New York rental agreements can be either written or oral. If a rental agreement exists and is valid, New York law (NY Real Property Law Sec. 220-238A) states that landlords have certain rights, such as the right to receive timely rent and the right to be reimbursed for damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Tenants also have certain rights, such as the right to a habitable premises and protection from illegal retaliation.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in New York
In New York, landlords must provide a habitable dwelling for tenants and must respond to repair requests in a “reasonable” timeframe, although “reasonable” is not defined by law. If they do not, then New York tenants have the right to take at least two forms of alternative action. They can withhold rent entirely or they can make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from future rental payments.
Here is a list of essential amenities that New York landlords are or are not responsible for providing.
|Waterproofing on ceilings, walls, and floors||Yes|
|Electrical outlets and wiring||Yes|
|Bugs and vermin||Yes|
|Lockable windows and doors||Yes|
|Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors||Yes|
Landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation for exercising their housing rights (i.e. filing a health and safety complaint with the local housing authority).
Tenant Responsibilities in New York
Apart from paying rent in a timely manner, New York tenants must:
- Keep the unit clean and free from trash
- Make small repairs and maintenance
- Keep fixtures clean and sanitary
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors
Evictions in New York
Landlords in New York are empowered to evict tenants for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – If a tenant fails to pay rent then the landlord may issue a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Quit, after any applicable grace period. If the tenant still does not pay, then the landlord may begin formal eviction proceedings.
- Lease violation – If a lease violation occurs then the landlord may issue a 10-Day Notice to Cure. If the issue is not fixed within 10 days, then the landlord can issue a further 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not vacate the property, then the landlord may begin formal eviction proceedings.
- Illegal acts – New York landlords have broad authority to determine which illegal activities warrant eviction. New York tenants can face immediate eviction if the landlord has documentation of illegal activities occurring on the premises.
At-will tenants are entitled to receive at least 30 days’, 60 days’, and 90 days’ notice, depending on if they have rented for less than a year, between 1-2 years, and greater than 2 years, respectively. It is illegal for landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in New York
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – 1 month’s rent.
- Time Limit for Returns – 14 days.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a New York landlord wrongfully withholds rent, then they may be liable to forfeit the claim and pay damages based on the intent of the withholding.
- Allowable Deductions – Unpaid tent, damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Lease Termination in New York
Notice requirements. If a New York tenant on a periodic lease wishes to break the lease, then they must give the following amounts of notice:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early termination. New York tenants are allowed to legally break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Active military duty
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Domestic violence and stalking
- Senior citizens and serious health issues
Current law does not require landlords to make a reasonable effort to re-rent a unit so tenants may be required to keep paying if they vacate the premises. Landlords do have an obligation to mitigate damages in such a situation, though this depends on the specific circumstances.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in New York
- Rent control. New York has statewide rent control policies and different municipalities can partake in a “rent stabilization” program. Under these programs, local jurisdictions are empowered to set local rental prices for units built after 1971.
- Rental increases. New York state law does not require landlords to give prior notice before raising rental prices, though individual lease agreements might have such requirements.
- Rent-related fees. Late fees are not limited by the state but returned check fees are capped at $20 per instance, but only if it is included in the lease agreement.
Housing Discrimination in New York
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, national origin, or familial status. This rule does not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. New York state law adds additional protections for tenants on the basis of age, marital status, military status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. The New York State Division of Human Rights handles housing discrimination complaints in the state. The following behaviors have been identified as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected group:
- Refusing to rent, sell, or lease housing
- Applying different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Advertising that indicates discriminatory preferences
- Using applications that directly or indirectly put limits on preferences for prospective tenants
- Providing different treatment to tenants that use a service or emotional support animal
- Retaliating against tenants who testify against their landlord
- Falsely denying housing availability
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations
Tenants who believe they have been the victim of housing discrimination may file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights, either online or through one of the Department’s regional offices which can be found in this guide.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in New York
Landlord Right to Entry in New York
New York law does not define limits on a landlord’s right to entry. As such, landlords are technically free to enter when they wish without notice. However, most landlords and tenants create entry notification policies in the lease agreement. Landlords are assumed to not need to get permission to enter in case of emergencies.
Small Claims Court in New York
New York small claims court will hear rent-related disputes valued up to $5,000 unless they are filed in a town or village court, in which case the limit is $3,000. Eviction cases are not handled by the small claims court system. More info on the state’s court system can be found here.
Mandatory Disclosures in New York
New York landlords must give the following mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-based paint. Landlords who own homes built before 1978 must provide info about concentrations of lead paint.
- Authorized agents. Landlords must also provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning or managing the property.
- Security deposit maintenance. New York landlords must disclose the location of any security deposits they maintain over the course of the tenant’s lease.
- Licensee relationships. Licensee acting as agents of the landlords are required to provide this state-published disclosure that clarifies their relationship to larger leasing parties.
- Rent control ordinances. New York rent control stabilization laws require landlords to disclose these ordinances to tenants.
Changing the Locks in New York
New York state law prohibits lockouts, especially as a form of retaliation. It is unclear whether tenants are allowed to change the locks as it is not addressed in New York’s landlord-tenant laws.
Local Laws in New York
New York City Landlord Tenant Rights
New York City has several local laws and regulations for landlords and tenants. For example, many NYC units are covered under rent stabilization ordinances which set restrictions on rental prices. NYC also has additional disclosure requirements such as bedbug history. This guide contains more information about NYC’s various housing regulations.
Buffalo Landlord Tenant Rights
The city of Buffalo has laws that protect tenants from discrimination on the basis of gender identity, immigration status, and lawful source of income. This legislation also prevents landlords from denying tenants on the basis of receipt of disability benefits, veteran’s benefits, or other government subsidies and non-wage income. More info can be found here.
Syracuse Landlord Tenant Rights
Syracuse maintains an official definition for “reasonable” as it relates to the legal return of a tenant’s security deposit. New York state interprets this ordinance as giving landlords 2 weeks to return a deposit. This policy is not open to interpretation. More information can be found here.
Yonkers Landlord Tenant Rights
Yonkers requires all landlords to provide in-unit heating during certain parts of the year. City code mandates heating capable of 68 degrees-F in all rooms from September 15 to May 31 each year. The official statement can be found here.
Please check your local county and municipality for additional landlord-tenant regulations.