Council Votes to Approve Bill to Safeguard Elderly Tenants’ Rights

Image credit: New York City Council.

On January 19, 2023, the New York City Council voted to approve a bill that would help safeguard elderly renters. Int.673-2022, sponsored by Council Member Crystal Hudson, would entitle renters over the age of 60 facing eviction or termination of tenancy full legal representation at no cost.

The bill’s goal is to ensure that older renters who may already be entitled to representation in eviction proceedings due to low-income status are prioritized for legal services when facing evictions. In 2017, the City Council passed a bill that required the New York City Office of Civil Justice to establish a program that provided legal representation to low-income residents facing eviction in housing court. In 2021, former mayor Bill De Blasio expanded the protections for low-income tenants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For CityLand’s prior coverage, click here.

The bill would also establish a housing support program for older New Yorkers at risk of foreclosure or eviction. The program can issue referrals for assistance to address issues that can contribute to why a person is at risk of eviction or foreclosure. In addition, the Office of Civil Justice is required to work with older tenants to educate and inform them of their rights in housing court.

Council Member Hudson stated, “The passage [of the bill] …set us down a path where we will be able to better care for our older neighbors today and for our aging city tomorrow. With these laws, we’re creating a system whereby no older New Yorker will face an eviction without adequate legal representation…There is no reason why New York can’t be the best city in the country to grow older.”

Council Member Lynn Schulman, a co-sponsor of the bill said in response to its passing, “Our City’s older adults deserve to live with dignity and support…this legislation will help these individuals enjoy their later years in comfort and ease.”

Despite optimism from Council Members, the bill was previously met with some skepticism of how it will be effectively implemented. Representatives from both Legal Aid Society and Encore Community Services expressed concerns during the public hearing for the bill about the increased demands for renter protection without increased funding. Read more about the public hearing here.

The bill passed along with two others with which it was packaged, including Int. 672 that would require older adult centers to create programming in languages spoken by the communities the center serves and Int. 674 that requires the Department for the Aging to develop a “Know Your Rights” information pamphlet and post it on the Department’s website.

The bill is set to take effect 180 days after it becomes law.

By: Vanessa Cameron (Vanessa is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)


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