New York Landlord Tenant Rights
If a lease exists (written or oral) or if a landlord has previously accepted payment as rent, a New York renter has certain rights under New York landlord tenant law.
Warranty of Habitability in New York
Landlord Responsibilities. New York State ("NYS") maintains a warranty of habitability which generally refers to three major requirements that all rental units operating in the state must abide by. Those requirements are as follows:
- Be fit for human habitation
- Be compliant with the “reasonable expectations” of the renter
- Be free of hazardous or dangerous conditions that may put a renter’s health or safety at risk
A Landlord may be found to be non-compliant with New York’s standards if any of the following amenities is not provided or maintained in proper repair:
- Adequate supply of running hot and cold water;
- Waterproofing on all walls, floors, and ceilings;
- Adequate internal heating (particularly from Oct. 1 to May 1);
- Operational plumbing;
- Safe electric outlets, lighting, and wiring;
- Bug and vermin abatement (as necessary);
- Mold abatement;
- Operable appliances (when provided);
- Sealed and operable gas lines;
- Proper sanitary facilities;
- Lockable windows and doors; &
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
NY landlords are required to provide repairs to any or all of these amenities upon their tenant’s request. However, NY’s current statutory code does not standardize a specific time frame in which the landlord must perform this kind of repair. As such, they are only required to act in a “reasonable” amount of time by default. Tenants looking to better standardize a responsive repair protocol must request it in their lease agreement.
Tenant Responsibilities. Tenants in NYS are required to upkeep certain responsibilities relating to the habitability of their unit. Including keeping the interior of their unit clean. Landlords are tasked with holding their tenants to account regarding this cleanliness standard.
If an infraction in this cleanliness standard is observed, a NYS landlord has the right to request that their tenant remedy the issue promptly. NYS tenants are generally required to make such requested repairs promptly or face the threat of eviction from their landlord. Under certain circumstances (such as a failure to provide or repair an essential amenity), NYS tenants are empowered through the state’s statutory code to take “alternative action” against their landlord. This includes repairing the issue on their own and deducting the associated costs from the next rent payment. NYS tenants can also withhold rent payments altogether when they believe that their landlord has inadequately met their legal or contractual responsibilities.
Evictions in New York.When it comes to evicting a tenant anywhere in NYS, landlords may use these following legal justifications:
1. Nonpayment of Rent. Tenants in NYS are required to pay rent on time, in accordance with the provisions set out in their lease (including any applicable grace period). If this fails to occur, NYS landlords are allowed to issue a 14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit to legally compel prompt payment. If all due rent payments are not provided by the end of the notice period, then the issuing landlord may begin formal eviction proceedings by filing a Petition to Recover Possessions.
2. Violation of Lease.When a lease violation of any kind (including the possession of a pet against written policies or a failure to maintain a safe/clean environment) is documented, a NYS landlord may issue a 10-Day Notice to Cure that includes details regarding how the tenant may resolve the issue. If those provisions are not met by the end of the notice period, the landlord may issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit to compel the negligent tenant to vacate the premises promptly.
3. Illegal Acts. NY state gives landlords full jurisdiction to decide what illegal actions do or not justify eviction from their rental units. While it is expected that an applicable lease agreement will enumerate these prohibited behaviors, NY landlords are not explicitly required to disclose every illegal action that may be used to justify eviction. Even in the absence of such a provision, New York tenants should expect to face eviction if they use their rented unit to facilitate any illegal action.
Evictions Without a Lease. Tenants in NY who rent from a landlord without utilizing a lease agreement are considered “at-will” with regards to their tenancy’s permeance. Even so, these tenants are still entitled to certain amounts of notice when their landlord intends to evict them (without cause, usually). These notice periods are based upon the length of their non-leased tenancy and are as follows:
- Month-to-month tenancy of 1 year – 30 days of advance notice;
- Month-to-month tenancy of 1 to 2 years – 60 days of advance notice;
- Month-to-month tenancy of 2 or more years – 90 days of advance notice.
Illegal Evictions. NY landlords are expressly prohibited from retaliating against their tenants, including by way of forced eviction. To that end, NY landlords may have their eviction efforts challenged if the affected tenant believes that an action that they took in the past 6 months (including the choice to act upon one of their protected tenant rights) is the true reason for their eviction.
Similarly, tenants in NY may not be evicted on discriminatory grounds. As such, any eviction effort that is explicitly or implicitly based around a tenant’s race, religion, sex, nation of origin, familial status, disability status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or military status may be voided by regulatory authorities.
Security Deposits in New York. Collecting, maintaining, and redistributing security deposits in New York comes with the following statutory requirements and guidelines:
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount. NY formerly imposed no limits upon how much a landlord operating in the state could charge as a security deposit. However, as a result of new legislation in 2019, New York now limits new security deposits to only 1 month’s rent in value. This does not explicitly include ancillary deposits, such as those made for the purposes of allowing a pet into the rented unit.
- Interest/Maintenance. Landlords in NY state who operate 6 or more buildings are required to deposit their collected security deposits into an interest-bearing account. 1% of any interest accrued from this account can be collected by the landlord on an annual basis. All remaining interest must be paid out to tenants on an annual basis. This payout may be applied to rent payments at the tenant’s request or held in full until the lease’s conclusion.
- Time Limit for Return. Landlords in NY state only have to return their tenant’s security deposits in a “reasonable” amount of time. However, legal precedent over time has caused the state to define “reasonable” as being 14 days when returning a security deposit is in question. When these funds are returned, they must be accompanied by an itemized list explaining any and all deductions made.
- Penalty for Late Return. Any NY landlord that fails to abide by the state’s mandate to promptly return a tenant’s security deposit may be forced to vacate all claims to the deposit as well as pay damages based upon the intent of the withholding.
- Allowable Deductions. NY landlords may apply their tenant’s security deposits to offset the cost of several common charges. This includes delayed or late rent payments from that tenant, as well as damages caused by that tenant’s actions or negligence.
Lease Termination in New York
Notice Requirements. Tenants in NYS who are currently signed into a fixed end-date lease need not inform their landlord in advance of their lease’s termination (unless it is occurring earlier than stated). However, tenants who rent on a month-to-month basis are required to provide written notice of their intent to terminate their lease 1 month in advance (30 days, for those living in NYC).
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. NY state tenants are regularly able to end their lease early by following the early termination provisions set forth in their lease agreement. However, when such a leasing provision is unavailable, these same tenants may be still be able to terminate their lease prematurely by evoking one of the following justifications:
- Active Military Duty;
- Unit is Uninhabitable Landlord Harassment;
- Domestic Violence and Stalking; or
- Senior Citizens and Serious Health Issues.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in New York
Rent Control / Increases. NY has implemented a statewide program for controlling rent prices.
Rent Related Fees. NYS landlords are allowed to charge certain types of rent-related fees. Though not exhaustive, this includes late rent payment fees (which are not capped for per instance or totaled value) and returned check fees (capped at $20 per instance, but only if such a charge is provided for in the applicable lease agreement). Landlords in New York may also charge application fees, but they must be reasonable and not discriminatorily differentiated.
Housing Discrimination in New York
Federal Protection. The Fair Housing Act ("FHA") protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protection. NYS protects several additional classes of tenants under its fair housing legislation. In addition to those classes protected under the federal Fair Housing Act, these protected class traits and characteristics include:
- Marital status;
- Military status;
- Sexual orientation; &
- Gender identity.
Discrimination Penalties. NYS Division of Human Rights administers the state’s several major civil rights laws, including those relating to fair housing practices. Though not an exhaustive list of actions that could potentially result in sanctioning, these following business practices are specifically prohibited by New York state when they are directed towards one of the state’s several protected classes:
- Refusing to rent, sell, or lease housing;
- Applying or instituting different leasing conditions, terms, or privileges;
- Advertising direct or indirect limitations or preferences for prospective tenants;
- Using an application that directly or indirectly implies a limitation or preference for certain prospective tenants;
- Providing different treatment to tenants that utilize a service animal or emotional support animal;
- Retaliating against individuals who file complaints or testify against their landlord;
- Misrepresenting the availability of housing; &
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in New York
Landlord Entry. New York’s current landlord tenant laws do not statutorily define limits on a landlord’s right to entry. As such, they are allowed by default to enter any renter unit without permission or advanced notice of their intent.However, the majority of proper lease agreements define some amount of notice required before a landlord can enter while also outlining what reason may justify a landlord entering (such as to perform a repair or to show the unit to a prospective renter). New York state does provide some guidance on this front, though, and recommends all landlords include a provision requiring at least 24 hours of advance notice.
New York also does not maintain a statute relating to emergency entry on the part of a landlord. However, it is generally assumed that a landlord may enter without permission or notice, regardless of applicable leasing terms, when an emergency threatens the health or safety of the unit’s inhabitants.
Mandatory Disclosures. Landlords in New York state must make a variety of informational disclosures to their tenants at the commencement of their tenancy. These mandatory disclosures include the following, but do not include disclosures that are only mandated within the jurisdiction of New York City:
- Lead-based paint.
- Managers and Agents.
- Security Deposit Maintenance.
- Licensee Relationships.
For any questions or assistance, please contact the Civil Trial Attorneys at Fazzio Law, we are in your corner!
Category: Landlord Tenant Law
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