New York Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on New York landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the New York Landlord Tenant Act.

There are three main types of rental housing in New York:

1. Unregulated Housing (Market Rate Housing)

  • Available on private market, no income limit
  • No restrictions on rent amount and rent increases
  • Less restrictions on lease renewals and evictions
  • Landlords aren't required to provide leases to tenants

2. Regulated Housing (Rent Stabilized Housing)

  • Available on private market, no income limit
  • More restrictions on rent increases and lease renewals
  • More legal protections for tenants

3. Subsidized Housing

  • Tenant has to meet certain requirements (e.g income, age, disability)
  • Government pays part of the rent
  • Examples: Section 8, Mitchell-Lama, NYCHA

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, New York landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of his or her age, sexual orientation, military status, marital status or lawful income source.  N.Y. Executive Law § 296 5.(a)

Landlords must follow the above Fair Housing laws except in the following situations:

1. Dwelling has two or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them OR

2. All rooms in the dwelling are rented out to people of the same sex.

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

New York landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)
  • Terms and conditions for security deposit deductions
  • Whether the property has a sprinkler system  N.Y. RPL § 231-A
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to New York landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • dismiss or limit the landlord 's liability when they have failed in their duties - See Landlord Duties and Responsibilities below  N.Y. GOL § 5-321
  • dismiss or limit the tenant's right to a jury trial in lawsuits where the landlord or tenant is suing the other party for personal injury or property damages  N.Y. RPL § 259-C
  • make the tenant to pledge his or her household furniture as collateral for rent  N.Y. RPL § 231

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Security Deposit

The maximum amount of security deposit that a landlord can collect is one month's rent.  N.Y. GOL § 7-180 (a)

Holding Security Deposit

The landlord cannot combine security deposits with his or her own personal funds.  N.Y. GOL § 7-103 (1)

Landlords of buildings with six or more apartments have to put all security deposits in New York bank accounts earning interest at prevailing rates. The landlord has to inform all tenants of the bank's name, bank's address and deposit amount in writing. The landlord can keep one percent interest and give the remainder to the tenant.  Tenants' Rights Guide: page 8

Deductions and Returns

New York landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions under New York landlord tenant law N.Y. GOL § 7-180 (b) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant
  • Utility bills that tenant owes landlord
  • Moving and storage fees of tenant's abandoned belongings

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the tenant has vacated the property, the landlord must give him or her an itemized list of security deposit deductions and return any remaining deposit within 14 days. If the landlord fails to do, he or she won't be allowed to keep any part of the deposit.  N.Y. GOL § 7-180 (e)

Change of Property Owner

Once the property ownership is transferred, the landlord (previous owner) shall transfer all security deposits and prepaid rents to the new owner within five days.

The previous shall have to inform the tenant (by registered or certified mail) that the deposits and prepaid rents has been transferred to the new owner and what is the new owner's name and address.  NY GOL 7-105

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New York City, New York NY

New York Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Late Rent

There are no New York landlord tenant laws on imposing charges for late rent payments or bounced checks.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Increasing Rent for Regulated Apartments

The Rent Guidelines Board sets the maximum rent increases for rent stabilized apartments every year. If major improvements are made to the rental unit or building, the landlord may ask for additional rent increase.  Tenants' Rights Guide: page 6

For rent stabilized apartments in New York City, the landlord can ask for a maximum of 6% rent increase per year. For rent stabilized apartments outside New York City, the maximum rent increase is capped at 15% per year.

If the tenant pays rent by cash, money order or cashier's check, the landlord must give the tenant a written receipt. This receipt must contain the following:

  • Payment date
  • Payment amount
  • Rent is paid for which period
  • Tenant's signature (after receiving this receipt)  N.Y. RPL § 235-E

Increasing Rent for Unregulated Housing

There are no specific New York landlord tenant laws on increasing rent for market rate housing.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The New York Landlord Tenant Act N.Y. Admin Code § 27-2005 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Lead Paint: Inspect for lead paint hazards and repair them (for housing built before 1978)
  • Smoke Detectors: Provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Security: Install peephole for entrance door. Install chain-door guard for multiple dwellings in New York City
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe  Tenants' Rights Guide: page 19

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

New York landlord tenant law N.Y. Admin Code § 27-2006 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Security: Provide the landlord with a duplicate key after changing locks (if requested)

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord enough amount of time to fix it.

If the landlord fails to make repairs within a reasonable amount of time, the tenant can sue the landlord for a rent reduction. Rent regulated tenants can file a rent reduction complaint with DHCR.  Tenants' Rights Guide: page 18

For urgent situations (e.g. broken door lock), the tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent. The tenant should inform the landlord that he or she intends to fix the problem at the landlord's expense and keep all repair receipts.

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to New York landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities

In the above situations, the landlord should inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.  Tenants' Rights Guide: page 25

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. Otherwise the landlord can obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in.

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to New York landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion

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Subletting

New York landlord tenant law disallows subletting unless the landlord agrees to it in writing.  N.Y. RPL § 226-B

If the tenant is staying in a building with four or more apartments, the landlord will need a valid reason to disallow subletting - See "Rejecting Subtenants" below.

If the landlord allows subletting, the tenant will still be responsible for all lease obligations (including future rent).

If the tenant wants to sublet, he or she will have to send the landlord a written request (by certified mail) with the following information:

  • Start and end date of sublet
  • Name of subtenant
  • Home and business address of subtenant
  • Address of tenant during sublet
  • Written consent of co-tenant or guarantor (if any)
  • Copy of proposed sublease (if any)

For rent stabilized housing, the subtenant cannot be charged more than the stabilized rent amount.  NYCRR § 2525.6 (e)

If the subtenant is overcharged, he or she may file a complaint with DHCR or sue the main tenant to recover the overcharged amount with interest PLUS attorney fees. A rent stabilized tenant can sublet for a maximum of two years during a four year period.

Rejecting Subtenants

If the landlord has a valid reason, he or she can disallow subletting by giving the tenant a written rejection within 30 days. Example of valid reasons include

  • Subtenant's bad credit report or financial standings
  • Subtenant is unwilling to follow existing lease agreement terms
  • Tenant wants to move out for good

If the landlord doesn't give a written rejection within 30 days, it is assumed that the landlord has agreed to sublet.

If the landlord has a valid reason to reject subletting, the tenant cannot sublet or terminate the lease. However if the landlord doesn't have a valid reason, the tenant can proceed to sublet or terminate the lease agreement by giving the landlord a written notice 30 days in advance.

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Buffalo, New York NY

Buffalo, New York NY

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

New York City: For a month to month tenancy, you have to give the other party a written notice to quit at least 30 days in advance.  N.Y. RPL § 232-A

Outside New York City: For a month to month tenancy, you have to give the other party a written notice to quit one month in advance. You won't have to give any notice to quit when a fixed term lease expires.  N.Y. RPL § 232-B

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Landlord rejected subletting without valid reason

30 days

Tenant is 62 years or older

30 days

Tenant or related person is a victim of domestic violence

30 days

Tenant is entering active duty

See below

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Tenant is 62 Years or Older

If the tenant is 62 years or older, he or she can terminate the rental agreement earlier without penalties for the following reasons:

  • A physician has certified that the tenant is no longer able to live alone and has to move in with a family member
  • Tenant is moving to an adult care facility, health care facility, subsidized housing or senior citizen housing   N.Y. RPL § 227-a (1)

The tenant must give the landlord a written notice to quit at least 30 days in advance. This notice must include the following:

  • Termination date
  • Physician's certification stating that the tenant is no longer able to live alone for medical reasons
  • Family member's notarized statement stating that they are related to the tenant and that the tenant will be moving into his or her house for at least six months OR admission document to an adult care facility, health care facility, subsidized housing or senior citizen housing  N.Y. RPL § 227-a (2)

Tenant or Related Person is a Victim of Domestic Violence

If the tenant or tenant's household member is a victim of domestic violence, he or she may terminate the rental agreement earlier without penalties by giving the landlord (and any co-tenants) a written notice 30 days in advance.  N.Y. RPL § 227-C (d)

This notice must state that the tenant or tenant's household member is a victim of domestic violence and it is unsafe for them to remain on the property AND include one of the following documents:

  • Protection order issued by the courts
  • Report from a law enforcement agency showing that the tenant or household member is a victim of domestic violence
  • Report from a health care professional providing treatment related to the domestic violence
  • Sworn or notarized statement by a qualified third party (e.g. attorney, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, registered nurse, therapist, professional counselor, clergy member) showing that the tenant or household member is a victim of domestic violence

Tenant is Entering Active Duty

New York landlord tenant law allows military personnel to terminate a residential lease if BOTH conditions are met:

  • Lease began before the service member entered active service
  • Property has been occupied by the service member or member's dependents  Tenants' Rights Guide: page 15

After military service begins, the tenant can give the landlord a written notice to terminate the lease. If rent is paid monthly, then the lease shall terminate 30 days after the next rent due date. (e.g. If tenant gives notice on 5 Jun and rent is due on 15 Jun, then the lease shall terminate on 15 Jul)  N.Y. Military Law § 310

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire, disasters or unavoidable accidents, the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenancy shall terminate once the tenant moves out.  N.Y. RPL § 227, Tenants' Rights Guide: page 18

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.
   
If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered (by court order or DHCR) based on how much of the property is still livable. The landlord must then repair the damaged areas.

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Eviction

According to New York landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

14 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement

30 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

Once rent is overdue for 5 or more days, the landlord can send the tenant a written rent demand with the following details:

  • Period where rent is overdue
  • Amount of rent overdue
  • Tenant can be evicted if rent is not paid

This rent demand has to be sent by certified mail and give the tenant at least 14 days to pay the rent owed.  N.Y. RPAPL § 751 (1)

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement, the landlord has to give the tenant a written 10 days notice to comply (also known as notice to cure). This first notice has to state what is the tenant's violation and give him or her 10 days to correct it. If the tenant corrects the problem within 10 days, the tenant may stay.

If the tenant fails to correct the problem with 10 days, the landlord shall give the tenant a written 30 day notice to quit (also known as a notice of termination). This second notice has to state that the tenancy is being terminated because the tenant failed to correct the violation and the tenant has 30 days to move out.  N.Y. RPAPL § 753 (4)

Unlawful Eviction

According to New York landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.  N.Y. Admin Code § 26-521

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with unlawful methods, the tenant can sue the landlord for triple damages. In addition, the courts may allow the tenant to continue staying on the property.  N.Y. RPAPL § 853

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Abandonment

There are no specific New York landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

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Resources

New York Landlord Tenant Law: New York Landlord and Tenant Act

New York Landlord Tenant Handbook: Tenants' Rights Guide

Eviction: New York Courts - Evicting a Tenant

Security Deposit: New York Security Deposit Law

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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