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Tenant is Suing to Stay Off List of Tenants Who Get Sued

Information meant to help landlords avoid difficult and irresponsible tenants is now hurting responsible tenants and keeping them from renting for years to come. The New York State Office of Court Administration engages in a practice of selling the names of everyone who is sued in housing court for eviction to private companies who then sell it to landlords. However, those screening lists do not make a distinction between renters who ultimately win their cases and those who lose, which is putting many innocent people on a “tenant blacklist.” To avoid facing their landlords in court, many people are sacrificing their tenant rights and are opting to move out instead. James Whelan, a tenant of 17 years, was asked to move by his landlord who wanted his apartment for a relative. Fearful of being blacklisted and refusing to move out, Whelan has preemptively filed a suit in state court to keep his name off those tenant-screening lists. If he wins, the practice of collecting and selling those names in New York may be halted entirely. His lawyer, Mr. Fishman, said: “The state gives tenants lots of rights, but then the state participates in a process that takes away all those rights. If you can’t assert those rights, you might as well not have them.”

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Posted Under: Tenant Screening

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