Landlords are not required by law to collect a security deposit from the tenant though it is recommended. If a security deposit is collected, it should equal no more than one month’s rent.
If the rent is later legally increased the landlord may also request an increase in the deposit to match this increase.
Residents in New York City, and rent-controlled / rent-stabilized apartments throughout the state, should check their local and county laws to determine whether there are local regulations concerning security deposit requirements and limits.
In New York, the landlord is required to return either part or all of the security deposit to the tenant, within a reasonable time after the tenant has vacated the premises. New York courts have generally construed a “reasonable time” to be within 14 days after the tenant leaves.
The term “reasonable” however, is interpreted differently throughout the different small claims courts in New York. So check with your local and county laws.
While the landlord is typically required to return the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord may withhold all or a portion or all of a tenant’s security deposit to cover costs related to damage to the property in excess of normal wear and tear or to cover unpaid rent. The landlord may also withhold all or part of the security deposit for additional breaches of the lease agreement.
Landlords must hold tenants’ security deposits in trusts. If a landlord owns a property that holds six or more tenants, the deposit must be held in an interest-bearing account by a banking organization. The account must earn interest at a rate that is equivalent to the interest rate for similar deposits in the same geographic area.
Tenants are entitled to the majority of the interest that their security deposit earns during tenancy, yet, a landlord may collect a 1% administration fee for handling the deposit.
Any commingling of the security deposit with the landlord’s personal funds is prohibited. NY GOL §§ 7-103(1))
Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No Statute
Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: If a landlord puts the security deposit in a bank, the landlord is required to disclose the name and address of that financial institution, and the amount of the security deposit. NY GOL §§ 7-103 to 7-108.
Receipt of Deposit: After a security deposit has been placed into a financial institution, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing. NY GOL §§ 7-103 to 7-108.
Transfer of Property Ownership: Deposit must be transferred within five days of property transfer. The landlord must notify the tenant by registered or certified mail of the name and address of the new owner. NY GOL §§ 7-105.
Rental agreements are required for tenancies that are 12 months or longer in New York. Even though lease terms that are less than 12 months are not required to be in writing, it is highly encouraged to have a written rental agreement.
Finally, in the state of New York, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a copy of the rental agreement 30 days after the agreement has been finalized.
Leases must use words with common and everyday meanings and must be clear and coherent. Sections of leases must be appropriately captioned and the print must be large enough to be read easily. (General Obligations Law § 5-702; NY C.P.L.R. § 4544.)
Generally, both the owner and lessee are required to include their name on the rental agreement, along with at least the following details:
Even though late fees are not a legal requirement according to the law of New York, it is recommended to include a late fee rule.
The following lease provisions are not allowed :
If a lease states that the landlord may recover attorney’s fees and costs incurred, a tenant automatically has a reciprocal right to recover those fees as well (Real Property Law § 234).
If the court finds a lease or any lease clause to have been unconscionable at the time it was made, the court may refuse to enforce the lease or the clause in question (Real Property Law § 235-c).
A month-to-month tenancy in New York may be terminated by either party by giving at least one month’s notice before the expiration of the tenancy. On the other hand, because a fixed lease term expires at the end of the term, no notice is needed.
The requirement of a lease renewal provision in the rental agreement depends on whether the premise is rent-stabilized. See the section on rent control and rent stabilization.
Rent stabilization means the landlord can only increase your rent by a certain percentage every year, as determined by the Rent Guidelines Board in New York. Tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are entitled to lease renewals on the same terms and conditions as the original lease.
Renewal Of Lease For Non-Regulated Apartment: A tenant may only renew the lease with the consent of the landlord and may be subject to eviction at the end of the lease term. However, a lease may contain an automatic renewal clause. NY GOL § 5-905.
Month to Month Tenants: A landlord may raise the rent of a month-to-month tenant with the consent of the tenant. If the tenant does not consent, however, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving appropriate notice. NY RPL § 232-a and § 232-b.
According to the laws of New York, there are certain situations where the tenant can legally break the terms of the lease. Those situations include:
The following are the legally justified reasons why your tenant could break their lease early:
Apartment Sharing: It is unlawful for a landlord to restrict the occupancy of an apartment to the named tenant in the lease or to that tenant and immediate family. Landlords may limit the total number of people living in an apartment to comply with legal overcrowding standards. NY RPL § 235-f.
The landlord may also request all occupants over the age of 18 to complete a rental application form and conduct a tenant background check.
Automatic Lease Renewal: Landlord must give the tenant advance notice of the existence of an auto-renewal clause between 15 and 30 days before the tenant is required to notify the landlord of an intention not to renew the lease. (source)
Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes (N.Y. RPL §§ 235-a)
Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, under some circumstances. (N.Y. RPL §§ 235-b)
Rent control is still in effect in New York City and parts of Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Westchester counties. Rent control applies to apartments built prior to 1947 where the tenant has been living continuously since July 1, 1971.
The goal of rent control is to act as a price ceiling to stop increasing rent rates from pricing people out of the market.
Applies to apartments built prior to 1974 that have more than six units. Newer buildings can voluntarily participate in rent stabilization in exchange for tax exemptions.
The maximum rent increase per year for one- and two-year leases is set by the Rent Guidelines Board, which takes into account real estate costs as well as the current cost of living. For the last ten years, the increases have been between 0% and 4.5% per year.
When you live in a rent-stabilized unit, your landlord is obligated to add your spouse’s name to the lease. You are allowed to have one roommate who is not related to you, but that person has no right to take over your lease if you move out.
The rent stabilized unit does have to be your primary residence. You can sublet your apartment under certain circumstances, but not for more than two out of any four years.
In 2019 there was an overhaul of New York city’s rent control laws, closing several exploitable loopholes. Previously, if any of the following conditions apply, the unit would cease to be rent stabilized:
Tenant Protection Act of 2019 closed these and other loopholes.
Before the 2019 legislation, landlords also could raise the rent up to the market rate between tenants. Now, when a tenant vacates, the rent increase is limited to 20 percent.
As a landlord, you will need to provide the tenant with “reasonable notice” in writing of your intent to enter for reasons such as inspections or repairs. New York state does not stipulate what a “reasonable time” is under these circumstances.
But at least 24 hours is recommended and it does stipulate that reasonable times to enter are interpreted as between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Additionally, when giving your tenant a notice to enter you should include the reason for your requested access.
The rules for New York City are different. “Reasonable notice” in New York city is deemed to be 24-hour notice for an inspection, and one-week notice for repairs.
An exception exists when the landlord must enter the home or apartment in response to an emergency. Emergencies could include a fire or water leak. Under these circumstances, New York courts hold that it is reasonable and in both party’s best interests to allow the landlord to respond immediately to avoid further property damage. Additionally, a landlord can enter the home with less than 24 hours notice or no notice at all if the tenant invites the landlord to enter.
A tenant with a lease is protected from eviction during the lease period so long as the tenant does not violate any substantial provision of the lease or any local housing laws or codes. For both regulated and unregulated apartments, landlords must give formal notice of their intention to obtain legal possession of the apartment. If the tenant does not vacate the premises by the date specified in the notice, the landlord may commence eviction proceedings.
You can read more about the valid reasons for initiating an eviction here: NY RPA § 711.
A tenancy at will or by sufferance, however, created, may be terminated by a written notice of not less than thirty days given by or on behalf of the landlord, to the tenant, requiring them to remove from the premises.
The notice must be served by delivering to the tenant or current occupant or by affixing to the property in a conspicuous place convenient for reading.
If, at the expiration of thirty days the tenant has still not vacated the landlord can proceed with eviction proceedings as laid down by law.
A tenancy by will is a tenancy that is not a periodic tenancy nor for a fixed term, but which lasts for so long as both parties desire.
A tenancy at sufferance is an agreement in which a property renter is legally permitted to live on a property after a lease term has expired but before the landlord demands the tenant vacate the property. If a tenancy at sufferance occurs, the original lease conditions must be met including the payment of any rents.
No notice is needed to terminate a lease with a definite term, outside of New York City. (N.Y. RPL §§ 232-b)
If the landlord wants to raise the rent by 5% or more or not renew the lease, they must let the tenant know further in advance:
If the tenant has occupied the unit for less than one year and does not have a lease term of at least one year, the landlord must give at least thirty days’ notice.
If the tenant has occupied the unit for more than one year but less than two years, or has a lease term of at least one year but less than two years, the landlord must give at least sixty days’ notice.
If the tenant has occupied the unit for more than two years or has a lease term of at least two years, the landlord must give at least ninety days’ notice.
If the landlord fails to give proper notice, the tenancy continues under the existing lease or rental agreement. The required notice period must pass before the rent increase or a non-renewal of tenancy takes effect. These rules apply despite what the lease or rental agreement says.
Notice of Termination of Lease for Nonpayment: 10 days to Remedy or Quit (N.Y. RPL §§ 751(1)).
Notice of Termination for Lease Violation: 10 days to Remedy or Quit (N.Y. RPL §§ 753(4)).
Below you will find references to areas of the New York rules and regulations that govern rental properties and issues related to landlord-tenant law.
This statute highlights New York rules and regulations pertaining to multiple dwelling units.
Landlords in New York State are not required to test for lead ain’t in their properties, nor are they required to allow prospective tenants to do so. However, under Federal law, landlords are required to provide a pamphlet informing occupants about lead. Landlords in New York must also send an annual lead notice between January 1st-15th to all tenants in pre-1960 multiple dwellings or dwellings constructed between 1960-1978 where lead-based paint is known to exist.
The landlord is required to disclose any structural damage, including but not limited to water, fire, smoke, or insect damage and the condition of the roof, and mold.
Landlords are required to disclose certain mechanical services and utilities, including the water source and quality, location of sewers and drainage systems, and any presence of flooding. Such notice shall also be provided by the seller prior to accepting a purchase offer.
Land Sex Offender Registration Act of 1995 was enacted to protect communities by requiring sex offenders to register with the state and providing information to the public about certain sex offenders living in their communities.
The tenant is entitled to this information if requested.
According to the NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act, landlords must notify prospective tenants in writing about any bed bug infestations that have occurred in their building in the past year.
New York requires the foreclosing party to notify tenants of an impending foreclosure through a notice delivered by both certified and first-class mail.
A copy of the rental agreement must be provided to the tenant
The landlord may not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, been involved in a tenant’s organization, or exercised a legal right.
Courts will assume “retaliation” by the landlord if negative action is taken on the tenant within six months after any of the prior tenant actions. NY RPL §§ 223-b.
A landlord who seeks to enforce such a fee, penalty, or charge against a tenant because such tenant files a bona fide complaint with a building code officer regarding the condition shall be liable to the tenant for triple the amount of such fee, penalty, or charge. NY RPL §§ 223-b(5a).
For the most part, the rules and regulations in New York City are the same as at the state level there are a few distinct differences. These differences include notice termination of lease rent control and stabilization and a few variations of the eviction rules.
In New York City, unless the property is protected by some form of rent regulation like rent stabilization or rent control, if the tenant is on a month-to-month rolling tenancy it can be terminated by either party with as little as 1 month or 30 – 90 days notice.
The landlord may legally be allowed to provide less notice if there has been a breach of the lease contract such as failure to pay rent or if the tenant has violated basic responsibilities imposed by law such as stealing drugs within the rental property.
We’ve already talked about rent control and rent stabilization however it’s important to note that rent control limits within the city of New York limit the amount that a property owner can charge for an apartment and the amount in which they can raise the rent.
There are no statewide regulations however rent control regulations do affect various other cities and counties around New York State – see the section above on rent control and rent stabilization.
In New York City, apartments are generally under rent stabilization if they are in buildings:
Landlords with NYC rent-stabilized units must provide tenants written notice of a lease renewal (by mail or personal delivery) between 90-150 days before the renewal.
In New York City, several categories of special housing arrangements exist:
Manufactured and mobile home parks’ owners and tenants are governed by Real Property Law § 233 (“Mobile Homeowner’s Bill of Rights”). The Division of Housing and Community Renewal enforces compliance with this law.
New York City loft owners and tenants are governed by Multiple Dwelling Law, Article 7-C, enforced by the New York City Loft Board. The loft board ensures these residential dwellings are used in a safe and legal manner.
New York City residential hotel owners and tenants are governed by the rent stabilization law, enforced by the DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal).
In New York City, senior citizens benefit from additional protections. A senior citizen may only be affected if the tenant is provided with an equivalent or superior apartment at the same or lower rent in a nearby area.
Under New York state laws there are no required notice periods that landlords have to give before entering premises for maintenance or repairs emergencies or prospective showings. New York City is different according to the New York Attorney General’s office in New York City reasonable notice has is interpreted as at least 24-hour notice for an inspection and one week notice for repairs. There are no legal notice requirements in emergencies or if the tenant invites the landlord into the property.
In New York City if a landlord uses illegal methods to remove a tenant such as cutting off water and power or forcibly evicting them they are subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Additionally, the tenant may also be entitled to restored occupancy.
Another thing to note when it comes to eviction rules in New York City is the eviction limitations regarding rent-stabilized apartments and the eviction protections for senior citizens and disabled persons.
There are additional carbon monoxide requirements in New York City that are not stipulated for the state while in New York City landlords of multiple dwellings including condos cooperatives apartment buildings and one and two Family Homes must provide and install a carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet of every primary entranceway of a sleeping room
Below you’ll find helpful New York landlord-tenant law resources:
This article is designed to convey information, and not to provide legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney for any decision or course of action contemplated.