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NYC security deposits unfairly burden low-income New Yorkers: report

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Comptroller Scott Stringer is calling for limits on security deposits, which he says unfairly burden low-income families

116th Street Affordable Housing

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is calling on the state to impose limits on security deposits, which he says unfairly burdens low-income New Yorkers. The Comptroller’s office has put out a new report that shows that New Yorkers sunk $507 million in security deposits in 2016, and is calling on the state to implement changes so that the process of moving becomes less burdensome and costly.

Stringer’s analysis found that there are at least 15 neighborhoods across the city where families would have to pay 10 percent of their annual income to afford the first month’s rent and the security deposit. In neighborhoods like East Harlem, the Lower East Side, and Chinatown, that number jumps up to 15 percent of the annual income. The steep security deposits leaves New Yorkers with minimal savings and an inability to pay for new apartments due to escalating rents, Stringer’s analysis found.

“Every day, New Yorkers are working harder and saving less – and right now, huge portions of their annual incomes are being held hostage in security deposits,” said Stringer, in a statement. “These may just be considered the costs of being a renter in New York, but it’s not right and it’s not necessary.”

Stringer has presented several workarounds to the existing problem. He says that the state should impose a one-month cap on security deposits so tenants don’t have to pay more than one month’s rent for a one-year lease. He also proposed alternatives like paying security deposits in installments added to the monthly rent instead of an upfront payment or paying a monthly insurance fee in lieu of the deposit, which the tenants wouldn’t get back, but at least it would be a small amount like $10/month. He is also calling for security deposits to be held by third-party custodians to ensure that tenants receive their deposits when they leave.

To check out the full report, head on over to Stringer’s website.