Real Estate Weekly
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Deals & Dealmakers

Stringer backs new legislation aimed at helping renters boost their credit score

Comptroller Scott M. Stringer joined Council Members Andrew Cohen and Carlina Rivera in proposing legislation that would require any landlord or leasing agent that charges a prospective tenant a credit check fee to share that credit report with the applicant, regardless of whether a lease is signed.

The legislation would grant tenants unprecedented access to their credit history at the moment they need that information the most.

The bill would also mandate that prospective tenants not be charged a fee for a tenant screening report unless the rental unit is available during the time period that a renter is looking to occupy the dwelling, helping protect tenants from unfair fees that are charged by leasing and acting agents.

The proposed legislation stems from a 2017 report by Comptroller Stringer called Making Rent Count, which aimed to help New Yorkers lift their credit scores, save money, and alleviate disparities in credit histories across the city.

The report showed how adding rental information to credit files can help boost credit scores for New Yorkers and reduce credit disparities.

While consumers can generally request a limited number of free credit reports from credit bureaus, it is common practice that landlords and leasing agents charge housing applicants a fee to perform a more comprehensive check, passing on the cost to the applicant without disclosing the results of the report.

“When a tenant hands over an apartment application fee to have their credit history reviewed by a landlord or leasing agent, they deserve to have access to that credit report. The process of finding and qualifying for an apartment is exactly when a tenant needs their credit information the most and this bill would provide crucial insight into the health and accuracy of tenants’ credit and financial histories,” said Stringer.

“Helping New Yorkers take control of their credit is critical to solving the affordability crisis by helping consumers gain new financial opportunities, reduce costs of borrowing, and save money. redit is at the core of upward mobility and financial empowerment, and it should not be taken for granted.”

The bill follows a series of pilot projects that enable participating residents to opt-in to have their monthly rent payments count toward their credit scores, just as mortgage payments do for homeowners – helping tenants take control of their credit and secure better rates for loans, insurance, cell phone bills and more.

The initiative has expanded to 2,600 apartment units, split between the Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association in the Bronx, Ocean Bay Apartments in Queens, and the Grand Street Guild Apartments in Manhattan.

“This piece of legislation aims to protect New Yorkers from the unscrupulous practices used by some real estate agents” said Cohen.

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