Renters’ upfront costs capped in proposed legislation

State and city bills would limit security deposits to one month’s rent and place them with a third party custodian.

A package of bills introduced in Albany and City Hall Wednesday would give New York renters relief when it comes to upfront costs.

The pieces of legislation in both government bodies would limit the amount of money paid for a security deposit to one month’s rent, allow renters to pay their deposit in installments and mandate that landlords return the money to the tenant within weeks of the lease’s end. An additional state bill would create a protection program that would place deposits in the hands of a third-party custodian.

The legislative package follows a report released last year by City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office that found New Yorkers coughed up a combined $507 million for deposits in 2016. 

"It’s preposterous that a landlord can demand many months’ rent from a tenant and there’s little recourse if they just decide to keep it," Stringer said in a statement. 

Stringer and the elected officials who introduced the bills, including State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, said those upfront costs are a major burden on New Yorkers who are already facing rising rents.

"Creating a fair system where residents know what landlords can charge them eliminates the abuse caused by bad actors in the real estate market," Rivera said in a statement.

Stringer’s office launched a survey Wednesday on comptroller.nyc.gov that will collect information and data from New Yorkers on their security deposits and any issues they’ve encountered with landlords regarding those funds. 

Ivan Pereira