In today’s uncertain housing market, it may be tempting to ask tenants to provide cash upfront to secure their right to re-let or to obtain a lease to a desirable property. New York law defines this practice as rent gouging and punishes it with criminal penalties.
If you have been accused of rent gouging, retain one of our experienced New York criminal attorneys. Our team of skilled and aggressive lawyers will work tirelessly to win your case. Call us today for a free consultation.
Rent gouging is the practice of soliciting or accepting money or goods in addition to lawful rental charges in exchange for increasing the likelihood that one will obtain a lease or have their lease renewed. In other words, New York law prohibits landlords from soliciting or accepting gifts from potential or current tenants for the chance that they will be more likely to be awarded a new lease term.
Rent gouging in the third degree is a crime, a class B misdemeanor under New York law. The elements of the crime are as follows:
- When a person accepts, agrees to accept, or actively solicits money or goods
- in exchange for the promise of an increased chance to renew or obtain a lease
- and the value of the goods or money is less than $250.00
The penalty for committing a class B misdemeanor may include a sentence of up to three months in jail, or a fine of either $500, or twice the defendant’s gain from committing the rent gouging offense, or both.
Rent gouging becomes a class A misdemeanor when the defendant meets all of the criteria above but solicits items or money at a value of $250 or more. If found guilty of a class A misdemeanor, a person can spend up to one year in jail, pay a fine of $1000, or twice the defendant’s gain from committing the rent gouging offense or have both the fine and the jail term imposed at once.
A person is guilty of rent gouging in the first degree when he solicits money or goods in addition to lawful rental charges as a part of a larger scheme that involves at least three different rental properties. The landlord must accept, attempt to receive, or solicit money or goods from one or more persons in at least three separate transactions, knowing that the money and goods are in addition to the lawful rental fees. In accepting the money and goods, it is understood between the parties that furnishing said consideration would increase the likelihood of the lessor awarding a new lease term to the lessee, and failure to furnish any consideration would decrease the lessee’s chances of obtaining the lease. Under New York Penal Law, rent gouging in the first degree is a class E felony. The maximum penalty for a class E felony is four years imprisonment. The sentence may be reduced depending on moral character and prior criminal history of the defendant.
If you have been accused of rent gouging under NY Penal Law, retain the services of one of the experienced New York criminal lawyers at Tilem & Associates. Our team of skilled lawyers will work tirelessly to achieve the very best outcome of your case. Call us today for a free consultation.