Monday, March 1, 2021

Maximum Rates Of Interest Allowed On Private Loans In New York: Updated

I recently read a great article on a recent federal court decision written by Kristen E. Andreoli, C. Jason Kim and Timothy E. Davis at White & Williams, LLP, concerning a clarified limitation of New York's usury laws. I encourage you to go read it. 

The article details a case before the Second Circuit concerning the rate of interest a commercial borrower can be charged once they default on a mortgage.  The part of the decision that caught my eye was that the Second Circuit held that New York State's usury limitations do not apply to defaulted obligations. 

The article also brought to mind a past posting I wrote in November of 2016 giving the basic understanding of New York's usury laws for non-attorneys: 

 New York business owners on the lookout for financing should know how much interest they can be charged on private loans made by persons or entities other than banking institutions or credit card companies.


Charging interest rates that exceed the state maximum allowed by law is called usury (also commonly referred to as "loansharking"), which is illegal. When it comes to determining at what rate a particular interest charge becomes actionable on a civil basis (where a borrower can object to the terms of the loan), and at what rate the charge may actually expose the lender to criminal liability, New York law can be a little complicated. Usury laws in New York, regulate the maximum interest rate a person or entity may be charged on a money loan. The applicable laws are the General Obligations Law and the Banking Law, which set civil law limits, and the NY Penal Law, which sets criminal law limits.


Under these laws, if a private loan exceeds the maximum "civil" usury rate, then the entire loan is considered void, and the lender may be denied the right to recover interest as well as principal. Additionally, the borrower may maintain an action for the return of interest payments previously made. If the loan exceeds the maximum "criminal" usury rate under New York law, then the lender may be prosecuted for committing a felony.


New York laws create a tiered system based upon the nature of the borrower and the size of the private loan:

For private loans made to individuals that do not exceed $250,000, the maximum annual "civil" interest rate is 16%.  The maximum "criminal" interest rate is 25%. 

For private loans made to individuals that are between $250,000 and $2.5 million, there is no maximum "civil" rate. There is a 25% maximum "criminal" rate. 

For private loans that exceed $2.5 million, there is no maximum "civil" or "criminal" interest rate. 

For private loans made to corporations that do not exceed $2.5 million, there is no maximum "civil" interest rate, but there is a 25% maximum "criminal" interest rate.  For loans that exceed $2.5 million, there is no maximum "civil" or "criminal" interest rate.  


States other than New York may have their own statutory and common-law rules and standards for usury. Therefore, we suggest that you obtain advice from a knowledgeable attorney in the event that a legal question arises concerning that the interest charges in a particular private loan transaction is usurious,

Obviously, this article was only meant to be a primer on the issue of New York's usury laws.  If you have specific questions about a loan arrangement you are involved in, I would be happy to consult with you on the matter. 

Gene Berardelli is a street-smart attorney with with over fifteen years of experience in civil and commercial litigation. Gene has achieved several career achievements, including successfully settling a seven-figure personal injury claim, successfully arguing before the New York State Appellate Division and successfully representing clients in trial litigation, mediations and arbitrations against such recognizable entities as the City of New York, New York City Transit Authority, JPMorgan Chase, TD Wealth Management Services, Inc., The Long Island Railroad, and Macy*s. Gene is also a noted New York Election Law expert who has had his opinions cited in scholarly works and published in news and feature articles.


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