The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 significantly expands the procedure for handling non-payment of rent. If rent is not received within 5 days of the due date, the landlord must send a written notice to the tenant “stating the failure to receive such rent payment” by certified mail.
The landlord must retain the receipt, and if no receipt is retained it may be used as a defense of non-payment in order to dismiss a non-payment case against a tenant. In addition, failure to provide this notice “may be used as an affirmative defense by such lessee in an eviction proceeding based on the non-payment of rent.” Furthermore, the tenant must also receive a fourteen (14) day demand for rent in addition to the aforementioned 5 day notice.
Any demands for rent and subsequent non-payment summary judgement may only be in the amount of the rent and cannot include any other charges such as late fees. In addition, the amount of time a tenant has to answer a non-payment petition has increased to ten (10) days from five (5). Furthermore, landlord’s counsel is now required to submit a written motion to request continued rent payment during proceeding. Prior to the 2019 legislation, an oral motion for continued rent payment was permitted.
The 2019 legislation also permits tenants to bring forth orders to show cause and seek further stays of courts determination after trial. Previously, a trial was the final determination in a non-payment proceeding.
In addition, the new legislation has created a new criminal offense of wrongful eviction. Landlords who illegally evict a tenant or harass a tenant out of dwelling unit are subject to prosecution for a Class A Misdemeanor and a fine between $1,000 and $10,000.