A residential lease agreement in New York City is a binding document between a landlord and a tenant. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions surrounding the use of a rental property in exchange for payment.
Residential Lease Agreement Requirements in New York City
New York City currently has several mandatory notices and disclosures that landlords must provide to tenants. These disclosures are either in addition to or modify requirements for New York state’s lease agreement requirements.
Bed Bug Disclosure
All New York City landlords must disclose a one-year history of all bed bug infestations for both the unit and the building. Properties with bed bugs cannot be rented, and landlords must resolve infestations immediately.
Stovetop Protection Notice
Landlords in New York City must annually notify tenants of the landlord’s obligation to provide stove knob covers, or permanent stove safety knobs with an integrated locking mechanism. This applies to all multi-family units in New York City.
Window Guards Notice
Landlords in New York City are required to provide window guards in properties with children under 10 years old—with the exception of first-floor windows and windows with fire escapes. They must also provide an annual notice stating their responsibility to install and maintain working window guards.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Notice
New York City landlords are required to install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all rental units. Landlords must provide tenants with an annual notice of smoke and carbon monoxide detector requirements.
Gas Safety Notice
Landlords must provide tenants with a written notice explaining the appropriate safety measures to take if they suspect there is a gas leak in their rental property.
Copy of Signed Lease Agreement
New York City requires landlords to provide tenants in rent-stabilized units with a copy of the signed lease agreement. This should be delivered within 30 days of the start of the lease agreement.
Landlord-Tenant Rights and Regulations in New York City
When it comes to landlord-tenant rights, landlords should be aware of the following:
Similar to State law, New York City also has statutes making tenant harassment illegal. In New York City, it is illegal for landlords to harass their tenants in order to force them out of their rental property. Examples of tenant harassment include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Threats or intimidation
- Illegal lockouts
- Manipulating or forcing a tenant into a buyout agreement
- Refusing to provide repairs or services
- Unjustified eviction notices
New York City tenants may be entitled to temporary relocation assistance if their unit is under construction due to the city’s Build It Back program—a federally-funded program assisting landlords, tenants, and homeowners with building rehabilitation. The unit must be the renter’s primary residence and they must be displaced for longer than 30 days in order to receive benefits.
Rent Control and Rent Stabilization
Rent-regulated buildings in New York City have specific guidelines that determine if they are rent-controlled or rent-stabilized. In general, the following criteria determine which category they fall under:
- Rent controlled – Buildings built before 1947, where the tenant has been living in the unit since at least 1971
- Rent stabilized – Buildings with six or more units built before July 1st, 1974, where the unit was leased after June 1971
In New York City, the rent control system is based on the Maximum Base Rent (MBR) system. Every two years, a maximum base rent is set for each apartment in the city. Building owners in good standing may raise the rent within certain guidelines. Tenants may challenge these rent increases if the landlord has violated the lease agreement or the rent increases are not warranted.
Rent increase laws in New York City depend on a building’s rent regulation status. For non-regulated buildings, rent increases are at the landlord’s discretion. However, landlords must notify tenants if they plan to increase the rent by more than 5% or will not be offering a lease renewal. The required notice depends on how long the tenant has lived in the unit:
- 30 days’ notice – tenants who have lived in the unit for less than one year
- 60 days’ notice – tenants who have lived in the unit for 1-2 years
- 90 days’ notice – tenants who have lived in the unit for over 2 years
For rent-stabilized apartments, rent increases are determined by the city. For leases beginning after October 1st, 2023, the Rent Guidelines Board approved a 3% increase for one-year leases. Two-year leases will increase by 2.75% in the first year and 3.2% in the second year. Landlords must also offer a lease renewal at least 90 days in advance. Then, tenants will have 60 days to accept or decline.
Rent Freeze Program
New York City’s Rent Freeze Program allows senior citizens and tenants with disabilities to freeze their rent and remain in affordable housing. This program uses property tax credit to cover the difference between the actual rent and what the tenant owes. Eligibility requirements are as follows:
- The tenant is at least 62 years OR over 18 with a disability
- The tenant’s annual income is $50,000 or less
- The tenant spends more than one-third of their monthly income on rent
- The tenant’s unit must be regulated by HCR (Homes and Community Renewal)
If a tenant applies and is eligible for this program, the landlord must honor it and cannot prevent tenants from receiving benefits. It is also important to note that certain low-income housing and market-rate apartments are not eligible for this program.
Heat and Hot Water
Under New York City law, landlords must provide heat from October 1st through May 31st. If the outside temperature is consistently below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, there are specific guidelines for indoor temperatures:
- During the day – a minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit
- At night – a minimum of 62 degrees Fahrenheit
Self-closing doors are required in New York City, and landlords must ensure all doors in their rental property are self-closing, and make any appropriate repairs.
New York City law has several categories of housing violations that range from immediately hazardous to non-hazardous. Below is a breakdown of these violations:
- Class A – Non-hazardous; must be resolved within 90 days (e.g., the front door does not have a peephole)
- Class B – Hazardous; must be resolved within 30 days (e.g., no working smoke detectors)
- Class C – Immediately Hazardous; must be resolved immediately, within 24 hours, or 21 days (depending on the violation)
Class C violations have different timelines depending on the issue. For example, heat and hot water violations must be resolved immediately, while mold or roach infestations must be resolved within 21 days.
Under local law, landlords who enter into a buyout agreement with their tenants must inform Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) about the terms of the agreement. Landlords must provide the following information within 90 days of the execution of this agreement:
- Name of the owner
- Address of the property
- Amount of money agreed upon
- Date of the buyout agreement
- Number of months left in the lease agreement
Optional Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums in New York City
While not mandatory, landlords can add specific disclosures and addendums to their leases. This helps outline the responsibilities of the tenant and can prevent future liability issues.
Pest Control Addendum
With New York City’s high rodent population, landlords may want to include a pest control addendum. This should highlight tenants’ responsibilities related to pest prevention—including reporting any signs of pests to management as soon as possible.
This pest control addendum does not apply to bed bugs—as landlords are required by the city to provide information on bed bug prevention.
Crime and Drug-Free Lease Addendum
Due to New York City’s high crime rate, it would be in the landlord’s best interest to include a disclosure stating that engaging in criminal activity, including drug-related activity, is prohibited on or near the property.
Since New York is listed as the 4th highest state for asbestos-related deaths, landlords should include an addendum stating if asbestos is present on the property. If asbestos is present, tenants should take precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers.
Summary of Required Lease Disclosures for the State of New York
- Fire Sprinkler System – All New York lease agreements must disclose the presence or absence of a functioning fire sprinkler system on the property. If present, the lease must disclose all maintenance and inspection dates.
- Security Deposit Holdings – New York landlords must provide a written disclosure of how security deposit funds will be held before collecting the deposit. The disclosure must include the name and location of the holding institution and the sum held.
- Certificates of Occupancy –Landlords can’t rent out properties with three or fewer units without disclosing the certificate of occupancy status. A certificate of occupancy is a legal guarantee that all building codes are met, fees paid, and paperwork completed for the property. Units built after 1938 must have a certificate of occupancy.
- Lead-Based Paint – Federal law requires landlords to disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints in all residential buildings built before 1978.