In February 2011 new legislation was passed to protect tenants from blacklisting. The Tenant Fair Chance Act requires landlords, real estate brokers and management companies, that rent apartments in buildings with five or more units, to disclose whether they use a screening agency when selecting tenants, and to supply its name and address. If your rental application is denied, you must be notified in writing and given the reason why. The law allows tenants to get a fee copy of the report. You can monitor what's on it and ask the screening agency to correct any mistakes or stale information that should have been cleared.
If you do end up in a fight with your landlord and subsequently resolve it, there's specific language you can add to a settlement agreement to help minimize the damage resulting from being named in a Housing Court proceeding. Click here to see a sample of the wording in that kind of agreement, called a "stipulation," from the City-Wide Task Force on Housing website.
If you discover a mistake or discrepancy, contact the tenant screening service. See the City-Wide Task Force on Housing's sample letter for tenant screening bureaus at this link . In this case, the letter asserts that the suit was brought in error. Of course, any sample documents should be customized to the actual facts of your case, and be accurate in what they state.
By law, tenant screening companies are required to remove data that is more than seven years old. If you meet with refusal or failure to update your records when certain data should be deleted, you may have to pursue legal action to clear your name.
These samples give you an idea of how to proceed. Generally, when it comes to preparing written documents it's best to consult an experienced Tenant's lawyer. Drafting the right language can be tricky, and experienced Landlord Tenant attorneys know the traps to avoid. Your case may have certain unique facts that need to be accounted for in the wording.
When it comes to dealing with the effects of blacklisting, at present there aren't any foolproof strategies or complete solutions. You may take these steps and still have difficulties. Nevertheless, it's important to handle damage control as best you can.
Attention New York City Tenants: See this new page that has just been added to the McAdams Law main site on Bad Conditions .