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New York Landlord-Tenant Law

The Law Office of Anthony T. Ballato provides legal services to both New York tenants and landlords alike.

New York state, especially New York City, has a large number of renters. Wikipedia estimates about 64% of the state’s population lives in the New York City metropolitan area and 40% in New York City alone. Of that 40%, rental apartments account for 63% of New York City’s housing, or more than 2 million apartments.

New York has several landlord-tenant laws in place to protect landlords and renters. While cities and towns may have some of their own statutes around renters and landlords, the following are some of the state laws that apply to all New York tenants and landlords. Please note these are summaries of the laws and each law has its own nuances. Every renter and tenant situation must be looked at individually in the case of a legal proceeding.

Required Landlord Disclosures

Landlords are required by law to let tenants know of certain conditions of the property and the lease, usually before a tenant moves in. They include items such as when you get your security deposit back after moving out, whether the unit and building have had bed bugs in the past year, and what the rent control rules are for the area. Before signing any documents or paying any money for a rental unit, you can look up what disclosures are required at the state and local level and see that they are included in any legal documentation for the rental unit.

Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines

New York law limits the amount of money a landlord can collect as a security deposit to one month’s rent. The landlord must return the security deposit within 14 days of a tenant moving out. As you can imagine, certain conditions apply to how much of the deposit gets returned based on the condition of the apartment at move-out and what is outlined in the lease. The landlord can keep 1% of the deposit as an administrative fee per year but must pay any interest earned on the money back to the renter.

Tenants can sue landlords for the return of their security deposits in different courts, usually small claims courts, based on their location.

New York Rent Control and Other Rent Rules

New York laws cover rent control in several parts of the state, are complex and change frequently. Rent control rules usually are put in place to protect the renter but because of their changing nature it is best to call me directly for questions about rent control disputes.

A tenant’s lease should specify all the conditions of payment, such as where to send it, how much is owed, on what dates and what to do when rent due falls on a weekend or holiday. Generally, tenants have up to 14 days to pay rent or move out before a landlord can begin eviction proceedings, but the rules around eviction and overdue rent all have variations from building to building and area to area so legal advice based on your specific situation is advised.

Tenant Right to Withhold Rent

Under certain conditions and within certain timelines, tenants can either withhold rent or “repair and deduct” the cost of repairs from their rent if a landlord does not make necessary repairs to a major problem, such as if a heater stops working in the winter. There are rules about what is considered a major problem, what makes a rental unit uninhabitable, what notice a renter needs to give a landlord about the problem, and what steps for remediation a tenant and a landlord can take. Since every rental situation is different, it’s important to read the lease and contact an attorney if there’s any doubt about a situation and remedies for it.

Landlord Access to Rental Property, Tenant Protection Against Retaliation, and Other Landlord-Tenant Laws

If a tenant has exercised a legal right, such as formally lodging a complaint about an unsafe living condition, the tenant is legally protected from their landlord’s retaliation.

There also are special protections for renters who are victims of domestic violence. A landlord cannot evict a tenant because authorities were called to their location in response to domestic violence, and a tenant can get out of a lease early without penalties if they are afraid that by staying, they will be subject to more domestic violence. Again, every situation is different, and steps must be followed by the tenant and the landlord for a proper treatment of the situation.

Along the lines of discrimination, landlords cannot discriminate against potential renters by way of fair housing laws. Most of these laws are federal and state that tenants cannot be discriminated against because of their gender, race, marital status, religion, national origin, disability, and several other reasons. If you’re unsure that a situation is considered discrimination, call me at (516) 541-9080.

If you are a tenant or landlord in need of legal assistance in Massapequa, Nassau and Suffolk counties, Long Island, or New York, call me at (516) 541-9080. I will be happy to give you a consultation and from there we can decide if it makes sense to seek legal representation.