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Landlord-Tenant Law

New York Rental Laws Landlords Need to Know

As a state, New York is generally considered to be tenant-friendly, despite the high rents, as there are multiple rent control clauses in place. With this being said, it’s important for landlords to understand the ins and outs of New York state rental laws to ensure they remain compliant and avoid being on the receiving end of legal action.

In this article, we detail the main New York rental laws that landlords need to be aware of and remain in compliance with in order to run a professional and legal rental business.

Tenant screening

When screening potential tenants, landlords may charge a maximum of $20 for a credit or background check. If a landlord is using a tenant screening service that costs more than this, they must foot the bill themselves. Additionally, the tenant is entitled to an invoice or receipt from the company that ran the check, as well as a copy of the check itself and landlords may not collect the fee before supplying these to tenants.

Tenants in New York cannot be denied based on past legal conflicts with a landlord (for example, if they have previously sued a landlord).

Landlords in New York are also not allowed to charge any additional fees for the processing, review, or acceptance of an application.

Security deposit

Security deposits are not mandatory in New York but if a landlord does decide to collect them, the maximum amount that can be charged cannot exceed one months’ rent.

Once collected, the deposit should be kept separate from the landlord’s other assets. Furthermore, if deposits are collected from a property that has more than six units, they should be stored in an interest-bearing bank account. When the security deposit is returned to the tenant, the interest accrued should also be given back (minus 1% per year for the landlord as an admin fee).

Security deposits must be returned within 14 days after the tenant leaves. The landlord can withhold the deposit to cover excess damage or to cover unpaid rent.

Leases

In New York state, rental law stipulates that leases are required for tenancies that are 12 months or longer. Even if a tenancy is shorter than this, it’s common practice for landlords to provide a lease so that there is a clear written copy of the agreement. A copy of the lease should be given to the tenant within 30 days after it has been signed.

Regarding prohibited lease provisions, landlords cannot exempt themselves from liability for injuries to persons or property caused by negligence or waive the tenants’ right to a jury trial.

Monthly leases may be terminated by either party (landlord or tenant) by giving one months’ notice.

Rent control

New York state rental law also covers rent control. These laws limit the amount of rent a landlord can charge and are in effect in the following areas:

  • New York City
  • Parts of Albany
  • Erie
  • Nassau
  • Rensselaer
  • Schenectady
  • Westchester

In these areas, rent can be raised up to 7.5% every two years. Rent control laws apply to residential buildings built prior to February 1947.

If an apartment or property is not rent-regulated, a landlord is free to charge any rent agreed upon.

Landlords cannot insist that tenants pay their rent electronically. In a case where the landlord primarily collects rent online, they must also offer tenants another option for rent payment. Tenants cannot be charged for taking another option.

When a rent-controlled apartment is vacated, it becomes rent-stabilized.

Rent stabilization

Buildings built before 1974 with more than 6 units are subject to rent stabilization laws. Maximum rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments are set each year by local Rent Guidelines Boards.

Tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are entitled to required essential services and lease renewals on the same terms and conditions as the original lease and may not be evicted except on grounds allowed by law.

Between tenancies, the rent increase is limited to 20%.

Late fees

Landlords in New York may choose to enforce late fees if rent is not paid on time. For a rent payment to be considered late, it must be received more than 5 days after the due date. After 5 days, the landlord may charge a late fee of $50 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is less.

The late fee terms must be written into the lease at the start of the agreement.

Receipts

Unless a tenant is paying by personal check, landlords in New York must provide tenants with a written receipt when rent is paid. If a tenant is paying by personal check, they can request receipts for the duration of their tenancy.

Landlords must keep proof of cash rent receipts for 3 years.

Landlord’s duty of repair

Landlords in New York have a duty to repair damage to their property within a reasonable time frame. This means that electric, plumbing, sanitary, and heating systems should be adequately maintained throughout the year. Common and public areas must also be kept clean and free of garbage, vermin, or other offensive material.

Pets

Landlords are legally required to permit guide dogs or service dogs belonging to tenants who are blind or deaf. Similarly, emotional support animals (ESAs) belonging to tenants with chronic mental illness must be accommodated. This is regardless of whether or not you usually allow pets in your rental property.

Aside from guidelines for tenants with assistance animals (as outlined above), there are no New York State rental laws regarding pets. Individual landlords may decide whether or not to allow pets in their property.

Disabilities

As well as allowing guide dogs and ESAs, New York state rental laws determine that landlords are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. Should a tenant with a disability request reasonable structural modifications of the property (e.g. building a ramp or installing grab bars), a landlord must comply. They may require tenants to restore the interior to its original state before vacating the property.

Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act prevents discriminatory practices against certain protected classes in relation to housing. In addition to these protected classes, tenants residing in New York City are further protected from discrimination against the following:

  • Physical, medical, or mental disability
  • Partnership status
  • Status as a veteran or active service member
  • Immigration status
  • Status as a victim of domestic violence

Heating

Landlords who are renting to tenants in multiple dwelling units must supply heating from October 1st to May 31st. Units should be heated to a certain temperature when the outside temperature goes below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the locality, there are different regulations for temperature guidelines.

Eviction

New York state rental laws stipulate that tenants may be evicted, regardless of the lease, for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Using the property for illegal purposes
  • Breaching the lease agreement
  • Nonpayment of rent

Landlords may not take the law into their own hands and evict a tenant by use of force or unlawful means (e.g. threats of violence, removing a tenant’s possessions, blocking essential services like heat and water, etc.).

If the lease is violated, the landlord must provide the tenant a ten-day notice to fix the violation. If it is not fixed, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit.

Miscellaneous

Some other rental laws that landlords in New York should be aware of are as follows:

  1. Bed bug infestations from the past year should be declared to prospective tenants.
  2. Lead-based paint pamphlets should be provided to tenants.
  3. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be provided by landlords.
  4. Peepholes and chain-door guards must be on every apartment’s front door.
  5. Locks can be changed between tenants if desired although there is no legal requirement to do so.

Resources related to New York state rental laws

Disclaimer

We hope you found this blog interesting! However, do note that the information in this article does not constitute advice. This blog is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for competent legal and/or other advice from a licensed professional.

landlord lawsNew YorkRent Control

Jasmine Delves profile
Jasmine Delves

Jasmine Delves is a Content Specialist at Landlord Studio. She writes on all things rental property management, from renovations and pet policies to tenant screening and income tax rates.

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