New bill would ban passing “legal fees” to tenants

November 21, 2013 11:28AM

A Bronx assemblyman introduced a bill on Wednesday that would ban landlords from adding legal fees to tenants’ rental bills without either a court order or prior contractual approval. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said the bill would help control surcharge increases that are driving up rents in the city, and would rein in predatory landlords.

Tenants who are late with the rent are often slapped with legal fees under the pretext that the landlord had already hired a lawyer to look into the situation, Dinowitz said. Tenants then feel pressured to pay the legal fees, as they fear eviction, he claims.

“But … most often a lawyer isn’t involved,” Dinowitz told Law360.

The bill would make such charges illegal, according to Law360, except in the case that a tenant’s lease has a clause that allows for them, or if the case goes to court and a tenant agrees to pay the fees, or a judge orders them to do so. [Law360]Hiten Samtani