NEW YORK - If you're behind on rent, it could impact your credit score.
More New York City landlords are now reporting late payments to credit reporting agencies.
Despite this, Deborah Metts hasn't paid rent on her Harlem apartment in more than two years. She's holding out until repairs are made.
"Prior to the pandemic, we experienced pretty long bouts of loss of water, loss heat in the dead winter," Metts said.
This sparked a robust rent strike and caused residents to form a tenant association, but now that her landlord is reporting late rent payments to credit reporting agencies, some tenants are now paying up.
Metts is not one of them and her credit has taken a major hit.
"Think about two years' worth of rent and what that would cost you," Metts added. "That number is approximately what is being reported as debt owed."
Exterior view from apartment building in the Bronx New York.There are nearly 3.5 million renter-occupied households in New York state, of which 2.1 million are in New York City. Over half of renters in New York City spend more than 30 percent of thei
The letter sent to tenants reads in part:
"By making timely payments, you can see an increase in your credit score. Good credit is priceless! Now you can focus on reaching your goals like buying a home, a car, or getting approved for a credit card."
Mary McCune is a senior staff attorney at Manhattan Legal Services and represents the tenants at 137 W. 141st Street. She says the problem is that federal law says any entity can report late payments as long as it's done accurately, but New York State law says tenants have a right to withhold their rent.
"Credit reporting agencies work on a federal, national basis," McCune said. "They don't necessarily know local law, so we find this conflict where a tenant may be exercising their right to withhold their rent in order to get repairs and yet be reported for late payments."
Frank Ricci, executive vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, says it would not have gotten to this point if the government worked efficiently.
McCune also says there isn't really a legal solution for this, but they would like to see federal and state players come up with a way to address this problem so that tenants don't have to choose between getting repairs done or having their credit score tanked.
Fox 5 News also reached out to the landlord at Guardian Realty and has not heard back.