New York City is one of the most populated and dense cities in the world. Due to the strong economic strength and allue of the city, it also has a very competitive real estate market. This is particularly true for rental units, which could see dramatic increases in rent. To protect the rights of tenants, and control rental prices, the city has a number of rent gouging and control laws. One of the more significant is rent gouging in the second degree.
The crime of rent gouging in the second degree is a crime in which a landlord forces a tenant to pay a fee on top of rent for a future promise. A common future promise could include the promise to sign a lease or the promise to renew the lease in the future. For rent gouging in the second degree, the amount of money received on top of rent must exceed $250.
There have been many examples of rent gouging in the second degree in the past. One example of this would be a situation in which a landlord has a unit for rent. In the city, it is common that a market-priced lease will receive a number of applications. After the landlord has gone through the applications, they may feel enticed to earn more money based on the demand. If the landlord requires the winning tenant to pay a fee in excess of $250, this could be a violation of the law.
If the fee $250 or more fee was disclosed at the time of marketing, it would not be a violation. However, any additional fee charged for any additional promise or to increase the chance of winning, would be considered a violation.
Defense of the Crime
Those that have been charged with rent gouging in the second degree should consider hiring a lawyer to help with the situation. A NYC criminal lawyer could help build a case. A common defense to the case would be making it difficult to prove that the $250 was for a future promise. A defense attorney could make the case that the landlord required this as an additional fee due to concerns over the tenants credit worthiness or background. Furthermore, if the amount of the penalty was below $250, it would automatically be a first degree offense and the case would be tossed out.
The New York law takes rent gouging in the second degree very seriously. The punishment of the crime will vary considerably from one person to the next. In most cases, the judge will fine the landlord a nominal amount and will require them to reimburse the victim the amount of money, plus additional damages.
If the convicted person has a history of these charges, there could be a more sever penalty. A judge has the right to sentence someone up to 1 year in prison for the crime and fees could increase beyond $10,000 for multiple offenses.
Those that are convicted could also face civil penalties as well. The victim in the case would have a strong case for a civil lawsuit and the city may attempt to restrict the landlord for leasing properties in the future.
In conclusion, rent gouging in the second degree is a serious penalty in New York. Those that are charged with the crime should consider hiring a NYC criminal attorney. NYC criminal lawyers that are experienced in these types of cases will be able to help you to negotiate with the judge and prosecutor. This could help you to avoid more serious penalties and fines due to the crime.