New legislation hopes to combat tenant blacklists

The lists include tenants who were in housing court

TRD New York /
August 17, 2016 08:31 AM

New proposed legislation aims to help tenants blacklisted for their history in Housing Court.

Councilman Benjamin Kallos on Tuesday introduced legislation to the council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that would force screening companies to provide landlords with fuller descriptions of Housing Court cases. The measure is intended to combat overzealous tenant blacklists, which are compiled by tenant-screening data companies based on Housing Court records.

Housing attorneys argue that the blacklist is riddled with errors and fails to show when a tenant won a case, the New York Times reported. After two years of being homeless, Margot Miller, 68, recently was denied housing at an apartment for low-income seniors when the owner discovered that she had been sued by her previous landlord.

“No one should be condemned to being homeless just because they were in Housing Court,” Kallos said.

The state’s Office of Court Administration previously sold a daily data feed of Housing Court cases to companies, but stopped including tenants names in 2012 amid several complaints. In its place, data companies have sent people to Housing Court to manually record housing cases.

In 2014, the city council passed legislation that are required landlords, property managers and brokers to disclose which screening company they used for background checks. The tenants are allowed to order their files and correct any falsehoods.  [NYT] Kathryn Brenzel