6 Important Landlord-Tenant Laws in New York City

Tenant Check November 14, 2019
Colorful façades in Slope Park in the district of Brooklyn in New York, USA
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6 Important Landlord-Tenant Laws in New York City

Owning or managing rental property in New York City can be a complicated business. With landlord-tenant laws in flux regularly, it is key to know what legislation impacts your building. New York state has its own limitations for landlords, but let’s dig into what you need to know if your property is in Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, or Staten Island.

Discrimination

Across the US it is illegal to discriminate against applicants or tenants for their race, color, nation of origin, sex, disability, age, marital status, and familial status. Because of the ever-growing diversity of the nation, New York City also prohibits landlords from discriminating based on the following:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Partnership status
  • Immigration status
  • People with AIDS or HIV-positive
  • Recovering alcoholics
  • Lawful source of income
    • Social security
    • Federal, state, or local assistance
    • Section 8 vouchers

Rent Stabilization

Rent stabilization in NYC is one of the key pieces of legislation implemented to protect tenants. Due to the nature of rentals and NYC’s varying neighborhoods, these laws come with their own complications. It impacts the renewals of leases, eviction, rent increases, and termination of leases. Many resources are available to find out if your building is rent-stabilized. Two things to remember if you are the landlord for a rent-stabilized building:

  • Written notice of the right to renewal must be provided by mail or personal delivery
  • This must happen between 150 and 90 days before the existing lease expires

If your tenant is on a month-to-month lease, you must provide 30 days’ notice, not one month for termination of a lease.
The New York City Rent Guidelines Board is a valuable resource for all of your rent stabilization questions.

Housing Violations

New York City uses a helpful classification system to determine when housing violations must be remedied.

  • Class A – 90 days to remedy (Non-hazardous), examples include:
    • No street number on the front of the residence
    • Unlawfully keeping pigeons, chickens, etc.
  • Class B – 30 days to remedy (Hazardous), examples include:
    • Inadequate lighting in public halls or stairs
    • Missing or unapproved smoke detector
  • Class C – Immediate-21 days to remedy (Immediately hazardous), examples include:
    • Lack of heat or hot water – Immediate
    • Rodent or insect infestation – 21 days

Heat Season

Not having access to heat or hot water is a serious violation in NYC. Even when considered a hazard that must be remedied immediately (Class C), there is further legislation on what temperature residences must maintain consistently throughout the year:

  • Oct 1 – May 31: heat must be provided
  • During the day if it is below 55℉ outside it must be 68℉ inside
  • At night it must be 62℉ inside, regardless of outside temperature
  • All apartments must have hot water 24/7/365

Rent Freeze Program

In addition to rent stabilization laws, New York City offers an additional Rent Freeze Program to tenants who meet certain criteria. These criteria include having an annual income of less than $50,000 and spending more than one-third of your income on rent. Market-rate housing and certain low-income apartments aren’t eligible for this program. If you apply and meet all eligibility requirements, your landlord is obligated to honor it.

“No-Pet” Lease Clause

Pets are a contentious issue for almost all landlords. In some parts of New York City and Westchester County, “no-pet” clauses are waived when the owner or landlord of the property has knowledge of the animal. The tenant has to have had the pet “open and notoriously” for at least three months. This waiver does not apply to cases where the animal has caused damage to the property, is a nuisance, interferes with other tenants, or is living in public housing.