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FAQs about New York's tenant "blacklist"

Finding the perfect apartment in New York can be difficult. Managing location with housing needs with a reasonable budget can be stressful. Unfortunately for some New Yorkers, an already difficult process is made even worse due to the "blacklist".

What is the "blacklist"?

The blacklist is a list put together by tenant-screening database companies. The information used to put together this list is based primarily on housing court records. Landlords often use this list to help determine whether they will approve or deny an application for housing.

How do people get "blacklisted"?

The two most common ways that a tenant could end up on the blacklist include:

  • Eviction. Anyone that is evicted for any reason could be on the blacklist.
  • Withheld rent. Tenants may withhold rent for a number of reasons. In some cases, the tenant cannot afford to pay rent. In others, the tenant is using the rent payment as a means to get a landlord to complete a repair or renovation.

When these issues lead to housing court, odds are high the tenant's name will appear on the tenant blacklist.

Opponents of the use of tenant blacklists argue that they are inaccurate. A recent report by the New York Times discussed these inaccuracies, noting that even tenants that win their cases are put onto these lists.

In an effort to ensure that the information on these lists is accurate, Councilman Benjamin J. Kallos introduced a piece of legislation that would require screening companies to provide a description of the case, including whether the tenant won. This is just one of many proposals pushing to reform this system currently under consideration.

Will blacklists go away?

It is not likely that blacklists will go away anytime soon. However, the various proposals under consideration may result in laws that help to better ensure the lists are more accurate.

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