New York Rent Laws
ETPA Table of Contents

The NYS Emergency Tenant Protection Act (1974) [ETPA]

Sec. 12. ENFORCEMENT AND PROCEDURES. a. (1) Subject to the conditions and limitations of this paragraph, any owner of housing accommodations in a city having a population of less than one million or a town or village as to which an emergency has been declared pursuant to section three, who, upon complaint of a tenant or of the state division of housing and community renewal, is found by the state division of housing and community renewal, after a reasonable opportunity to be heard, to have collected an overcharge above the rent authorized for a housing accommodation subject to this act shall be liable to the tenant for a penalty equal to three times the amount of such overcharge. In no event shall such treble damage penalty be assessed against an owner based solely on said owner's failure to file a proper or timely initial or annual rent registration statement. If the owner establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the overcharge was neither willful nor attributable to his negligence, the state division of housing and community renewal shall establish the penalty as the amount of the overcharge plus interest at the rate of interest payable on a judgment pursuant to section five thousand four of the civil practice law and rules. (i) Except as to complaints filed pursuant to clause (ii) of this paragraph, the legal regulated rent for purposes of determining an overcharge, shall be deemed to be the rent indicated in the annual registration statement filed four years prior to the most recent registration statement, (or, if more recently filed, the initial registration statement) plus in each case any subsequent lawful increases and adjustments. (ii) As to complaints filed within ninety days of the initial registration of a housing accommodation, the legal regulated rent for purposes of determining an overcharge shall be deemed to be the rent charged on the date four years prior to the date of the initial registration of the housing accommodation (or, if the housing accommodation was subject to this act for less than four years, the initial legal regulated rent) plus in each case, any lawful increases and adjustments. Where the rent charged on the date four years prior to the date of the initial registration of the accommodation cannot be established, such rent shall be established by the division. (a) The order of the state division of housing and community renewal shall apportion the owner's liability between or among two or more tenants found to have been overcharged by such owner during their particular tenancy of a unit. (b) (i) Except as provided under clauses (ii) and (iii) of this subparagraph, a complaint under this subdivision shall be filed with the state division of housing and community renewal within four years of the first overcharge alleged and no award of the amount of an overcharge may be based upon an overcharge having occurred more than four years before the complaint is filed. (ii) No penalty of three times the overcharge may be based upon an overcharge having occurred more than two years before the complaint is filed or upon an overcharge which occurred prior to April first, nineteen hundred eighty-four. (iii) Any complaint based upon overcharges occurring prior to the date of filing of the initial rent registration as provided in subdivision b of section twelve-a of this act shall be filed within ninety days of the mailing of notice to the tenant of such registration. (c) Any affected tenant shall be notified of and given an opportunity to join in any complaint filed by an officer or employee of the state division of housing and community renewal. (d) An owner found to have overcharged shall, in all cases, be assessed the reasonable costs and attorney's fees of the proceeding, and interest from the date of the overcharge at the rate of interest payable on a judgment pursuant to section five thousand four of the civil practice law and rules. (e) The order of the state division of housing and community renewal awarding penalties may, upon the expiration of the period in which the owner may institute a proceeding pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules, be filed and enforced by a tenant in the same manner as a judgment or, in the alternative, not in excess of twenty percent thereof per month may be offset against any rent thereafter due the owner. (f) Unless a tenant shall have filed a complaint of overcharge with the division which complaint has not been withdrawn, nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to prevent a tenant or tenants, claiming to have been overcharged, from commencing an action or interposing a counterclaim in a court of competent jurisdiction for damages equal to the overcharge and the penalty provided for in this section, including interest from the date of the overcharge at the rate of interest payable on a judgment pursuant to section five thousand four of the civil practice law and rules, plus the statutory costs and allowable disbursements in connection with the proceeding. Such action must be commenced or counterclaim interposed within four years of the date of the alleged overcharge but no recovery of three times the amount of the overcharge may be awarded with respect to any overcharge which had occurred more than two years before the action is commenced or counterclaim is interposed. (2) In addition to issuing the specific orders provided for by other provisions of this act, the state division of housing and community renewal shall be empowered to enforce this act and its regulations by issuing, upon notice and a reasonable opportunity for the affected party to be heard, such other orders as it may deem appropriate. (3) If the owner is found by the commissioner: (i) to have violated an order of the division the commissioner may impose by administrative order after hearing, a civil penalty in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars for the first such offense and one thousand dollars for each subsequent offense; or (ii) to have harassed a tenant to obtain vacancy of his housing accommodation, the commissioner may impose by administrative order after hearing, a civil penalty for any such violation. Such penalty shall be in the amount of up to one thousand dollars for a first such offense and up to twenty-five hundred dollars for each subsequent offense or for a violation consisting of conduct directed at the tenants of more than one housing accommodation. Such order shall be deemed a final determination for the purposes of judicial review. Such penalty may, upon the expiration of the period for seeking review pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules, be docketed and enforced in the manner of a judgment of the supreme court. (4) Any proceeding pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules seeking review of any action pursuant to this act shall be brought within sixty days of the expiration of the ninety day period and any extension thereof provided in subdivision c of this section or the rendering of a determination, whichever is later. Any action or proceeding brought by or against the commissioner under this act shall be brought in the county in which the housing accommodation is located. (5) Violations of this act or of the regulations and orders issued pursuant thereto may be enjoined by the supreme court upon proceedings commenced by the state division of housing and community renewal or the tenant or tenants who allege they have been overcharged. The division shall not be required to post bond. (6) In furtherance of its responsibility to enforce this act, the state division of housing and community renewal shall be empowered to administer oaths, issue subpoenas, conduct investigations, make inspections and designate officers to hear and report. The division shall safeguard the confidentiality of information furnished to it at the request of the person furnishing same, unless such information must be made public in the interest of establishing a record for the future guidance of persons subject to this act. (7) In any action or proceeding before a court wherein a party relies for a ground of relief or defense or raises issue or brings into question the construction or validity of this act or any regulation, order or requirement hereunder, the court having jurisdiction of such action or proceeding may at any stage certify such fact to the state division of housing and community renewal. The state division of housing and community renewal may intervene in any such action or proceeding. (8) Any owner who has duly registered a housing accommodation pursuant to section twelve-a of this act shall not be required to maintain or produce any records relating to rentals of such accommodation more than four years prior to the most recent registration or annual statement for such accommodation. b. Within a city having a population of one million or more, the state division of housing and community renewal shall have such powers to enforce this act as shall be provided in the New York City rent stabilization law of nineteen hundred sixty-nine, as amended, or as shall otherwise be provided by law. c. The state division of housing and community renewal may, by regulation, provide for administrative review of all orders and determinations issued by it pursuant to this act. Any such regulation shall provide that if a petition for such review is not determined within ninety days after it is filed, it shall be deemed to be denied. However, the division may grant one extension not to exceed thirty days with the consent of the party filing such petition; any further extension may only be granted with the consent of all parties to the petition. No proceeding may be brought pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules to challenge any order or determination which is subject to such administrative review unless such review has been sought and either (1) a determination thereon has been made or (2) the ninety-day period provided for determination of the petition for review (or any extension thereof) has expired. ------------------------------------------ Sec. 12-a. RENT REGISTRATION. a. Each housing accommodation in a city having a population of less than one million or a town or village as to which an emergency has been declared pursuant to section three of this act which is subject to this act shall be registered by the owner thereof with the state division of housing and community renewal prior to July first, nineteen hundred eighty-four upon forms prescribed by the commissioner of such division. The data to be provided on such forms shall include the following: (1) the name and address of the building or group of buildings or development in which such housing accommodation is located and the owner and the tenant thereof; (2) the number of housing accommodations in the building or group of buildings or development in which such housing accommodation is located; (3) the number of housing accommodations in such building or group of buildings or development subject to this act and the number of such housing accommodations subject to the emergency housing rent control law; (4) the rent charged on the registration date; (5) the number of rooms in such housing accommodation; and (6) all services provided in the last lease or rental agreement commencing at least six months prior to the local effective date of this act. b. Registration pursuant to this section shall not be subject to the freedom of information law, provided that registration information relative to a tenant, owner, lessor or subtenant shall be made available to such party or his authorized representative. c. Housing accommodations which become subject to this act after the initial registration period must be registered within ninety days thereafter. Registration of housing accommodations subject to the emergency housing rent control law immediately prior to the date of filing the initial registration statement as provided in this section shall include, in addition to the items listed above, where existing, the maximum rent immediately prior to the date that such housing accommodations became subject to this act. d. Copies of the registration shall be filed with the state division of housing and community renewal in such place or places as it may require. In addition, one copy of that portion of the registration statement which pertains to the tenant's unit must be mailed by the owner to the tenant in possession at the time of initial registration or to the first tenant in occupancy if the apartment is vacant at the time of initial registration. e. The failure to file a proper and timely initial or annual rent registration statement shall, until such time as such registration is filed, bar an owner from applying for or collecting any rent in excess of the legal regulated rent in effect on the date of the last preceding registration statement or if no such statements have been filed, the legal regulated rent in effect on the date that the housing accommodation became subject to the registration requirements of this section. The filing of a late registration shall result in the prospective elimination of such sanctions and provided that increases in the legal regulated rent were lawful except for the failure to file a timely registration, the owner, upon the service and filing of a late registration, shall not be found to have collected an overcharge at any time prior to the filing of the late registration. If such late registration is filed subsequent to the filing of an overcharge complaint, the owner shall be assessed a late filing surcharge for each late registration in an amount equal to fifty percent of the timely rent registration fee. f. An annual statement shall be filed containing the current rent for each unit and such other information contained in subdivision a of this section as shall be required by the division. The owner shall provide each tenant then in occupancy with a copy of that portion of such annual statement as pertains to the tenant's unit. g. Within a city having a population of one million or more, each housing accommodation subject to this act shall be registered with the state division of housing and community renewal as shall be provided in the New York city rent stabilization law of nineteen hundred sixty-nine. h. Each housing accommodation for which a timely registration statement was filed between April first, nineteen hundred eighty-four and June thirtieth, nineteen hundred eighty- four, pursuant to subdivision a of this section shall designate the rent charged on April first, nineteen hundred eighty-four, as the rent charged on the registration date.


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