New York City has passed a law, effective January 1, 2025, that restricts how housing providers may review and utilize an applicant’s criminal background in the decision to rent or sell.
Only the following criminal history can be considered: 1. Any sex offense, registered on the New York sex offense registry maintained by the state division of criminal justice services, on the federal sex offense registry, or on a register in any other jurisdiction for which an individual is required to register as a sex offender. 2. Any other misdemeanor conviction under the laws of New York or another jurisdiction where less than three years have passed from (a) the date of release from incarceration, or (b) the date of sentencing for an individual who was not sentenced to a period of incarceration. 3. Any other felony conviction under the laws of New York or another jurisdiction where less than five years have passed from (a) the date of release from incarceration, or (b) the date of sentencing for an individual who was not sentenced to a period of incarceration.
If criminal background is used there are mandatory disclosure and notice requirements to the applicant and a procedure when the criminal background check can be used. Essentially, there must first be preliminary approval of the sale or lease, followed by use of the criminal background check. If the background check results in rescission of the preliminary approval, the applicant must receive notice and an opportunity to respond.
A building with no more than two families living independently of each other is exempt if the owner or members of the owner’s family reside in one of such accommodations, as are rooms in a housing accommodation occupied by the owner or owner’s family.
A key provision protects owners against claims by others potentially injured, who claim the rental or sale was not properly vetted; that is “A covered entity shall be immune from liability in any civil action arising as a result of an alleged act of an individual with a criminal history based on the claim that the covered entity should not have sold, rented or leased, or otherwise granted a housing accommodation or an interest therein, to such individual or as a result of a covered entity’s decision not to perform a criminal background check.”
For more information or if you have any questions, please reach out to your BBG attorney of record or contact us here.
Written by: Sherwin Belkin, Partner in the Firm’s Administrative Law Department.