When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in New York?
It’s illegal for New York landlords to retaliate byrefusing to renew the leaseor bysubstantially changing the lease terms(includingrent increases) against a tenant who has, in good faith, taken one of the following actions within the last year:
Reports health and safety violations to the landlord or government.
Participates in a tenant organization.
Pursues rights under the law or rental agreement.
There’s an exception when the landlord establishes a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent in a proportionate and legal way as a response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
What Can Tenants Do in Response in New York?
If a landlord retaliates in New York, the tenant can respond bysuing for damages, court costs, and attorney fees.The tenant could alsoask for injunctionsto end the rental agreement or prevent further retaliation. Finally, provable retaliation is an absolutedefense against evictionproceedings.
“No landlord of premises or units to which this section is applicable shall serve a notice to quit… [for] good faith complaint… [regarding] alleged violation of any health or safety law, regulation, code, or ordinance, the warranty of habitability… duty to repair… or which pertains to the offense of rent gouging… [or for] Actions taken in good faith, by or in behalf of the tenant, to secure or enforce any rights… [or for] The tenant’s participation in the activities of a tenant’s organization.”
“No landlord of premises or units to which this section is applicable or such landlord’s agent shall substantially alter the terms of the tenancy in retaliation for any actions set forth in paragraphs a, b, and c of subdivision one of this section [complaints, pursuing rights, or participating in a tenant organization]. Substantial alteration shall include, but is not limited to, the refusal to continue a tenancy of the tenant, upon expiration of the tenant’s lease, to renew the lease or offer a new lease, or offering a new lease with an unreasonable rent increase; provided, however, that a landlord shall not be required under this section to offer a new lease or a lease renewal for a term greater than one year.”
“In an action or proceeding instituted against a tenant of premises or a unit to which this section is applicable, a rebuttable presumption that the landlord is acting in retaliation shall be created if the tenant establishes that the landlord served a notice to quit, or instituted an action or proceeding to recover possession, or attempted to substantially alter the terms of the tenancy, within one year after… A good faith complaint … of any health or safety … or … The tenant in good faith took action to secure or enforce against the landlord or his agents any rights … [or] Judgment under subdivision three or four of this section was entered for the tenant in a previous action between the parties.”
“A landlord shall be subject to a civil action for damages, attorney’s fees and costs and other appropriate relief, including injunctive and other equitable remedies, as may be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction in any case in which the landlord has violated the provisions of this section.”
“In any action to recover real property or summary proceeding to recover possession of real property, judgment shall be entered for the tenant if the court finds that the landlord is acting in retaliation for any action set forth in paragraphs a, b, and c of subdivision one of this section [complaints, pursuing rights, or participating in a tenant organization]. Retaliation shall be asserted as an affirmative defense in such action or proceeding. The tenant shall not be relieved of the obligation to pay any rent for which he is otherwise liable.”