City Council Passes Legislation to Limit Fees Landlords Can Collect From Tenants for Early Vacancies

Image credit: New York City Council.

The bill amends the landlord’s duty to mitigate damages for an early vacancy of a leased residence. On November 23, 2021, the City Council passed Int. 2312-A, which limits the fees landlords can collect from tenants who vacate prior to the end of a lease to prepare the property for the next rental. The bill, sponsored by Council Member Kevin C. Riley, helps balance the needs of landlords to pay for the maintenance of units in preparation for re-rental and protects tenants from exorbitant fees.

In 2019, the State Legislature passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA). The act provided many protections for tenants and restrictions on landlords in terms of rent regulation, increases, apartment maintenance, and other tenants rights issues. One part of HSTPA limited the damages associated with vacating a residence before the end of a lease term by imposing a duty on landlords to mitigate damages attributed to lost rent. For example, if a tenant vacated a residence four months into a one-year lease, the landlord would not be able to do nothing, allow the apartment to sit empty for the remaining eight months of the lease, and then claim the tenant cost them the eight months’ rent; the landlord would have a duty to take “reasonable and customary actions” to rent the unit to a new tenant. Renting to a new tenant would end the previous lease, and reduce the damages associated with vacating earlier for the prior tenant. 

However, this duty did not limit fees and penalties that a landlord could seek to collect in preparing a residence for re-rental. This could result in landlords charging any fee to cover supposed costs to prepare the apartment for the next rental, putting a large financial burden on tenants. As a result, Int. 2312-A limits the fees that a landlord can recover when a tenant vacates early to the fair market costs necessary to prepare the residence for rental. The landlord would also be required to provide an itemized list to the tenant detailing the calculation of these costs. 

The bill passed unanimously, and will go into effect 180 days after becoming law, and shall apply to leases entered into on or after that date. 

Council Member Riley stated, “Int. 2312 calls to ensure all New York families are supported while ongoing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bringing us one step closer to renter’s relief, this legislation protects tenants from unwarranted fees by the landlord where a tenant must vacate a premise in violation of the terms of a lease. However, it also provides assistance to small landlords who help provide housing for New Yorkers, ensuring that they are able to maintain their property reasonably. It is my hope that my colleagues will stand with me on this legislation, which promotes fair rental agreements between tenants and landlords, as it is called to vote today.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.