Harlem senator wants to give tenants more time to challenge rent overcharges

Bill would also re-regulate apartments

Senator Brian Benjamin
Senator Brian Benjamin

Sen. Brian Benjamin wants to increase the amount of time that tenants have to challenge rent overcharges.

Benjamin, a Democrat who represents Harlem, plans to introduce a new bill this week that would allow tenants to file complaints for alleged rent overcharges for six years, the New York Daily News reported. Under current law, tenants only have four years to bring such actions.

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The legislation would also bring apartments deregulated as a result of overcharges back into the rent-regulation system. Landlords could also be hit with penalties even if the overcharges aren’t found to have been a result of fraud or other illegal activity. The measure would also enable the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal to revoke eviction notices in overcharge cases even when the landlord wasn’t accused of fraud or other wrongdoing.

Benjamin said the new law would bring such complaints in line with other contract disputes, which have a six-year statute of limitations. He said the new measure is about “fundamental fairness.”

“The whole bill sounds like pandering by the senator,” said the Rent Stabilization Association’s Frank Ricci. “There’s no justification to look back six years. If you can’t resolve something looking back four years, then it’s nothing more than trying to give leverage to one party over another, and that’s pandering.” [NYDN] — Kathryn Brenzel