By Heather Grossmann
MANHATTAN — The City Council passed legislation on Thursday requiring that landlords provide greater transparency during the tenant screening process.
Landlords are routinely sold copies of housing court histories that misrepresent prospective tenants, which leads to deserving renters being denied housing, the City Council said. Because renters often have no idea that the landlords are obtaining these reports, they are powerless to correct any inaccurate information.
Housing court data is reported by name, not social security number, causing landlords to frequently get the wrong reports, the City Council said.
The reports many landlords obtain also fail to disclose the context of a renter’s appearance in housing court. If someone goes to court because they are involved in a rent strike to protest adverse living conditions, the report simply shows a housing court action for non-payment.
“Prospective tenants across our city have been denied by landlords for the simple fact that their tenant screening report shows a housing court action,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.
"By streamlining the process for tenants and giving them easier access to reports they are entitled to view, we can ensure that all New Yorkers are given a fair chance to find a new home.”
The new law, called the “Tenant Fair Chance Act,” requires landlords to provide would-be renters with the names and addresses of any screening companies they use.
“Today, we are taking another step to ensure that the deck is not stacked against the renters of this city,” Council Member Dan Garodnick said in a press release.
“By improving the accuracy and transparency of tenant screening reports, we are making sure that tenants who assert their rights in court don't face a backlash for it the next time they try to rent an apartment.”