on the grounds of non-primary residence through allegations they know, or have reason to believe, are false. Often these measures are applied indiscriminately in the hopes of generating vacancies in apartments that can then be decontrolled and rented at higher rates. Kavanagh’s bill would allow a judge to determine that landlords have challenged tenants in bad faith by making false claims, and to order such landlords to reimburse court costs, attorneys’ fees, and the greater of three times the monthly rent or actual damages suffered by the tenant.

The Assemblymember has also introduced bill A.03912, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Tom Duane, which would address frivolous attempts to evict tenants in cases other than non-primary residence challenges.