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NY Penal Law § 180.55: Rent gouging in the third degree

Under New York law it is illegal to ask a tenant or a potential tenant to pay you extra money as consideration for you to issue a lease or renew a lease. This practice is called rent gouging. Under New York Penal Law § 180.55 you could be charged with rent gouging in the third degree if in connection with renting property 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 or potential tenant will receive a lease or have a lease renewed, while failing to pay would decrease such chances.


Linda was the landlord of an apartment building. She had an apartment available for rent. Sally wanted to rent the apartment and was qualified to do so. Linda told Sally that an additional requirement for her application to be approved was a $150 cash contribution to the building's "special fund." When Sally pressed Linda to explain the purpose of the "special fund," Linda was evasive. Sally paid the $150 and signed a lease. Linda could be prosecuted for rent gouging in the third degree in violation of New York Penal Law § 180.55.

Related Offenses
  1. Rent gouging in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 180.56
  2. Rent gouging in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 180.57

In order for you to be guilty of rent gouging in the third degree, the prosecutor must be able to show that you solicited or accepted an extra payment from a tenant or potential tenant to increase the possibility that that person would receive a lease or a lease renewal. If the payment was for some other reason such as a pet deposit, for example, then you would not have committed rent gouging.


Rent gouging in the third degree is a Class B misdemeanor. This means that if you are convicted your sentence could include a jail term of up to 90 days, a probation term of 1 year, payment of restitution, and payment of a fine.

New York Penal Law § 180.55: Rent gouging in the third degree

A person is guilty of rent gouging in the third degree when, in connection with the leasing, rental or use of real property, he solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from a person some consideration of value, less than two hundred fifty dollars, in addition to lawful rental and other lawful charges, 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 the same.

New York Rent Gouging in the Third Degree Lawyer

If you have been charged with rent gouging in the third degree, it is important that you immediately contact someone with experience. Even though rent gouging in the third degree is a misdemeanor and not a felony, if you are convicted you could still end up in jail and be required to pay a fine. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who are accused of various types of crimes including both felonies and misdemeanors. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of rent gouging in the following locations:

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