Bronx- Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) is preparing to submit four bills in the State Assembly aimed at protecting tenants by curtailing fees and surcharges that are sometimes imposed by landlords without legal authority.
The use of non-rental fees has become a new tactic of landlords to either coerce tenants into paying extra money for various types of fees they do not actually owe, or to push tenants out of their apartments altogether. With an average rent of over $1,000 in New York City, programs that reduce the rent burden on tenants by monitoring landlord fees are essential.
Many landlords are increasing the cost of housing by imposing these non-rent fees, such as surcharges for legal services or the use of a tenant-installed air conditioning unit, without adhering to the regulations set forth by the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) Operational Bulletin. Sighting the need for greater oversight of the levying of fees by city landlords and an increased need for tenant awareness, Assemblyman Dinowitz will submit his package of tenant protection bills that will:
- Prohibit landlords from including any legal fees not awarded pursuant to a court order on any correspondence to a tenant;
- Prohibit landlords from imposing surcharges on a tenant for the use of a tenant-installed air conditioning unit if the tenant pays for the electric utility service;
- Require the DHCR to perform a study on non-rental fees imposed by landlords of housing accommodations subject to rent controlled laws, which will assist the legislature in dealing with landlords who are using these fees improperly for various reasons;
- Require the DHCR to publish an informational pamphlet providing information on the most common non-rental fees that DHCR authorizes landlords to impose on tenants, and provide for the distribution of the pamphlets to landlords and ultimately tenants of rent regulated housing.
"Many landlords have been charging exorbitant fees to which they're not entitled, jacking up the rent for tens of thousands of tenants, Dinowitz said. Its unconscionable that tenants who purchase their own air conditioners and pay their own electric bills should pay additional rent. Its also outrageous that many landlords charge legal fees despite the fact that they have not been allowed to do so by a court. These bills would go a long way towards protecting tenants against unwarranted or illegal fees that make apartments even less affordable, while at the same time allowing landlords to only charge fees that are appropriate."