As a would-be renter in New York City, you would automatically know that having your name affixed to a so-called “tenant blacklist” can’t be a good thing, right?
And yet, notwithstanding that knowledge, you might reasonably be in the dark regarding exactly what that list signifies, its origins and its precise repercussions for you.
A recent New York Times article spotlights the tenant blacklist, noting that it “is compiled by tenant-screening database companies from housing court records.”
That housing court reference is significant, since being involved in a landlord-tenant case in that forum is the springboard for inclusion on the list, which is used by landlords across the city “to weed out risky tenants.”
As the Times duly notes, though, there is a very large problem with the list, namely this: a person’s name can appear on it even in cases where he or she won a judgment against a bad-faith landlord or filed a complaint because of a dwelling that was materially substandard.
Many people say that the list is not necessarily a bad thing, when it is accurate and not abused, given that it can serve as a useful screening device to identify truly problematic tenants.
However, it is flatly the case that the landlord tool does contain erroneous data and produces inequitable outcomes in many cases.
Moreover, and as the Times notes, it undermines the public interest in cases where tenants fear future retaliation for complaining about squalid living conditions.
One city lawmaker recently introduced legislation that, if passed, would mandate fuller details to make the list less susceptible of error and abuse.
Any individual having questions or concerns about the blacklist or any other housing-related question can seek guidance and, when necessary, diligent legal representation from an experienced tenants’ rights attorney.