NY Daily News – Landlords overcharging rent-stabilized tenants could face stiffer penalties

Landlords overcharging rent-stabilized tenants could face stiffer penalties

ALBANY – Landlords who overcharge a rent-stabilized tenant would face tougher fines under a bill set to be introduced by two Manhattan state lawmakers, the Daily News has learned.

The bill by Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, both Democrats, would increase penalties against landlords to five times the amount of the overcharge, plus interest, for a first violation and 10 times the amount for subsequent violations.

“It’s imperative we send a strong message to landlords that failure to comply with the law will not be tolerated,” Hoylman said. “Under our legislation, any landlords who cheat New Yorkers out of affordable housing in this manner will face stiff and compounding penalties until they hold up their end of the agreement.”

Under current law, landlords found to be overcharging tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are hit with penalties of three times the overcharge for each violation.

In drafting the bill, Hoylman and Rosenthal cite a recent ProPublica report that found as many as 200,000 apartments in New York City that should be rent stabilized under the law are not.

“For wealthy landlords and developers, the existing penalties for overcharging a rent-regulated tenant or failing to register a rent-regulated unit are merely the cost of doing business,” Rosenthal said. “Landlords and developers must no longer be allowed to use the public’s tax dollars to game their system for their own personal gain.”

A spokesman for the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents landlords, did not return a call seeking comment.