LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label rental fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rental fraud. Show all posts

Monday, January 10, 2022

Suffolk County Renters: BEWARE!

Suffolk County renters: BEWARE! Those looking to rent in Suffolk County, New York should proceed with caution when searching for a rental home. 


In an effort to protect Suffolk County tenant/residents from rental fraud, the County Legislature has amended Local Law No. 30-2021. Rental fraud is committed when a person or entity leases a residential or commercial property to another, when that person or entity does not have an ownership interest in the property or authorization from the owner to lease the property. Properties that are vacant or foreclosed upon are typically the kinds of properties that are used for rental fraud. 


The law now states that "persons seeking to rent or lease real property MAY [emphasis added] demonstrate ... ownership interest or authorization to rent, lease or sublet real property." Ownership interest for real property can be demonstrated to a potential tenant via a fully signed and valid deed or a fully signed lease agreement. Similarly, a person can demonstrate they have authorization from the property owner to rent or lease the property by providing a potential tenant with proof of agency. 


The problem with this new law is that the Legislature does not actually require those looking to lease out their real property to prove that they are indeed the owner of the property. If the Legislature actually wants to protect potential tenants from rental fraud, they need to revise this law immediately and require that persons seeking to rent out real property provide proof of ownership or agency authorization incident to such rental.


Those who commit rental fraud and are caught will face penalties subject to a fine of up to $1,000.00 and/or up to six months imprisonment. Do you think the punishment fits the crime? 


In the meantime, potential tenants can and should take additional steps to protect themselves where the Legislature has fallen short. As rental fraud has become a hot topic in Suffolk, potential tenants should do their research, as well as request proof of ownership from those who are leasing properties. If a lessor refuses or cannot provide proof of ownership or agency authorization, it may be best to continue the house hunt.