Landlords in NYC face $10K fines for leasing premises to illegal cannabis sellers

A new law in NYC is cracking down on landlords who lease space to illegal weed or tobacco sellers, imposing fines of up to $10,000 per violation. The City Council introduced the measure to address the growing presence of unlicensed smoke shops across the city. Under this law, commercial space owners can be fined under a two-strike system if they are found to be knowingly renting to unlicensed vendors. Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, who led the initiative, emphasized its focus on landlords: “Until now, measures at the state and local levels have targeted the actual businesses. My legislation targets the commercial landlords who knowingly rent to these illegal operations.”

The enforcement mechanism involves notification from the sheriff’s office to landlords if their premises are discovered to house unlicensed activities during raids. Follow-up inspections can result in initial fines of $5,000 if the illegal sellers persist. Steven Soutendjik from the Real Estate Board of New York supported the legislation, stating, “The commercial real estate community strongly condemns any property owner who knowingly leases any property for an illegal or illicit use.” Mayor Eric Adams estimated that around 1,500 illegal pot shops have emerged in the city since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2021, while there are only five licensed smoke shops currently operating. Councilwoman Schulman highlighted the multifaceted issues caused by these illegal shops, including public health risks, sales to minors, and the loss of tax revenue for essential programs and services: “They prevent licensed sellers … from opening legitimate businesses and they rob the city of much-needed tax revenue to pay for essential programs and services.”

End of: Landlords in NYC face $10K fines for leasing premises to illegal cannabis sellers