Landlords in New York have the ability to consult a “blacklist” of tenants who have taken disputes to housing court. Actually, there are multiple lists maintained by different companies. Tenants who are named in holdover actions or non-payment rent proceedings may later find out their names have been added to one or more lists. Landlords often reject prospective tenants whose names are on a list.
Various companies purchase housing court information from New York’s Office of Court Administration, compile lists of tenant names and sell them to landlords. Because there are multiple lists, it is not easy for a tenant to find out if they have been blacklisted, and it’s not easy to get one’s name removed from the list if the information is erroneous. Many tenants don’t find out they are on a list until they are rejected by a landlord.
Housing advocates say the information on the lists is often incomplete or misleading. For example, a tenant who withholds rent for legitimate reasons may end up on the list. One City Councilman has proposed legislation that would prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants on the lists, except in cases where the tenant failed to satisfy the terms of a court order.
A tenant who believes they are on a blacklist can write letters to the various companies and ask for a copy of their listing. If the information is incorrect, they can request that it be changed or removed. But if the tenant is listed because they went to housing court, removal of the information may be more difficult.
Tenants who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated against may have the right to a remedy in court. An experienced landlord and tenant lawyer can help tenants understand their rights and evaluate their legal options.
Source: New York Times, “Recourse for ‘Blacklisted’ Tenants,” Ronda Kaysen, Dec. 19, 2015