New York Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: November 24, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

The New York residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a written contract for the exchange of the temporary use of a residential property for regular, periodic payments (“rent”). Once signed by the landlord and tenant, the document becomes legally binding for both parties.

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New York Lease Agreement Disclosures

The following disclosures are required for all residential lease agreements in New York.

Disclosure Applicable to
Fire Sprinkler System All Units
Bed Bugs All Units in New York City
Certificate of Occupancy Three or Fewer Units
Security Deposit Holdings All Units with a Security Deposit
Lead Paint All Units Prior to 1978

There are also a number of optional disclosures and addendums that help reduce future conflicts or legal liabilities in New York.

Operative Fire Sprinkler System Notice

Applicable to all residential leases.

All rental agreements in New York must include a conspicuous notice (written in bold face font) about whether the property has a functioning operative fire sprinkler system. If there is a system in place, the lease must include the date of maintenance and inspection.

The following is an example of a disclosure to include:

FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM. This rental property or dwelling unit is:
[ ] Equipped with a functioning fire sprinkler system
[ ] NOT equipped with a functioning fire sprinkler system

For functioning systems, the maintenance history is as follows:

Bed Bug Disclosure

Applicable to rental units located in New York City (not required in other cities).

While it is recommended that bed bug disclosures are included in residential leases in New York, this disclosure is required in New York City specifically. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) lists bed bugs as a Class B violation and the landlord must eradicate the bed bugs. This disclosure must include a one-year history of bed bug infestation and the building it is located in. Units with bed bugs may not be rented out.

BED BUGS. At the time of presenting this agreement, Landlord certifies that there is no current infestation on the property, and:

[ ] There is no known current infestation in the building.
[ ] There is a known current infestation in the building.

This unit:
[ ] Has had a bed bug infestation within the past year.
[ ] Has not had a bed bug infestation within the past year.

This building:
[ ] Has had a bed bug infestation within the past year.
[ ] Has not had a bed bug infestation within the past year.

See attached addendum for more information.


Download: New York Bed Bug Disclosure Form (PDF)

Certificate of Occupancy

Applicable to rental units with three or fewer rental units.

In New York, a tenant may not legally occupy a building until they are issued a Certificate of Occupancy or a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. This certificate ensures that all building codes are met, fees owed to the Department have been paid, and all the paperwork has been completed. A Certificate of Occupancy requirements include:

  • Final construction inspection.
  • Final plumbing inspection.
  • Final electrical inspection.
  • Final elevator inspection.
  • Final builder’s pavement plan.
  • Final building survey.
  • No open applications.
  • No open violations.
  • Owner’s Cost Affidavit.
  • Approved Schedule of Occupancy.

Before a tenant signs a residential rental agreement, the landlord shall provide a conspicuous notice (typed in bold face font) of a Certificate of Occupancy. A Certificate of Occupancy states that there is legal use of the occupancy.

New buildings must have a Certificate of Occupancy and existing buildings shall have a current Certificate of Occupancy. Any building that was built before 1938 is not required to have a Certificate of Occupancy, unless it has changed its use.

Security Deposit Holdings Disclosure

Applicable to any rental agreements where the landlord collects a security deposit.

If a New York landlord asks for a security deposit, they must provide a written disclosure of how those security deposit funds will be kept while the tenant is renting the property.

This disclosure must include the name of the holding institution, the location of the holding, and the sum of the holding. It may also include the account number.

Download: New York Security Deposit Holdings Disclosure Form (PDF)

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

Applicable to any rental units built prior to 1978.

It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints. This law requires landlords in New York to:

Download: New York Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form (PDF)

Optional Disclosures & Addendums (Recommended)

The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by New York law in residential lease agreements, but either help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.

  • Landlord Name & Address – to create a line of communication for important notices and demands between tenant and landlord, it is recommended that New York landlords provide contact information within or alongside the lease for themselves or anyone authorized to act on behalf of the property.
  • Medical Marijuana Use – it is recommended to state where medical marijuana use is and isn’t allowed on the property so that expectations are clear. New York law allows landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only or control where users can smoke to not interfere with other tenants.
  • Move-in Checklist – it is recommended to provide an itemized list of damages to the property before move-in to make sure tenants are responsible for any serious damages that occur during the lease term. This can be attached to the lease agreement or signed as a separate document.
  • Late and Returned Check Fees – it is recommended that landlords disclose in the lease any late fees or returned (bounced) check fees that they intend to charge. New York does not limit how high these fees can be, but they should be considered reasonable (often no more than 10% of rent) and reflect the actual expenses incurred by the landlord as a result of a late payment. They must also be charged only after the agreed upon due date for rent, dictated in the lease. Returned check fees are limited to $20 per bad check.
  • Shared Utilities Arrangements – for rental units with shared utilities, it is recommended to disclose the specifics of how they are shared, and how each party’s bill is calculated, so that tenants have a reasonable expectation of what they owe each month.
  • Asbestos Disclosure – for rental units built prior to 1981, asbestos was a common building material. This disclosure will notify the tenant to take certain precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers (i.e. no sanding, pounding, modifications or repairs, without the landlord’s consent). The disclosure will also notify the tenant of their obligation to immediately notify the landlord if any ceilings begin to deteriorate.
  • Mold Disclosure – it is recommended to disclose the current mold status of a property in the lease to protect against future liability of mold damages due to the tenant’s negligence during the lease term.