August 23, 2010
STATE BAR ASSOCIATION NEW RADIO CAMPAIGN EDUCATES NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS ON TENANT RIGHTS
Radio Ads in English and Spanish to Run Through Oct. 17 Help Guard Against Possible Blacklisting by Landlords
ALBANY- The New York State Bar Association today unveiled a new radio campaign to educate New York City residents about their rights in New York City Housing Courts. The ads have a dual purpose: to alert New Yorkers that landlords have access to Housing Court records, which can then be used to screen prospective tenants, and to inform tenants of their rights regarding the use of that material.
Recorded by State Bar President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP) - in both English and Spanish - the ads continue a long tradition of educating the public on legal issues that can impact their daily lives.
In the ad, President Younger warns, "Getting a rental apartment in New York City can be tough. Did you know that information about cases you have had in housing court is publicly available? Did you know that landlords can use this against you when you're trying to rent an apartment? This is true even if you were brought into court through no fault of your own. If you have had trouble renting an apartment because of a past housing court case, you might be able to correct errors in your record. Also, under the Tenant Fair Chance Act, landlords must tell you if they are using a tenant screening company and which company they are using. For more information, please call 212-962-4795. Or visit www.housingcourtanswers.org. You can also find helpful tips and resources by accessing the "For the Community" page of the State Bar's website, located at www.nysba.org."
Younger explained, "This radio campaign is designed to educate New Yorkers that landlords have access to certain Housing Court information that can have a real and sometimes unfair impact on a person's ability to get an affordable apartment. We want tenants to know that there are limits on how and when that information is used. The campaign also shows the public how to access helpful resources through the State Bar as well as other legal aid organizations."
In addition to the radio spots, the State Bar also launched a new education program through The People's Law School initiative titled "Tenant Blacklisting in New York City," produced by the Association. The 75-minute seminar - available online - gives an overview of the rights, obligations and remedies of landlords and tenants when landlords acquire and use tenant screening reports to make rental decisions. The program can be viewed at: www.nysba.org/tenantblacklistinginNYC.
The NCSA (Non-Commercial Sustaining Announcements) spots were produced and distributed in coordination with the New York Market Radio Association as part of a broader initiative to educate lawyers and the public about tenant rights. The spots will run from August 23rd through October 17th. It is anticipated that the spots will air several thousand times on New York City radio stations during the eight-week campaign.
The full 30- and 60-second spots, in English and Spanish can be accessed below:
The education initiative stems from a $1.2 million settlement approved last year in a 2004 case, White v. First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. (04 CV 01611). The case's class action alleged that the defendant company issued thousands of tenant screening reports to prospective landlords that violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York Deceptive Practices Act by failing to accurately, completely and clearly disclose information about Housing Court cases brought against New York City tenants. Part of the settlement of the case is funding tenant screening and awareness programs.
The settlement funds were distributed to The New York Bar Foundation, which in turn provides funding through its grant-making program for projects to be conducted by The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project and the New York State Bar Association.
Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more information, visit us at our website at www.nysba.org.