Real estate was among top consumer gripes in 2019

Landlord-tenant disputes generated nearly 2,000 complaints to the AG in 2019

Mar.March 02, 2020 03:00 PM
Letitia James (Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images, iStock, Pixabay)

Letitia James (Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images, iStock, Pixabay)

Landlord-tenant disputes generated more consumer complaints in the state last year than all but three other sources.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Monday that the disputes — from harassment issues to conflicts over security deposits — ranked fourth among New Yorker’s top consumer complaints. James’ office released a list of the 10 most common complaints received by her office.

James’ office received 1,910 complaints in 2019 related to landlord-tenant disputes. But thanks to the state’s rent laws passed last year, tenants have new protections, such as a $20 cap on rental applications and a one-month limit for security deposits.

Landlord-tenant conflicts were not the only real estate-related complaints that made the attorney general’s top-10 list, released to kick off National Consumer Protection Week.

Eighth on the ranking were complaints about home repair and construction, with 901 in 2019. A prevalent consumer complaint today relates to solar power: Companies offer power purchase agreements for people to use solar energy, but these are long-term contracts that can’t be canceled without severe penalties, according to James’s office.

Mortgage-related issues, from loan broker fraud to foreclosures, closed out the ranking, with 493 complaints. One common type stems from scammers trying to take over deeds to homes. They often claim to pay the mortgage for a homeowner while holding on to deeds temporarily. But in reality, they steal homes, according to the attorney general.

Together, these three categories made up just under a fifth of the 17,610 calls the attorney general’s office received for the 10 most-complained-about categories.

The other types of complaints on the list were: Internet-related, the top complaint category for the 14th year running; consumer-related; automobile; utilities; credit; retail sales; mail order and online catalogs.

Write to Mary Diduch at [email protected]

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