Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter (D-Syracuse) announced that a bill she authored allowing tenants to deduct water and other utility payments from their rent if their landlord is responsible for these payments and is delinquent was signed into law (Ch. 143 of 2020).
“Central New Yorkers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for landlords who don’t hold up their end of the bargain,” Hunter said. “Tenants should have an avenue to deduct payments for these services from their rent if they’re not maintained. I crafted this bill after hearing from local advocates who shared stories about how water shutoffs caused by landlord neglect had affected them. I’m thrilled this legislation has been signed into law to meet the needs of residents in communities across the state.”
Residential tenants sometimes face eviction if they deduct water or utility payments from their rent for just causes. Hunter’s law establishes a clear defense against such actions, and prevents residents from having to seek costly legal assistance for housing court proceedings.
The new law builds on Hunter’s previous efforts to strengthen the rights of New York tenants. Last year, she co-sponsored and passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (Ch. 36 of 2019), which permanently extended rent regulation laws and provided eviction protections for renters. She also sponsored and passed legislation that ensures landlords can’t collect rent if their unit is uninhabitable (Ch. 444 of 2019) and allow those with disabilities to break their lease without penalty if they need to move into housing that better suits their needs (Ch. 320 of 2019).