New York Penal Law § 180.57: Rent gouging in the first degree

In New York it is against the law to require someone to pay an amount in addition to the set rent as consideration for the understanding that by doing so the person's chances for leasing a property or having a lease renewed would increase. This practice is referred to as rent gouging. Under New York Penal Law § 180.57 you could be charged with rent gouging in the first degree if in connection with renting property where the rent is regulated by federal, state, or local law you participate in a scheme in which on at least 3 occasions you solicit, accept, or agree to accept payment in addition to the set rent with the understanding such additional payment would boost the possibility that the tenant will receive a lease or have a lease renewed, while failing to pay would decrease such chances.

Example

William Koeppel was the owner and manager of several rent stabilized apartment buildings in Manhattan. Three of Koeppel's tenants and 2 real estate brokers stated that Koeppel told them that he would only lease a particular apartment to them if they would make a $1000-$3000 donation to Republican political campaigns. Based on this evidence Koeppel was charged with rent gouging in the first degree. People v. Koeppel, 646 N.Y.S.2d 1007 (N.Y.Sup., 1995)

Related Offenses
  1. Rent gouging in the third degree: New York Penal Law § 180.55
  2. Rent gouging in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 180.56
Defenses

In order for you to be found guilty of rent gouging in the first degree, the prosecutor must have able to show that on at least 3 occasions you solicited or accepted extra payment from a tenant or potential tenant to increase the possibility that they would receive a lease or a lease renewal. If the payments were made for another, legal reason then you would not have committed rent gouging.

Sentence

Rent gouging in the first degree is a class E felony. This means that if you are convicted of rent gouging in the first degree your sentence could include a prison term of up to 4 years, a probation term of up to 5 years, payment of restitution, and payment of a substantial fine.

New York Penal Law § 180.57: Rent gouging in the first degree

A person is guilty of rent gouging in the first degree when, in the course of a scheme constituting a systematic ongoing course of conduct in connection with the leasing, rental or use of three or more apartment units, the rental price of which is regulated pursuant to the provisions of federal, state or local law, he solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from one or more persons in three separate transactions some consideration of value, knowing that such consideration is in addition to lawful rental and other lawful charges established pursuant to the provisions of such federal, state or local law, and upon an agreement or understanding that the furnishing of such consideration will increase the possibility that any person may obtain or renew the lease, rental or use of such property, or that a failure to furnish it will decrease the possibility that any person may obtain or renew same, and thereby obtains such consideration from one or more persons.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are under investigation for rent gouging in the first degree, it is important that you have experienced representation. Rent gouging is a serious charge that could result in you spending time in prison as well as facing substantial financial penalties. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies such as rent gouging, assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, and child endangerment. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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