In New York a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by NY Cons. Laws RPP §235-b. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Applicable Dwelling Types in New York
The implied warranty of habitability in New York does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not addressed|
|Mobile home parks||No|
Most laws at the State level apply to multi-family units only. Residents or landlords of single-family dwellings will need to check with their local governments to determine what additional requirements they may have.
For all multi-family rental properties, landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.
Landlord Responsibilities in New York
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in New York, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Multi-family units|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Multi-family units (AC not required)|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Multi-family units|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Multi-family units|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Multi-family units|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Multi-family units|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||In the public areas of multi-family units|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Multi-family units|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Yes|
|Provide a mailbox.||Yes|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||No|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Multi-family units|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||No|
Remember, just because single-family rental properties aren’t addressed at the state level, it doesn’t mean they’re not addressed at the local level. Check with your local government regarding additional landlord/tenant responsibilities. Landlords are also responsible for any public areas of the building which is covered under the warranty of habitability.
Landlords of multi-family units are only required to mitigate lead paint if children aged six or younger reside in the rental unit with lead paint or in one of the rental units of an affected property.
Security (Multi-Family Units Only)
Rental properties with at least eight rental units must have a lobby attendant for tenant’s safety and a two-way intercom voice system from each apartment to the front door, this allows tenants to buzz in any invited guests. In addition, all rental unit doors must have peepholes and chain-style locks.
Exterior entrances to the building must have automatic self-closing and self-locking doors (which shall always remain locked, except when an attendant is on duty). Landlords are also required to install window guards in all units with children under the age of ten.
Any elevators must have mirrors that allow tenants to see if anyone else is already on the elevator.
Further, all stairways, entrances, and yard areas must be well-lit between sunrise and sunset.
All multi-family rental properties built after 1947 must be “rat-proof.”
Unless the rental agreement states that the landlord (or his or her agent) will distribute mail to each resident of a multi-family rental property, the landlord must provide “secure” mailboxes for each unit.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in New York
Tenants in New York must put repair requests in writing, if there is no response from the landlord, they may pursue legal action. Some remedies provided for tenants in New York are only available through court or agency intervention.
- Sending Notice – If the tenant needs repairs within the property, they must notify the landlord and ask when the repairs will be completed. In the case of emergency repairs, the tenant must inform the landlord that it is an emergency situation. Once notified, the landlord must make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time. A reasonable time period depends on the degree of the repairs required. In New York the law does not outline a specific timeframe, but if the landlord takes an unreasonable amount of time, the court could find the landlord in breach of the warranty of habitability.
- Landlord Access –Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants “reasonable” notice unless it’s an emergency.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in New York
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – New York landlord tenant law permits a tenant to withhold rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs but only after taking legal action.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants also have the right to repair the issue themselves and deduct a reasonable amount for the repair from the following month’s rent.
- Lawsuit – Tenants do have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported on a city or county level to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in New York
Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights. It is illegal for a landlord to evict tenants solely because tenants:
- Complain to a government agency regarding violations of any health or safety laws.
- Take legal actions to protect their rights under the lease.
- Participate in tenant organizations.
Landlords must not retaliate by:
- Increasing rent.
- Evict the tenant.
In New York, it is considered retaliatory conduct if the landlord attempts to evict the tenant within one year of the date that a tenant has exercised a legal right.