On June 14, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which he described as “the strongest possible set of reforms that the Legislature was able to pass and are a major step forward for tenants across New York.” The Act is a sweeping reform of laws governing rent control, rent stabilization, landlord duties, and procedure for landlord-tenant proceedings.
Under the Act, the window to serve the petition has been shifted forward, and service must now be between ten (10) and seventeen (17) days before the initial appearance date. The practical import of this change is that petitioners will need to choose an initial appearance date that is, on average, five days later than before. RPAPL 733(1).
Notices are required for Terminating Tenancies: Less then a year = 30 days; More than 1 year, but, less than 2 years = 60days; more than 2 years = 90 days.
Under the Act, however, either party can get an adjournment of the first trial date by simply stating that they have not been able to gather the necessary evidence or witnesses. The second trial date, and any subsequent trial dates, can also be adjourned in the discretion of the court. The practical effect of this is that once a case has been set down for trial, it is certain to take a much longer time before the petitioner is able to actually present evidence and testimony and receive a final disposition of the case. RPAPL 745.
Under the act, the Notice of eviction has increased from 72 hours to 14 days. RPAPL 749 The stays of the warrant were authorized for six months, which under the act, as increased to one year. RPAP 753. We can expect, therefore, that Courts will be inclined to stay warrants more often and for longer periods. .
The Act makes one change specifically directed at post-foreclosure cases: they will be sealed and kept confidential. The intention is to enable post-foreclosure occupants to find a new apartment once a judgment has been entered against them. In this sense, this is a positive change for our clients, since occupants should be able to vacate sooner. On the other hand, this may create an obstacle in on-boarding transfer files: If prior counsel has not kept a complete record, it will be more difficult to obtain the records from court. RPAPL 757.
The Act provides a new statewide provision on unlawful evictions. Any person committing an unlawful eviction, or assisting one, can be prosecuted for a class A misdemeanor and subject to civil penalties. The civil penalties are between $1,000 and $10,000 per occurrence, with an additional penalty of $100 per day after an occupant requests to be reinstated. RPAPL 768.
These changes, although numerous, have a principal effect of prolonging various aspects of our cases. They do not fundamentally alter the way these cases are brought, the proof we need to collect, or our drafting. As the courts adjust to these new procedures, we will seek to develop strategies for minimizing these new delays.
For more information regarding this law, please contact Deborah Gallo, Director of Operations at [email protected]