Effective September 26, 2016, a new law entitled “Nonresidential Tenant Harassment” became effective. This law protects tenants who can prove their Landlord’s offensive act or omission (including improper use of force, repeated service interruptions, commencement of frivolous court proceedings, and access obstructions) was intended to cause the tenant to vacate their premises or to waive any rights provided by their lease or under law.
It provides tenants with remedies including injunctive and equitable relief, compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs in addition to imposing a mandatory civil penalty of between $1000 and $10,000.
The law provides specific exclusions, such as the landlord having exercised its rights to lawfully terminate a tenancy and defenses such as the landlord having had no intention to cause a tenant to vacate its space or waive its rights. In any event, no landlord will want to be on the defensive end of such a claim and should consult with counsel to ensure not to run afoul of the new law.