April 16, 2024

New York Landlord Tenant Laws and Rights

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New York landlord-tenant laws protect each party's rights, ensuring that no one gets disadvantaged. While navigating these laws can be difficult, landlords and tenants only need a basic understanding of their rights and obligations.

This article presents a simplified version of New York state laws to help you appreciate the landlord-tenant relationship better. Make a wise investment in the future of your rental property by acquiring New York rental property insurance. Keep reading for more information.

Is New York a Landlord-Friendly State?

Many people consider New York a landlord-friendly state due to comparably high rental prices. However, it is also a tenant-friendly state because of its many rent control laws. Both landlords and tenants must carefully study these laws before inking lease agreement documents.

Type of Lease Agreements Used in New York

New York landlords and tenants may enter rental agreements orally or in writing. Oral agreements might lack specific provisions concerning the relationship between landlords and tenants but still confer rights and responsibilities on the two parties.

According to New York landlord-tenant laws, a written lease or rental agreement lays down provisions that define the relationship between the landlord and tenant.

These documents must disclose the leasing requirements, the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, etc.

New York landlord-tenant law prescribes a lease agreement for a tenancy that lasts at least 20 months. Where the lease lasts for a shorter time, the parties should sign lease agreement documents to avoid possible legal issues.

Rent Regulation Laws in New York

Rent control laws in New York State are not necessarily applicable statewide. As such, the applicable rules in New York City differ from those in the rest of the state.

Despite these differences, the rent control rules are based on New York State law and fall in the rent control or rent stabilization categories.

Rent Control Laws in New York

According to the New York landlord-tenant law, rent control means limiting the amount a landlord can charge in rent.

New York landlords are also restricted when it comes to evicting tenants. Rent control protects tenants to a lesser extent.

Since it is a statewide initiative, rent control falls under New York State law. The state legislature sets its rules and regulations. A special type of rent-regulated apartment falls under these laws.

Rent-Controlled Apartments

Most rent-controlled buildings in New York were built before 1947. However, rent control measures apply to tenants who have lived in the rental property since 1971. Landlords are restricted from raising the raise rent by 7.5% every two years.

New York tenants can pass their rent-controlled apartments to family members upon death. The family members will enjoy the same rights if they live in the same rental unit at the time of death.

Rent-Stabilized Apartments

New York’s rent-stabilized apartments are those built before 1974 and have over six units. However, new property owners can impose rent stabilization and enjoy some tax benefits.

Rent stabilization works differently depending on the location within the state. For example, in New York City, the Rent Guidelines Board determine rental prices for these apartments.

New York landlord-tenant laws restrict landlords from raising rent by more than 4.5% annually. Besides, a tenant in a rent-stabilized apartment enjoys the following rights:

  • The right to particular services
  • The right to renew leases
  • Protection from eviction unless meeting an exception of the law

A tenant in a rent-stabilized apartment can lodge their complaints through the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Landlords may suffer legal sanctions and be forced to reduce rent.

Rent Regulation in General

Rent stabilization is the main rent regulation provision in New York. Unlike before 2019, when New York landlords could change an apartment from being rent-stabilized to a condo when a tenant moved out, current landlord-tenant laws impose restrictions. New York landlord-tenant laws also restrict landlords from arbitrarily increasing rent in formerly rent-stabilized housing units.

Rental Application and Tenant Screening Laws in New York

Application Fee

There is no application fee for tenants in New York. However, New York landlord-tenant laws allow landlords to charge a fee for a tenant screening report.

The fee can be $20 or what it actually costs for the checks, whichever is higher. After collecting the fee, New York landlords must provide the tenant a copy of the report.

Asking About a Tenant’s Criminal History

A New York landlord may or may not ask about a prospective tenant’s criminal history. In some cities or counties, the local housing laws prohibit including the criminal record in the background checks.

But that doesn’t mean that landlords should be less careful. They can still check a rental applicant’s criminal record without being discriminatory.

Thus, landlords may not ask only people of a given race for their criminal record. Also, New York landlord-tenant laws do not allow landlords to deny rental units based on a criminal record that has no direct bearing on their business.

New York Security Deposit Laws

New York tenants may not ask for security deposits from tenants in rent-stabilized rental units. For apartments that don’t fall in this category, there is a security deposit.

Maximum Security Deposit

In cases where New York landlords are allowed to charge a security deposit, the maximum amount cannot be more than one month’s rent.

Interest on Security Deposits

New York State laws require landlords to return tenants’ security deposits when the lease ends. However, the interest on a security deposit paid to a New York tenant is less than a 1% administration fee.

Where to Keep a Security Deposit

New York landlords with rental property with over six units must keep a tenant’s security deposit in a New York bank account with a market interest rate. On refund of the security deposit, the tenant will keep all the interest minus the 1% administrative fee.

Cleaning or Pet Fees

The current New York landlord-tenant law restricts landlords to collecting a maximum of the monthly rent in security deposit and other fees. Therefore, if they want cleaning or pet fees, they must keep it within these limits.

Returning security Deposits

Once a New York tenant moves out of the rental property, the landlord must provide a list of itemized security deposit deductions within two weeks. New York landlord-tenant laws also require landlords to return the deposit within 14 days. If that isn’t done, the landlord must return the entire security deposit.

If a tenant requests an inspection of the building and fixes any issues before moving out, the landlord must refund the whole security deposit.

Required Landlord Disclosures in New York

1. Location of the Security Deposit

New York landlords must keep the security deposit separate from other funds. Then, the landlord must state the location of the security deposit, mostly a New York bank account.

2. Lead-Based Paint

Besides the location of the security deposit, New York landlords must disclose information about lead concentration areas for units built between 1960 and 1978. The tenant can then choose whether or not to occupy the rental property.

3. Authorized Parties

The New York landlord-tenant law requires the landlord to disclose details of parties to the rental agreement. It could be the property owner's name and the managers' addresses.

New York Rent Payment Rules

Late Fees

A New York landlord may charge late fees if rent remains unpaid within five days since it fell due. Rental laws in New York fix the late fee at 5% of the monthly rent or $50, whichever is less.

Raising Rent in New York

New York landlords operate under legal regulated rent under rent stabilization and rent control laws. However, these laws aren’t applicable the same way across the state. Thus, they are different in New York City than elsewhere.

For long-term leases, a landlord can only raise rent if it is expressly part of the rental agreement. If a tenant has been in a leased premises for over one year, the landlord must issue a 30-day notice to raise the rent by at least 5%.

For a tenancy lasting one to two years, the notice period is 60 days. However, for two or more years, the notice is 90 days.

Can a New York Tenant Withhold Rent?

Should a New York tenant without rent? Why would a New York tenant withhold rent? For how long can a New York tenant withhold rent?

Under New York landlord-tenant laws, a tenant has the right to withhold rent when the rental property isn’t fully habitable.

They can withhold rent partially or fully based on the applicable New York landlord-tenant law. For example, the law in New York City could differ with that elsewhere.

Provisions for Repair-and-Deduct Situations

As part of the rental agreement, a New York tenant can repair the rental unit and deduct the costs from the rent.

However, New York state law doesn’t allow tenants to deduct rent without first informing the landlord of the issue and giving adequate time to have it rectified.

If rental property is in severe disrepair and cannot be fixed, a court would grant the tenant severe eviction, which means they can quit the unit without paying rent.

The Eviction Process in New York

According to the landlord-tenant laws in New York, the landlord has the right to terminate a lease and obtain legal possession of the property. Reasons for that may include when rent payment falls back and the tenant violates at least one lease provision.

How to Initiate the Eviction Process

A landlord notice starts off the eviction process in New York City and elsewhere. The following are the notice types a landlord may issue:

  • 14-day notice to pay rent or quit
  • 10-day notice to cure a lease violation for rent regulation cases
  • 30-day notice to quit for unmet cures

Ending a Month-to-Month Tenancy in New York

For a month-to-month tenancy, the eviction process also involves issuing a notice. The notice priod varies as follows:

  • 30-day notice for a tenancy of over one year
  • 60-day notice for a tenancy of one to two years
  • 90-day notice for a tenancy of over two years

Small Claims Lawsuits in New York

There is a limit in a Small Claims Court in New York. Outside New York City, Suffolk County, and Nassau County, you can sue for up to $3,000 in village and town courts and $5,000 in city courts.

In Nassau County and Suffolk County, you can sue to up to $5,000. However, in New York, you can sue for up to $10,000.

Do New York Landlord-Tenant Laws Mandate Insurance?

No, New York landlord-tenant laws do not mandate landlords or tenants to take insurance. However, having landlord insurance isn’t a bad idea. You can get compensation for property damage due to fire, rain, floods, etc.

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