New York is considered a landlord-friendly state since rental prices are usually higher, compared to other states. It's also considered a tenant-friendly state because there's a high rate of rent control clauses, so it's vital that landlords identify and analyze them for their lease agreement documents.
As a landlord, it's normal to feel overwhelmed by all the information that can go into lease agreement, leading to confusion and legal issues.
In this article, you're going to read more about landlord tenant laws in New York, how they work for specific cases and other important details that every landlord should know before leasing their properties.
Are lease agreements required in New York?
Lease agreements work to establish certain rules and regulations that both landlords and tenants should follow to have a good relationship throughout the lease term. According to New York's real property laws, these documents need to disclose important information, such as leasing requirements, landlord and tenant responsibilities and rights, and other legal details.
According to New York landlord-tenant law, a lease agreement should be drafted if the tenant is renting for more than 12 months. If the landlord plans to lease their property for less time, it's still suggested that they make a document to avoid legal issues.
Lease agreements can be provided written or orally. Most New York landlords however go with the written version, since it adds an extra layer of security.
NY landlord-tenant responsibilities and rights
Landlord-tenant laws can vary from state to state, but there are some general ground rules that New York landlords and tenants have to follow throughout the duration of a lease. Keep in mind that landlords may create their own rules for their specific property, as long as they don't go against the "Fair Housing Act" or the "New York State Division of Human Rights".
Landlord rights and responsibilities
When it comes to a lease, the landlord must ensure that the rental unit is habitable and in good condition. If the unit is inhabitable and the tenant does not pay rent, the landlord normally can not evict them because they need to provide habitable living conditions.
Additionally, the landlord has to respond to every repair notice the tenant sends, assuming it's a legitimate request. If the landlord fails to repair the issue, the tenant may choose to withhold rent, exercise their "Repair and Deduct" rights, or seek legal advice. If they exercise their repair and deduct rights, they can repair the issue on their own, and deduct the costs from their future rent payments. As a landlord, you may be tempted to fight this, but the courts generally side with the tenant if they had a reasonable repair that you should have fixed.
In general, here are the following things that every landlord must provide:
- Good plumbing conditions.
- Electrical outlets in good condition.
- Protection against bugs, vermin, and mold (exterminator, etc...)
- Secure windows and doors.
- Cold water (applicable for multiple dwelling units).
- Hot water (with a minimum temperature of 120 degrees. Applicable for multiple dwelling units).
Likewise, landlords may have the right to deduct damages from the security deposit, enter the rental property in emergency situations, and more. Some cities, such as New York City, have their own specific laws and regulations, so it's important that landlords check their local regulations.
Tenant rights and responsibilities
Overall, tenants in New York are responsible for:
- Paying rent on time
- Keeping the unit in good condition
- Keeping the property clean on the inside and outside
- Maintaining the unit (like changing their AC filter)
- Keeping the utilities in good working condition
- Not disturbing their neighbors (no noise complaints for example)
On the other hand, tenants may exercise their housing rights at any moment they consider appropriate. This includes the right to live in a habitable unit, tenant protection against discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc...
Rent payment laws
If the leased property does not qualify for the "Rent Stabilization" program, a New York landlord may charge any amount they consider appropriate for rent. This amount has to be agreed upon by all parties before leasing the unit.
Landlords are required to maintain their unit in a high safety standard for their tenants; if they fail to do this, the tenant may choose to withhold rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs. To avoid this, landlords must provide repairs and maintenance at a reasonable time.
New York state rent laws don't require landlords to give notice before raising rent prices. However, some landlords may choose to send a notice before doing this or add an annual increase in their lease agreement so there are no arguments each year on the renewal.
Rent-stabilized cities, such as New York City, have strict price control policies, limiting the amount of rent that a landlord can charge their tenants and providing some regulations for eviction proceedings. These rent control measures apply for multiple units built before 1947.
While these rent control measures are mostly seen in New York City, they're also in effect in some counties such as Westchester, Nassau, Albany, etc.
In the case of late rent, a landlord may choose to charge a late fee. Keep in mind that there are no regulations on what amount landlords can charge, but it should always be reasonable.
There is no specified grace period for late payments in the New York State. However, most landlords provide a 10-day grace period before declaring the tenant in default. The default state refers to a tenant who failed to pay rent after the grace period. This is normally when they can start sending their first eviction notice and begin the eviction process.
Security deposit laws
According to New York state landlord-tenant laws, landlords are not required to ask for security deposits. However, most landlords ask for them as a safety measure in case the unit gets damaged.
A security deposit must be equal to one months rent, and landlords are not required to provide a receipt, but most do it for better organization.
Tenants have the legal right to collect their security deposit from their landlord when they vacate the premises. According to New York landlord-tenant laws, a security deposit must be returned within 14 days from when their lease ends and they leave the property.
In case the landlord decides only to return part of the security deposit, they must give the tenant an itemized list of all the damages that need to be repaired and how the security deposits are going to be used. If they refuse to do so, the tenant may seek legal advice.
Early lease termination & eviction laws
According to New York landlord-tenant law, the landlord may send the tenant an eviction notice for the following reasons:
- Criminal Activity
- Lease Agreement Breach
- Late Fees or Nonpayment of Rent
In most cases, tenants need to receive 30 days' notice before getting evicted. While 30 days is the most common scenario, some tenants may get a 60 or 90-day notice, depending on how long they rented the unit for (usually it's 60 days if they rented for more than 1 year).
Alternatively, tenants can terminate or renew a lease when the term finishes, as long as there is a renewal option in their agreement. In the case of monthly leases, the tenant must give a 30-day notice. For most cases, however, the landlord must agree to the lease renewal.
In the case of early termination, tenants may choose to terminate the lease before it expires for the following reasons:
- Active military service.
- Poor housing conditions.
- Domestic violence or harassment claims
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for New York.
Lease agreement disclosures
Security deposit location
According to the "General Obligations Law," landlords must state where they're storing the security deposit. It's important to note that a landlord in New York may not mix the security deposit with other personal funds.
New York state law requires landlords to disclose any information regarding lead concentration areas if their unit was built between 1960 and 1978. Read more about lead hazards.
Landlords must give details of all the parties involved in the rental agreement. This usually includes contact information and addresses.
Both the Fair Housing Act and the New York State Division of Human Rights protect tenants from discriminatory behavior against them. This includes protection for tenants regardless of their race, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc.
Both landlords and tenants must ensure that they have a healthy relationship throughout the lease to prevent legal disputes. The best way to achieve this is by making sure that the lease arrangement is compliant with the Fair Housing Law, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and general tenant-landlord law in the New York state.
If you need any more information, speak with a local real estate property manager or attorney to learn more about housing and rental laws in your area, or visit the resources below.
Are tenants allowed to change the locks on the property in New York?
New York laws don't state if a tenant is allowed to request a lock change, but in most cases, a landlord can change the locks if the tenant suffered from harassment or domestic violence.
Landlords cannot lock a tenant out as a way of retaliation since it's illegal.
What is the limit of a small claims court in New York?
A small claims court of law in New York can hear rent or security deposit disputes valued at up to $3,000 or $5,000, depending on where the lawsuit was filed. Keep in mind that a small claims court of law doesn't handle eviction cases.
Does the landlord have the right to enter the property in New York?
The New York state law doesn't disclose any regulations or limits as to when a landlord can enter their leased unit. In theory, landlords can legally enter at any time they want without any notice. However, landlords and tenants usually create a unique "notification" clause where they disclose the conditions in which the tenant can let the landlord inside the unit. These notifications are typically sent by certified mail since it's the most secure and tracked option should a dispute arise.
These clauses don't include emergencies, in which landlords can enter the unit without any notice.
How do the rules of retaliation work in New York?
A New York court of law can assume that the landlord is engaging in retaliation if any negative action against the tenants is taken within six months after filing a complaint, like an eviction.