The Landlord-Tenant Environment in New York

There are currently an estimated 19,889,657 residents in New York. New York City, with an estimated population of 8.5 million, comprises a little less than half the state’s entire population. Generally, the landlord-tenant laws are landlord-friendly in both the state of New York and New York City.

In this guide, we’ll go through New York landlord-tenant law. For New York City landlords, we included specific New York City laws at the end of the guide. Please be aware that city laws may be more extensive than state laws, and landlords are required to follow both local and state laws.

Security Deposit Laws in New York

Is a security deposit required under New York law?

The landlord is not required to collect a security deposit from the tenant. However, the results of our survey of New York landlords revealed that the majority of them collect a security deposit from prospective tenants. Moreover, the majority responded that they collect a deposit equal to the monthly rent price.

New York Landlord-Tenant Law

Receipts of security deposit are not required under New York law, however, they are highly encouraged for accurate bookkeeping.

When must a landlord return the deposit by in New York?

In New York, the landlord is required to return either part or all of the security deposit to the tenant, within a reasonable time after the tenant has vacated the premises. New York courts have construed a “reasonable time” to be within 21-45 days after the tenant leaves.

Which situations allow a landlord to withhold a security deposit in New York?

While the landlord is typically required to return the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord may withhold all or a portion of a tenant’s security deposit for damage in excess of normal wear and tear or to cover unpaid rent. The landlord may also withhold all or part of the security deposit for additional breaches of the lease agreement.

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in New York?

For rental properties with six or more units, landlords must place tenants’ security deposits in an interest-bearing account. The account must earn interest at a rate that is equivalent to the interest rate for similar deposits in the same geographic area. Tenants are entitled to the majority of the interest that their security deposit earns during tenancy, yet, a landlord may collect a 1% administration fee for handling the deposit.

On the other hand, the landlord is not required to place a tenant’s security deposit in an interest-bearing account if the property has fewer than six units. 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in New York?

Security deposits in New York must not be commingled with any personal assets of the landlord and the landlord must not attempt to use the money from the security deposit as if it is his or her own. The security deposit must be stored at a banking institution within the state of New York.

Rental Agreement Laws in New York

Are rental agreements required in New York?

Rental agreements are required for tenancies that are 12 months or longer in New York. Even though lease terms that are less than 12 months are not required to be in writing , we highly encourage written rental agreements, so landlords and tenants have a document to refer to with rules. According to our survey of New York landlords, the majority of them indicated they require their tenants to sign a rental agreement.

Finally, in the state of New York, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a copy of the rental agreement 30 days after the agreement has been finalized.

Get started now by creating a New York Rental Lease with Rentalutions. Our attorney-approved New York rental agreement includes all the necessary notices and disclosures based on your property’s address. It’s never been easier to create, modify, and sign a rental agreement. Check out our Complete Guide to Rental Leases.

What are the general lease provisions in New York?

Generally, both the owner and lessee are required to include their name on the rental agreement, the conditions of occupancy, the description of the leased premises, the term of the lease, a clear description of the rental space, who is liable for utility expenses, the amount of rent, the date rent is due, penalties for late rent payments, if any, landlord’s responsibilities, tenant’s responsibilities, provisions regarding painting, and whether pets are allowed.

Even though late fees are not a legal requirement according to the law of New York, we do recommend including a late fee rule. Furthermore, tenants living in the rental unit must be at least 18 years old.

The following lease provisions are not allowed in New York:

  • Exempting landlords from liability for injuries to persons or property caused by the landlord’s negligence, or that of the landlord’s employees or agents
  • Waiving the tenant’s right to a jury trial in any lawsuit brought by either of the parties against the other for personal injury or property damage
  • Requiring tenants to pledge their household furniture as security for rent

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in New York?

A month-to-month tenancy in New York may be terminated by either party by giving at least one month’s notice before the expiration of the tenancy. On the other hand, because a fixed lease term expires at the end of the term, no notice is needed.

Are there any specific required lease renewal provisions in New York?

The requirement of a lease renewal provision in the rental agreement depends on whether the premises is rent stabilized. Rent stabilization applies to apartments in buildings of six or more units constructed before 1974.

Rent stabilization means the landlord can only increase your rent by a certain percentage every year, as determined by the Rent Guidelines Board in New York. Tenants in rent stabilized apartments are entitled to lease renewals on the same terms and conditions as the original lease.

For non-rent regulated apartments, the landlord must agree to renew the lease.

Are there circumstances where the tenant can legally break the terms of the lease early in New York?

According to the laws of New York, there are certain situations where the tenant can legally break the terms of the lease. Those situations include:

  • The tenant is a victim of domestic violence.
  • The tenant is 62 years of age or older and can no longer live independently, and must move to a nursing home or other senior citizen housing.
  • The tenant enters active military service after signing a lease.
  • The landlord does not provide habitable housing under local and state housing codes.
  • The landlord violates the tenant’s privacy rights or harasses the tenant.

Rental Payment Laws in New York

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What are the rules and regulations regarding rent payment in New York?

In New York, when an apartment is not subject rent stabilization, the landlord is free to charge any rent agreed upon by the landlord and tenant.

The landlord shall not require the tenant to use an electronic payment system as the only method for rent payment.

Are tenants allowed to withhold rent under New York law? If so, for what purposes?

New York tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards. If a landlord fails to take care of important maintenance, such as a leaky roof or a broken heater, or the premises does not meet basic structural, health, and safety standards, the tenant may withhold rent until repairs are made.

Are landlords required to provide rent receipts?

New York landlords must provide tenants with written rent receipts. The only exception is if the tenant pays rent via personal check, then the landlord is not required to provide a receipt (unless the tenant requests a receipt).

The receipt must state the payment date, the amount, the period for which the rent was paid, and the apartment number. The receipt must be signed by the person receiving the payment and state his or her title.

Are there any provisions regarding rent control in New York?

There are two forms of rent regulation in New York: rent control and rent stabilization.

Rent control allows the landlord to charge a specific amount for rent. The goal of rent control is to act as a price ceiling, in essence preventing landlords from charging rent above that specified amount. The rent control program in New York applies to residential buildings built before February 1947. Rent control is still in effect in New York City and parts of Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Westchester counties. In order for an apartment to be under rent control, the tenant or the tenant’s lawful successor (such as a family member, spouse, or adult lifetime partner) must have been living there continuously since before July 1, 1971.

When a rent controlled apartment is vacated in New York City or most other localities, it becomes rent stabilized or completely removed from regulation. Rent-stabilized apartments apply to buildings that were constructed before 1974 and have more than six units. The perks of rent-stabilized apartments include limits on how much your landlord can increase your rent each year and a guaranteed right to renew your lease.

Late Fees and Grace Period Laws in New York

Is there a legal requirement for late fees in New York?

In New York, there is no legal requirement for late fees. However, most landlords charge late fees, either based on a fixed dollar amount, fixed percentage, or some combination of the two. The late fee should be reasonable under the circumstances.

Does New York have a law regarding grace periods?

There is no mandated grace period in New York.

If the tenant fails to pay rent at least 10 days after rent is due, the landlord may declare the tenant in default (which is when the tenant has failed to pay rent after both the due date and grace period has elapsed) under the lease agreement, or accept the rent and the appropriate late fee.

New York Laws on Repairs: Tenant’s Right, Landlord’s Duty

New York tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards. There is an implied warranty of habitability in every written and oral residential lease in New York, which means the landlord must keep the property in good repair.  

Landlords of multiple dwellings must keep the apartments and the building’s public areas in good repair, clean, and free of vermin, garbage or other offensive material. Landlords are required to maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and ventilating systems. And appliances that landlords install, such as refrigerators and stoves, must be in good and safe working order.

In New York, there is no required notice the tenant must provide to the landlord regarding the landlord’s duty to repair. However, once notified, the landlord must make the repair within a reasonable time period. A reasonable time period depends on the severity of the repairs. If the landlord fails to remedy the situation, the tenant has the right to repair or deduct from the monthly rent.

New York Laws on Eviction

What are the New York laws on eviction?

A tenant with a lease is protected from eviction during the lease period so long as the tenant does not violate any substantial provision of the lease or any local housing laws or codes. For both regulated and unregulated apartments, landlords must give formal notice of their intention to obtain legal possession of the apartment. Adequate notice must be “reasonable under the circumstances.” Unless the tenant vacates the premises by a specified date, the landlord may start eviction proceedings.

If the tenant violates the lease, the landlord must provide the tenant a ten-day notice that allows the tenant to fix the violation. If the tenant corrects the violation within the ten-day frame, the landlord cannot file an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant does not fix the violation within the ten-day period, the landlord must provide the tenant a notice of termination. The notice of termination must state that the tenant has at least 30 days to move out of the rental unit.

Once the landlord begins eviction proceedings, the tenant may raise a number of defenses:

  • Landlord evicts tenant through self-help (landlord’s conduct interferes with tenant’s access to or use of the property)
  • Landlord does not follow the proper eviction procedures
  • Landlord evicts tenant for not paying rent and
    • Tenant paid full rent
    • Landlord did not maintain rental unit in a fit and habitable condition (necessary utilities, heat and water, necessary repairs)
  • Landlord continues eviction proceedings even after tenant has paid the rent due
  • Landlord evicts tenant based on discrimination

New York Laws on Retaliation

Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights. For example, landlords may not seek to evict tenants solely because tenants:

  • Make good faith complaints to a government agency regarding violations of any health or safety laws
  • Take actions to protect their rights under the lease
  • Participate in tenant organizations

In New York, there is a presumption of retaliation if the landlord acts in this manner within six months of the date that a tenant has exercised a legal right. Tenants available remedies include collecting damages from landlords who violate this law. Please note this law applies to all rentals, except for owner-occupied dwellings with less than four units.

New York Laws on Domestic Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Sexual Assault

In most states, including New York, the law affords special protections to victims of domestic violence. Most notably, the landlord should not evict, threaten to evict, or fail to renew a lease because the tenant has been a victim of crime, including the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, or abuse.

The landlord must also inform the tenant, in writing, that they may break a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence. Moreover, landlords cannot require tenants to provide proof of domestic violence status before releasing tenants from a lease, and cannot require that the tenant waive some or all of their domestic violence rights.

Read more about the rights of domestic violence victims.

New York Laws on Changing the Locks and Security Devices

In New York, landlords are not required to change the locks before a new tenant moves in. Yet, most landlords do in fact re-key the premises before a new tenant moves in.

Furthermore, both residential and commercial landlords are required to provide certain security devices on the leased premises. Most notably, similar to other states’ regulations, the landlord has a duty to install entrance door locks, an intercom system, and window guards.

Moreover, landlords are required to take precautions to protect against reasonably foreseeable criminal harm and tenants are required to comply with certain safety precautions.

Tenants residing in dwellings with eight or more apartments are allowed to hire a lobby attendant service for their safety at their own expense. Further, tenants can also request that their landlord installs a mirror in each self-service elevator so that people can see in prior to entering.

After the tenant has made a request for the landlord to install one of these devices, the landlord must install it within a reasonable amount of time.

New York Landlords Change the Locks

New York Pet Laws

New York does not have any specific pet laws. Landlords are allowed to create their own requirements for pets. For example, they can decide if pets are allowed, what size is allowed, etc.

According to New York law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring their service animals to all public accommodations, such as government buildings, hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and stores. These laws also require those who operate transportation services to allow service animals. Both laws protect people in New York who use service animals, and tenants are entitled to rely on whichever law gives them the most protections.

Read more about allowing pets in a rental property here.

Rental License in New York

Landlord are not required to have a rental license in New York. However, we do advise that you check your local jurisdiction for rental license laws and be aware that, if required, they typically need to be renewed annually.

Notice of Entry Laws in New York

How much notice is a landlord required to provide tenants in New York?

There is no required amount of time that landlords must provide. That being said, 24 hours is recommended. The landlord is not required to provide notice of entry for non-emergency maintenance and repairs, emergencies, and showings to prospective tenants.

In all other circumstances, written notice must be given must state the nature of the repair. The landlord must visit the property during a “reasonable time,” which is usually interpreted as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, holidays excluded.

Notice of Entry

Sublease and Assignment Provisions in New York

Subleasing occurs when the original tenant rents the premises to another individual. In most states, subleasing is not allowed unless the landlord consents. A typical sublease provision in New York, reads as follows:

Tenant may not sublet all or any portion of the demised premises without Landlord’s written consent, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.”

In New York, landlords can impose penalties if the tenant violates the terms of the rental agreement by subleasing the premises. Any sublet that does not comply with these provisions is considered a substantial breach of lease, which could potentially result in eviction.

Check out Rocket Lawyer’s Sublease Agreement here.

Abandonment of Property Provisions in New York?

According to New York law, property remaining in a tenant’s home is the rightful property of the tenant. The landlord has no right to sell a tenant’s personal possessions or to discard them as abandoned property. Title and ownership remain with the evicted tenant, unless the tenant expresses her desire to abandon the property. Generally, landlords should provide their tenants with at least 30 days’ written notice to claim their property.

Because language relating to abandoned property is virtually absent in New York, we recommend updating your lease agreement to include provisions about dealing with a tenant’s abandoned property. In states without an abandoned property lease provision, it’s beneficial to include language that tells both the landlord and tenant what will happen if the tenant moves out and leaves belongings behind. For example, the clause could state that the landlord will discard any belongings left behind after abandonment of property.

Required New York Rental Agreement Disclosures

Lead paint: Under Federal law, landlords are required to provide a pamphlet informing occupants about lead. Landlords in New York must also send an annual lead notice between January 1st-15th to all tenants in pre-1960 multiple dwellings or dwellings constructed between 1960-1978  where lead-based paint is known to exist.

Structural Damage/Mold: The landlord is required to disclose any structural damage, including but not limited to water, fire, smoke, or insect damage and the condition of the roof, and mold.

Utility Disclosure: Landlords are required to disclose certain mechanical services and utilities, including the water source and quality, location of sewers and drainage systems, and any presence of flooding. Such notice shall be provided by the seller prior to accepting a purchase offer.

Sex Offender Disclosure: land Sex Offender Registration Act of 1995 was enacted to protect communities by:

  1. Requiring sex offenders to register with the state
  2. Providing information to the public about certain sex offenders living in their communities.

The tenant is entitled to this information if requested.

Bed Bug Disclosure: According to the NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act, landlords must notify prospective tenants in writing about any bed bug infestations that have occurred in their building in the past year. See the Bed Bug Form here.

Foreclosure Disclosure: New York requires the foreclosing party to notify tenants of an impending foreclosure through a notice delivered by both certified and first-class mail.

Oft-Cited New York Landlord and Tenant Laws

Below you will find references to areas of the New York rules and regulations that govern rental properties and issues related to landlord-tenant law.

N.Y. Real Prop. Law – Article 7 §§ 220 to 238

  •    N.Y. RPP §223-B. Retaliation by landlord against tenant. Under specific circumstances, landlord may not retaliate against the tenant. If landlord does retaliate, the tenant has certain rights.
  •    N.Y. RPP §227-A. Senior Citizen Early Lease Termination. Tenants or their spouses living with them, who are sixty-two years or older, or who will attain such age during the term of their lease, are entitled to terminate their leases if they relocate to an adult care facility, a residential health care facility, subsidized low-income housing, or other senior citizen housing.
  •    N.Y. RPP §227-C. Termination of residential lease by victims of domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence may terminate their lease early if they are able to demonstrate that there continues to be a substantial risk of physical or emotional harm to the tenant or the tenant’s child.
  •    N.Y. RPP §231-A. Sprinkler system notice in residential agreements. Every residential lease shall provide conspicuous notice in bold face type as to the existence or non-existence of a maintained and operative sprinkler system in the leased premises.
  •    N.Y. RPP §232-A. Notice to terminate monthly tenancy or tenancy from month-to-month in the city of New York. For a month-to-month tenancy, tenant must provide the landlord with at least 30 days’ notice if they wish to terminate the lease agreement.
  •    N.Y. RPP. §235-A. Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services. Tenant is allowed to withhold rent if landlord fails to provide essential services.
  •    N.Y. RPP. §235-B. Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent. Tenant has the right to withhold rent or repair and deduct rent, when the landlord fails to remedy or repair.
  •    N.Y. RPP. §235-E. Receipt of Rent. Landlord is required to provide tenant with receipt of rent after the rental agreement has been entered into.
  •    N.Y. RPP. §235-G. Electric Billing or Payment of Rent. The landlord cannot require the tenant to use an electronic billing or payment system as the only method for the payment of rent.

N.Y. Real Property Article 14: Property Condition Disclosure in the Sale of Residential Property

  •    NYY RPP. §462. Property Condition Disclosure Statement. Landlord has a duty to the tenant to disclose certain conditions regarding the property.
  •    NYY RPP. §465. Remedy. Buyer has certain remedies where the seller fails to perform the duty prescribed in this article to deliver a disclosure statement prior to the signing by the buyer of a binding contract of sale.

New York City Administrative Code

  •    NYC Admin. Code § 27-2011. Landlord’s Duty to Repair. Landlord has a duty to repair when tenant has complained or filed a cause for repair against the landlord.
  •    NYC Admin. Code § 27-2045. Smoke Detectors. Landlord has a duty to provide working smoke detectors.
  •    NYC Admin. Code 27-§ 2046.1. Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Landlord is required to provide functioning carbon monoxide detectors.
  •    NYC Admin. Code § 27-2040. Entrance Door Locks and Intercoms. Landlord is required to provide automatic self-closing and self-locking doors at all entrances for certain dwellings.
  •    NYC Admin. Code § 27-2042. Elevator Mirrors. Landlord is obligated to provide elevator mirrors on the leased premises.
  •    NYC Admin. Code § 27-2043. Individual locks, peepholes and mailboxes. Landlord must provide a peephole in the entrance door of each apartment and also must install a chain-door guard on the entrance door to each apartment.
  •    NYC Admin. Code § 27-2029. Heating Season. Landlord has a duty to provide heat of 68° F,  between Oct. 1 and May 31, (6 a.m. and 10 p.m.) when the temperature outside is below 55° F and 55° F between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. when the temperature outside is below 40° F.

General Obligations Law

  •    N.Y. GOL § 5-702: Lease Provisions. Leases must use words with common and everyday meanings and must be clear and coherent. Sections of leases must be appropriately captioned and the print must be large enough to be read easily.
  •    N.Y. GOL §§ 7-103(1). Separate Security Deposit Bank Account. Landlord is required to store the tenant’s security deposit in a separate bank account and not commingle the deposit with their own personal funds.
  •    N.Y. GOL §§ 7-103(2). Receipt of Deposit. Landlord has a duty to provide the tenant with a receipt, indicating the name and address of the banking institution where the funds have been deposited and the amount deposited.
  •    N.Y. GOL §§ 7-103(2-a): Security Deposit Interest. If the rental property contains 6 or more family dwellings, landlord is required to keep the deposit in a New York interest-bearing bank account and collect interest on behalf of the tenant.
  •    N.Y. GOL §§ 7-105. Transfer of Property Ownership. When there has been a transfer of ownership in the property, landlord must notify the tenant, either by registered or certified mail, including the name and address of the new owner.

Multiple Dwelling Law

This statute highlights New York rules and regulations pertaining to multiple dwelling units.

  •    N.Y. MDL §§ 75. Hot WaterLandlords must provide all tenants of multiple dwellings with both hot and cold water. Hot water must register at or above a constant temperature of 120 degrees at the tap. If a tub or shower is equipped with an anti-scald valve that prevents the hot water temperature from exceeding 120 degrees, the minimum hot water temperature for that tub or shower is 110 degrees.

New York Landlord-Tenant Law Resources

Tenant’s Rights Guide (New York Attorney General)

Domestic Violence Victim’s Pamphlet

Property Condition Disclosure Statement Form

Lead Paint Brochure

Renters Rights in Central New York

New York City Rent Guidelines Board

New York City Rent Guidelines Board (Repairs)

New York City Landlord-Tenant Law

For the most part, the rules and regulations in New York City are similar to the state of New York. There are 24a few distinct differences that are worth further explanation:

Termination of Month-to-Month Tenancy

A month-to-month tenancy in New York City may be terminated by either party by giving at least 30 days’ notice.

Rent Control v. Rent Stabilization

Rent control limits the rent an owner may charge for an apartment and restricts the right of the owner to evict tenants. Rent control is still in effect in New York City and several other counties in New York State.

In New York City, apartments are generally under rent stabilization if they are in buildings:

  • Of six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and December 31, 1973.
  • Built before February 1, 1947, with tenants who moved in after June 30, 1971.
  • With three or more apartments constructed or extensively renovated.

Landlords with NYC rent-stabilized units must provide tenants written notice of a lease renewal (by mail or personal delivery) between 90-150 days before the renewal.

Special Types of Housing

In New York City, several categories of special housing arrangements exist:

  • Manufactured and mobile home parks’ owners and tenants are governed by Real Property Law § 233 (“Mobile Homeowner’s Bill of Rights”). The Division of Housing and Community Renewal enforces compliance with this law.
  • New York City loft owners and tenants are governed by Multiple Dwelling Law, Article 7-C, enforced by the New York City Loft Board. The loft board ensures these residential dwellings are used in a safe and legal manner.
  • New York City residential hotel owners and tenants are governed by the rent stabilization law, enforced by the DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal).

Senior Citizen Exemption

In New York City, a landlord may evict a senior citizen only if the tenant is provided with an equivalent or superior apartment at the same or lower rent in a nearby area.

Notice to Enter for Repair

Under New York state laws, there is no required notice before the landlord enters the leased premises for maintenance or repairs, emergency situations, or prospective showings. However, the rules for New York City are different. According to the New York Attorney General’s office, courts in New York City have interpreted “reasonable notice” to mean 24-hour notice for an inspection, and one-week notice for repairs.

Eviction Rules

Landlords in New York City who use illegal methods to force a tenant to move are also subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Further, the tenant may be entitled to be restored to occupancy.

In New York City, a landlord may not evict a tenant in a rent-stabilized apartment if the tenant or the spouse of the tenant is a senior citizen or disabled. The only exception is if the landlord provides an equivalent or superior apartment at the same or lower rent in a nearby area.

Carbon Monoxide Requirements

Landlords of all multiple dwellings, including those owned as a condominium or cooperative, used as a residence and one-and two-family homes in New York City must provide and install an approved carbon monoxide alarm within fifteen feet of the primary entrance to each sleeping room.

Disclaimer

This article is designed to convey information, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney in relation to any decision or course of action contemplated.

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