“We encourage all real estate licensees to follow the law,” said James Whelan, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents landlords, developers and brokers. “REBNY conducts extensive trainings and outreach to ensure that our members are up-to-date on all laws.’’
The far-reaching overhaul to New York’s rent laws has been heralded by housing activists as a significant victory for renters and has made the state a national leader in protecting tenants. There are signs it is already shifting the landscape, such as reducing evictions in the city.
The laws, delivered by a Democratic takeover in Albany, marked a momentous shift in power away from the powerful real estate industry.
With the ascent of progressive Democrats, the pendulum was pushed decidedly in favor of renters.
But in practice, it has not always worked out that way.
Unlike any other American city, brokers in New York City wield near monopolistic power over the rental market. They control listings, viewings and signings, and the new laws did not chip away at the brokers’ stranglehold.
That quickly became clear to Madeline Anthony and her boyfriend, Morgan Hirsh, in late December.
After looking at a one-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they told the landlord’s broker that they were ready to submit an application. It required a $5,700 payment to cover the first month’s rent and a security deposit, both of which are standard in leases and still allowed under the new rules.
But the landlord imposed another demand: a deposit for the final month’s rent, raising the total to $8,550. However, the rent laws clearly state that a deposit cannot include both last month’s rent and a security payment.