Tenant Screening Reports (§20-807 - §20-811,§5-625.)
NYC Tenant Screening Reports
Notice about Tenant Screening Reports-As of September 18, 2010, City law requires the posting of signs about the use of tenant screening reports at any location at which business transactions pertaining to the rental of residential property are conducted.
NYC passed a local law titled "Tenant Screening Report Disclosure.". This new law sets forth certain requirements of any person, including real estate brokers who screen prospective tenants. Essentially owner, any brokerage acting as an agent of the landlord, either through an agreement or as a property manager, that requests application information from a prospective tenant or tenant's agent must provide certain disclosures to the tenant.
The disclosures can be found in NYC Administrative Code §20-807 through §20-811. The Department of Consumer Affairs has also have a rule under the local law that can be found in the Rules of the City of New York in §5-625.
Section 20-808 of the law requires any person who requests application information directly from a prospective tenant or their agent to disclose whether the application information will be used to obtain a tenant screening report, including but not limited to credit reports. If the information is being used to obtain a tenant screening report, the name and address of the consumer reporting agency must be provided.
Section 5-625 of the new rule requires a disclosure to also be posted in any location at which the principal purpose is conducting business transactions pertaining to the rental of residential real estate properties. This disclosure must be placed where it is conspicuously visible to a consumer who is seated while the transaction is conducted at such location (such as the broker's office or in a building where units are rented). It should be noted that the rule requires certain type size and color requirements for the disclosure posting. Please see the rule for more information.
What happen if Tenant Screening Report Sign Not Posted ?
Tenant can file a complaint about residential rental agencies/ owner in the City that do not post the "Notice about Tenant Screening Reports" sign required by law.
The sign must include:
• If the agency uses tenant screening reports to make rental decisions
• Which tenant screening reporting company the agency uses
• The agency’s duty to tell you if they do not lease or rent to you based on your tenant screening report
• Your right to dispute the information on your tenant screening report directly with the tenant screening reporting company
• How you can get a free copy of your tenant screening report and your credit report
§ 20-807 Definitions. For purposes of this subchapter, the following definitions shall apply:
a. "Application information" means all information any prospective tenant or tenants is/are required to provide in connection with renting or leasing residential real property, the purpose of which is to gather information about such prospective tenant or tenants, including, but not limited to personal information such as names, addresses, contact information, social security numbers, employment history, rental history or other information pertinent to entering into a real estate tenancy agreement.
b. "Consumer reporting agency" means any person who, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports, tenant screening reports or other investigative consumer reports to third parties.
c. "Person" means any natural person, firm, partnership, joint venture, corporation or association.
d. "Tenant screening report" means any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer's credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, history of contact with any housing, civil or criminal court of any state, or mode of living, which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing a consumer's suitability for housing.
§ 20-808 Disclosure. a. Any person who requests application information directly from a prospective tenant or tenants or such tenant(s)' agent or agents shall disclose to the prospective tenant or tenants the following:
(1) that the application information provided by the prospective tenant or tenants may be used to obtain a tenant screening report and the name and address of the consumer reporting agency or agencies which will be used to obtain such report, or
(2) that the application information provided will not be used to obtain a tenant screening report and that the person requesting such information, and his or her agent(s), do not use tenant screening reports to determine a prospective tenant or tenants' suitability for housing; and
(ii) that pursuant to federal and state law:
(1) if the person requesting the information takes adverse action against a prospective tenant or tenants on the basis of information contained in a tenant screening report, such person must notify the tenant that such action was taken and supply the name and address of the consumer reporting agency that provided the tenant screening report on the basis of which such action was taken;
(2) any prospective tenant against whom adverse action was taken based on information contained in a tenant screening report has the right to inspect and receive a free copy of such report by contacting the consumer reporting agency;
(3) every tenant or prospective tenant is entitled to one free tenant screening report from each national consumer reporting agency annually, in addition to a credit report that should be obtained from www.annualcreditreport.com ; and
(4) every tenant or prospective tenant may dispute inaccurate or incorrect information contained in a tenant screening report directly with the consumer reporting agency.
b. If application information is requested in writing, the statements required by subdivision a of this section shall be in writing, located immediately adjacent to where personal information is requested, and set off in a box and printed in a color that sharply contrasts with the print surrounding it. If application information is requested orally, the person requesting such information shall provide written copies of the statements required by subdivision a of this section.
§ 20-809 Posting of signs. a. Any person requesting application information from a prospective tenant or tenants shall post a sign, the form and manner of which shall be determined by rule of the commissioner, in any location at which the principal purpose is conducting business transactions pertaining to the rental of residential real estate properties. Such sign shall be posted in a location visible to potential subjects of such reports and shall disclose in conspicuous size type the name and address of all consumer reporting agencies used. Such sign shall also contain a statement that consumers are entitled to one free tenant screening report from each consumer reporting agency annually and may dispute inaccurate or incorrect information contained in such tenant screening report directly with the consumer reporting agency.
b. A person requesting application information who has the right to rent or lease housing units in one building with five or fewer housing units that is owned and occupied by such person shall not be required to post a sign pursuant to subdivision a of this section in such building.
§ 20-810 Violations. A person violating sections 20-808 or 20-809 of this subchapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars for the first violation. Subsequent violations shall be subject to civil penalties of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than seven hundred dollars for each violation.
§ 20-811 Hearing authority. a. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department shall be authorized, upon due notice and hearing, to impose civil penalties for the violation of any provision of this subchapter and any rules promulgated thereunder. The department shall have the power to render decisions and orders and to impose civil penalties not to exceed the amounts specified in section 20-810 of this subchapter for each such violation. All proceedings authorized pursuant to this section shall be conducted in accordance with rules promulgated by the commissioner. The penalties provided for in section 20-810 of this subchapter shall be in addition to any other remedies or penalties provided for the enforcement of such provisions under any other law including, but not limited to, civil or criminal actions or proceedings.
b. All proceedings under this subchapter shall be commenced by the service of a notice of violation returnable to the administrative tribunal of the department. The commissioner shall prescribe the form and wording of notices of violation. The notice of violation or copy thereof when filled in and served shall constitute notice of the violation charged, and, if sworn to or affirmed, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein.
6 RCNY Section 5-265, which requires the posting of signs about tenant screening reports pursuant to Section 20-809 of the NYC
Subchapter O: Tenant Screening Report Signs
§ 5-265 Requirements Concerning the Posting of Signs About Tenant Screening Reports.
(a) The sign required to be posted pursuant to § 20-809 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York at any location at which the principal purpose is to conduct business transactions pertaining to the rental of residential real estate properties shall include text printed in the specified size type and shall contain the required information in the order listed below, except that italicized text included below is not part of the text for the sign:
(1) The words “NOTICE ABOUT TENANT SCREENING REPORTS” shall be printed at the top of the sign in one and one half-inch high capital letters.
(2) If application information is or may be used to screen tenants through a report from a consumer reporting agency, the sign shall state in 24-point type as follows: “Tenant screening reports from consumer reporting agencies are sometimes used to assist landlords in making rental decisions. In regard to such reports (Check the applicable box):
____ We do not use such reports.
____ We may use such reports by contacting the following:
• (Insert name and address of each consumer reporting agency that may be contacted, and identify any that are a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency).
• (Use additional lines for each listed agency).
“The law requires us to notify you if we do not lease or rent to you based on information in that report. You also have the right to dispute the accuracy of the information in the report directly with the reporting agency and to obtain a free report from such agency if we do not lease or rent to you based on such report.
“You also are entitled to receive one free report every 12 months from any nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency used by us, as well as a free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can request this free credit report through the website www.annualcreditreport.com. You may dispute the accuracy of any information about you that is contained in such report directly with the credit reporting agency.”
The color of the text of the notice required in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall contrast sharply with the color of the remaining text, and the colors of the printed text shall contrast sharply with the background color of the sign.
All the required information shall be included on one sign that shall be posted at the location at a place where it is conspicuously visible to a consumer who is seated while the transaction is conducted at such location.
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