Got a dispute with your landlord? Is it so bad you’re thinking of going to Housing Court? Well, we’d wear a fake mustache there and perhaps spoonerize your name, because it turns out that your future landlords not only can find out if you’ve been to Housing Court before, but if you have been, they put you on a tenant “blacklist” and either won’t rent to you or will make you jump through hoops just to rent. And how do they find this out? Why, the Housing Court sells them case data. Democracy in action!
WNYC has the story, in which the Housing Court does pretty much the last thing you’d want an avenue of last resort for tenants to do. It was worse before, because Housing Court would just straight up sell the names of people who’d been to Housing Court. Now they only sell the index numbers of court cases, but landlords have gotten around that by just hiring companies to sift through the cases and match index numbers to tenants’ names. If you’re on the blacklist, you can end up not being approved for apartments even with good credit and income. Or if you do get the apartment, you can wind up having to pay double the security deposit, as one tenant did.
If you listen to the report that goes along with the story, and you should, you’ll find that it isn’t just landlords trying to avoid what they deem deadbeat renters and renters who hop from lawsuit to lawsuit. They put anyone who’s been to housing court, in the right or not, on the blacklist. They don’t even care to rent to people who know Housing Court exists and that you have the right to go, so even changing the lists to include information that shows you sued because you were in the right wouldn’t be helpful.
A spokesman for the Housing Court claimed told WNYC that this is just a way for the Housing Court to make a little extra money, and hey, sounds like they could use it.