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May 5, 2017

New York Penal Law 180.55: Rent gouging in the third degree

New York Penal Law 180.55: Rent gouging in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor offense. In simple terms, this penalty relates to asking a tenant or potential tenant for an additional payment of less than two hundred fifty dollars on top of the agreed upon rent in order to secure a lease or renew a lease contract. Asking for extra money from such a person is called rent gouging. This practice is illegal in the state of New York.

It is possible to be charged with rent gouging in the third degree if you accept or make an agreement to accept extra money on top of the monthly rent price solely based on the intention of accepting a tenant or potential tenant. Also, if one were to deny a tenant access to a lease if they do not pay this extra sum of money, they are guilty of New York Penal Law 180.55. Beyond denying the lease, it is also considered rent gouging in the third degree if the chances for accepting the lease are diminished if the tenant or potential tenant does not pay the additional amount of less than two hundred fifty dollars.

There are two additional degrees of rent gouging. New York Penal Law 180.56 deals with rent gouging in the second degree. New York Penal Law 180.57 is rent gouging in the first degree. Both are related offenses and are subject to either repeat offenses or higher sums of agreed upon money aside from the rent in exchange for securing a lease.

Example

Being that New York City is some of the most sought after real estate in the country, for any given apartment there are usually several candidates a landlord considers. If, after interviewing the nominees and narrowing down the possibilities, a landlord calls the family he prefers the most and says that their lease application would be approved pending a $200 payment to the home’s “renovation costs.” If the family paid the landlord this sum and then noticed that the home looked exactly the same as it did when they first viewed it, they are likely to ask the landlord where the money was spent. If the money was kept solely for the securing of the lease and not put into renovation, the landlord is guilty of rent gouging in the third degree.

Defenses

Rent gouging is contingent upon a sum of money paid of less than two hundred fifty dollars to secure a potential lease. It is possible to argue that this payment was paid for the purpose of extending a tenant on their lease or obtaining a new tenant based on this money. For instance, a NYC criminal attorney could argue that the money presented in the charge was paid for securing a lease. It is possible that the money was paid for a pet deposit, for a security deposit, for payment of monthly or yearly amenities (such as hot water, electricity, or gas), a deposit on the furniture in a furnished apartment, or some other legal reason. In this way, one could challenge the charge of New York Penal Code 180.55: rent gouging in the third degree.

Sentence

Being that rent gouging in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor crime, there is a possible maximum of 90 days in prison pending conviction. In addition, one could face up to one year of probation, payment of a fine, and restitution paid to the victim of the rent gouging.

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Queens

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14th Floor,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone

888-977-6335

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