Residential Landlord/Tenant Guide
OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
April 1996 edition
Table of Contents
This booklet is designed as a guide to highlight some of the principal
rights, duties and responsibilities of residential landlords and tenants
in this state. These rights, duties and responsibilities are governed by
a variety of state and local laws. In addition, those areas of the state
which are subject to rent stabilization, rent control or other rent regulation,
may have special rules applicable to certain dwellings. For example, rent
stabilization laws apply in New York City and in certain communities in
Nassau, Rockland and Westchester counties. Landlord and tenants are advised
to consult a lawyer regarding particular situations of concern to them.
Apartment Referral Agencies
Businesses that charge a fee for providing information about the location
and availability of rental housing must be licensed by the state. The fees
charged by these firms may not exceed one month's rent. When the information
the firms provide does not result in a rental, the entire amount of any
prepaid fee, less $15.00, must be returned to the tenant. Criminal prosecution
for violations of this law may be brought by the Attorney General. (Real
Property Law, Article 12-C)
Landlords may limit the total number of people living in an apartment to
comply with legal overcrowding standards. (Real Property Law §235-f)
However, it is unlawful for a landlord to restrict occupancy of an apartment
to the named tenant in the lease or to that tenant and immediate family.
When the lease names only one tenant, that tenant may share the apartment
with immediate family, one additional occupant and the occupant's dependent
children, provided that the tenant or the tenant's spouse occupies the premises
as his primary residence.
When the lease names more than one tenant, these tenants may share their
apartment with immediate family, and if one of the tenants named in the
lease moves out, that tenant may be replaced with another occupant and the
dependent children of the occupant. At least one of the tenants named in
the lease or the tenant's spouse must occupy the shared apartment as his
or her primary residence.
Tenants must inform their landlords of the name of any occupant within 30
days after the occupant has moved into the apartment or within 30 days of
landlord's request for this information. If the tenant named in the lease
moves out, the remaining occupant has no right to continue in occupancy
without the landlord's express consent.
Continuation of Utility Service
When the landlord of a multiple dwelling is delinquent in paying utility
bills, the utility must give advance written notice to tenants and to certain
government agencies of its intent to discontinue service. Service may not
be discontinued if tenants pay the landlord's current bill directly to the
utility company. Tenants can deduct these charges from future rent payments.
The Public Service Commission can assist tenants with related problems.
If a landlord of a multiple dwelling fails to pay a utility bill and service
is discontinued, tenants can receive payment damages from the landlord.
(Real Property Law §235-a; Public Service Law §33)
In the absence of discrimination, landlords may refuse to rent to anyone.
Landlords may not refuse to lease accommodations to or renew leases of,
or otherwise discriminate against, any person or group of persons because
of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, marital status
or familial status. (Executive Law §296 (5)) The New York State Attorney
General's office enforces the states anti-discrimination laws.
Landlords may not refuse to lease an apartment or discriminate against any
person in the terms and conditions of the rental because that person has
children living with them. An aggrieved family may bring a lawsuit for damages
and for an injunction against a landlord who violates this law. (Real Property
Law §236) In addition, a lease may not require that tenants agree to
remain childless during tenancy. (Real Property Law §237)
In New York City, landlords may not refuse to lease an apartment solely
for residential purposes or discriminate in the terms and conditions of
the rental because of a person's lawful occupation, sexual orientation or
immigration status. Aggrieved tenants may complain to the New York City
Human Rights Commission. (NYC Admin. Code §8-107(5)(a)) Outside New
York City you can contact the New York State Division of Human Rights. (Executive
Duty of Repair
Landlords of buildings with three or more apartments must keep the
apartments and buildings public areas in "good repair" and clean
and free of vermin, garbage or other offensive material. Electrical, plumbing,
sanitary, heating, ventilating systems and appliances landlords install,
such as refrigerator and stoves, must be maintained by them in good and
safe working order. [ Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL) §78 and §80;
Multiple Residence Law (MRL) § 174. The MDL applies to cities with
a population of 325,000 or more and the MRL applies to cities with less
There must be a mirror in each self-service elevator in multiple dwellings
so that people may see -- prior to entering-- if anyone is already in the
elevator. (Multiple Dwelling Law §51-b; NY Admin. Code §27-2042)
Entrance Door Locks and Intercoms
Multiple dwellings which were built or converted to such use after January
1, 1968 must have automatic self-closing and self-locking doors at all entrances.
These doors must be kept locked at all times -- except when an attendant
is on duty.
If this type of building contains eight or more apartments it must also
have a two-way voice intercom system from each apartment to the front door
and tenants must be able to "buzz" open the entrance door for
Multiple dwellings built or converted to such use prior to January 1, 1968
also must have self-locking doors and a two-way intercom system if requested
by a majority of the tenants. Landlords may recover from tenants the cost
of providing this equipment (Multiple Dwelling Law §50-a)
Following appropriate notice, a landlord may bring a summary non-payment
court proceeding to evict a tenant who fails to pay the agreed rent when
due and to recover outstanding rent. A Landlord may also bring a summary
holdover eviction proceeding if, for example, a tenant significantly violates
a substantial obligation under the lease, such as using the premises for
illegal purposes, committing or permitting a nuisance, or staying beyond
the lease term without permission. (RPAPL §711)
Only a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out a court ordered warrant
to evict a tenant. (RPAPL §749) A landlord may not take the law into
his/her own hands and evict a tenant by use of force or unlawful means.
For example, a landlord cannot use threats of violence, remove a tenant's
possessions, lock the tenant out of the apartment, or willfully discontinue
essential services such as water or heat. (Real Property Law §235)
When a tenant is evicted, the landlord may not retain the tenant's personal
belongings or furniture.
A tenant who is put out of his/her apartment in a forcible or unlawful manner
is entitled to recover triple damages in a legal action against the wrongdoer.
Landlords in New York City who use illegal methods to force a tenant to
move are also subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Further, the
tenant is entitled to be restored to occupancy. (RPAPL §713, §853)
Heat must be supplied from October 1 through May 31, to tenants in multiple
dwellings if: a) the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit,
between the hours of 10 P.M. and 6 A.M., each apartment must be heated to
a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit; b) the outdoor temperature
falls below 40 degrees fahrenheit, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,
each apartment must be heated to a temperature of at least 55 degrees fahrenheit
(Multiple Dwelling Law §79)
Individual Locks, Peepholes and Mail
Tenants in multiple dwellings can install and maintain their own locks on
their apartment entrance doors in addition to the lock supplied by the landlord.
The lock may be no more than three inches in circumference, and tenants
must provide their landlord with a duplicate key upon request. (Multiple
Law §51-c; NY Admin. Code §27-2043)
The Landlord must provide a peephole in the entrance door of each apartment.
Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must also install a chain-door
guard on the entrance door to each apartment, so as to permit partial opening
of the door. (Multiple Dwelling Law §51-a; NY Admin. Code §27-2041)
United States Postal Regulations require landlords of buildings containing
three or more apartments to provide secure mail boxes for each apartment
unless the management has arranged to distribute the mail to each apartment.
Landlords must keep the mail boxes and locks in good repair.
Landlord's Right of Entry
A landlord may enter a tenant's apartment with reasonable prior notice,
and at a reasonable time: (a) to provide necessary or agreed upon repairs
or services; or (b) in accordance with the lease; or (c) to show the apartment
to prospective purchasers or tenants. In emergencies, such as fires, the
landlord may enter the apartment without the tenant's consent.
Landlords of apartments in multiple dwellings in New York City where a child
6 years or younger lives must protect against the possibility that children
will be poisoned by peeling paint containing dangerous lead based paint.
Landlords must remove or cover lead based paint which is peeling on apartment
walls and other areas. The law presumes that lead based paint was used in
the apartment if the structure was built prior to January 1, 1960. (NYC
Health Code §173.14)
A lease is a contract between a landlord and tenant which contains the terms
and conditions of rental. It cannot be changed while it is in effect unless
both parties agree. Rent stabilized tenants have the right to either a one
or two year lease when they move into an apartment. Leases for apartments
which are not rent stabilized may be oral or written. However, to avoid
disputes, the parties may wish to enter into a written agreement. An oral
lease for more than one year cannot be legally enforced. (General Obligation
At a minimum, leases should specify the names and addresses of the parties,
the amount and due dates of the rent, the duration of the rental, the conditions
of occupancy and the rights and obligations of both parties. Except where
the law provides otherwise, a landlord may rent on such terms and conditions
as are agreed to by the parties.
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 read easily. (General Obligations Law §5-702;
Unless the lease states otherwise, the apartment must be made available
to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy. If the apartment is not available
when agreed, the tenant has the right to cancel the lease and obtain a full
refund of any deposit. (Real Property Law §223-a)
Lease provisions which exempt landlords from liability for injuries to persons
or property caused by the landlord's negligence -- or that of his employees
-- are null and void. Further, a lease provision that waives the right to
a jury trial in any lawsuit brought by either of the parties against the
other for personal injury or property damage is also null and void. (General
Obligations Law §5-321; Real Property Law §259-c)
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 lease provision which
requires a tenant to pledge his/her household furniture as security for
rent is void. (Real Property Law §231)
Where a lease provides for reasonable attorneys' fees to a landlord, a prevailing
tenant may also recover such fees. (Real Property Law §234)
New York rent stabilized tenants are entitled to receive from their landlords
a fully executed copy of their signed lease within 30 days of the landlord's
receipt of the lease signed by the tenant. The lease's beginning and ending
dates must be stated. (RSC §2522.5)
Lease Succession Rights
Family members living in an apartment not covered by rent control or rent
stabilization generally have no right to succeed a tenant who dies or permanently
vacates the premises. The rights of a "family member" living in
a rent controlled or stabilized apartment to succeed a tenant of record
who dies or permanently vacates are covered by DHCR Regulations. Under these
regulations, a "family member" is defined as husband, wife, son,
daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother,
brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, grandson,
granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law or daughter-in-law
of the tenant; or any other person residing with the tenant in the apartment
as a primary residence who can prove emotional and financial commitment,
and interdependence between such person and the tenant.
A family member, as defined, would succeed to the rights of the tenant of
record upon the tenant's permanent departure or death, provided the family
member lived with such a primary resident either (1) for not less than 2
years (one year in the case of senior citizens who are 62 year or older,
and disabled persons), or (2) from the commencement of the tenancy or the
relationship (if the tenancy or relationship were less than two years or
one year old, as the case may be).
Lease Terminations for Military Personnel
Individuals entering or called to active duty in the military service may
terminate a residential lease if (1) the lease was executed by the service
member before he /she entered active duty; and (2) the leased premises have
been occupied by the member or his/her dependents. Any such lease may be
terminated by written notice delivered to the landlord at any time following
the beginning of military service. Termination of a lease requiring monthly
payments is not effective until 20 days after the first date on which the
next rent is due subsequent to the date when the notice of termination is
delivered. For example, if rent is due on the first day of the month, and
notice is mailed on January 1, then rent is next due on the first of February
and the effective date of lease termination is the first of March. (NY Military
Lobby Attendant Service
Tenants of multiple dwellings with eight or more apartments, are entitled
to maintain a lobby attendant service for their safety and security, whenever
any attendant provided by the landlord is not on duty. (Multiple Dwelling
Tenants who do not have leases and pay rent on a monthly basis are called
month-to-month tenants. In localities without rent regulation, tenants who
stay past the end of a lease are treated as month-to-month tenants if the
landlord accepts their rent. (Real Property Law §232-c)
A month-to-month tenancy outside New York City may be terminated by either
party by giving at least one month's notice before the expiration of the
term. For example, if the rent is due on the first of each month, the landlord
must inform the tenant by September 30th before the October rent is due
that he wants the tenant to move out by November 1st. The termination notice
need not specify why the landlord seeks possession of the apartment. Such
notice does not automatically allow the landlord to evict the tenant. A
landlord may raise the rent of a month-to-month tenant with the consent
of the tenant. However, if the tenant does not consent, the landlord can
terminate the tenancy by giving appropriate notice (Real Property Law §232-b)
In New York City, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written termination
giving 30 days notice before the expiration of the term. The notice must
state that the landlord elects to terminate the tenancy and that refusal
to vacate will lead to eviction proceedings. (Real Property Law §232-a)
Tenants in oil heated multiple dwellings may contract with an oil dealer,
and pay for oil deliveries to their building, when the landlord fails to
ensure a sufficient fuel supply. These payments are deductible from rent.
Local housing officials have lists of oil dealers who will make fuel deliveries
under these circumstances. (Multiple Dwelling Law §302-c; Multiple
Residence Law §305-c)
Tenants may keep pets in their apartments if their lease permits pets or
is silent on the subject. Landlords may be able to evict tenants who violate
a lease provision prohibiting pets. In multiple dwellings in New York City,
a "no pet" lease clause is deemed waived where a tenant "openly
and notoriously" kept a pet for at least three months and the owner
of the building or his agent had knowledge of this fact. However, this protection
does not apply where the animal causes damage, is a nuisance or substantially
interferes with other tenants. (NYC Admin. Code §27-2009.1) Tenants
who are blind or deaf are permitted to have guide dogs regardless of a no-pet
clause in their lease. (Civil Rights Law §47)
Real Estate Brokers
A consumer may retain a real estate broker to find a suitable apartment.
The state licenses real estate brokers and salespersons. Brokers charge
a commission for their services which is usually a stated percentage of
the first year's rent. The amount of the commission is not set by law and
should be negotiated between the parties. The broker must assist the client
in finding and obtaining an apartment before a commission may be charged.
The fee should not be paid until the client is offered a lease signed by
the landlord. Complaints against real estate brokers may be brought to the
attention of the New York Department of State. (Real Property Law, Article
Except for rent regulated apartments, a tenant may only renew the lease
with the consent of the landlord. A lease may contain an automatic renewal
clause. In such case, the landlord must give the tenant advance notice of
the existence of this clause between 15 and 30 days before the tenant is
required to notify the landlord of an intention not to renew the lease.
(General Obligations Law §5-905)
Rent stabilized tenants have a right to renew their leases except under
certain circumstances, for example, when the apartment is not used as the
tenant's primary residence. The renewal leases for rent stabilized tenants
must be on the same terms and conditions as the prior lease but may provide
for a rent increase according to rates permitted by the Rent Guidelines
Board. Rent stabilized tenants may choose either a one-year or a two-year
renewal lease. For New York City rent stabilized tenants, the landlord must
give written notice to the tenant of the right to renewal no more than 150
days and not less than 120 days prior to the end of the lease. After the
notice of renewal is given , the tenant has 60 days in which to accept.
If the tenant does not accept the renewal offer within the prescribed time,
the landlord may refuse to renew the lease and seek to evict the tenant
through court proceedings.
Where an apartment is not subject to rent stabilization or rent control
or other rent regulation, a landlord is free to charge any rent agreed upon
by the parties. If the apartment is subject to such rent regulation, the
rent and subsequent rent increases are set by law. A tenant may challenge
the regulated rent with the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
(DHCR). If the challenge is upheld, DHCR will order a refund of any overcharges
plus interest and, where appropriate, it may assess penalties.
Landlords of rent stabilized buildings may seek rent increases for certain
types of building-wide major capital improvements (MCI), such as the replacement
of a boiler, and for new services, new equipment or improvements to an apartment
in accordance with the law and regulations. Under certain circumstances,
a landlord may also apply for a hardship rent increase.
Landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt when rent is paid
in cash, a money order, a cashier's check or in any form other than personal
check of a tenant. Where a tenant pays the rent by personal check, (s)he
may request in writing a rent receipt from the landlord. The receipt must
state the payment date, the amount , the period for which the rent was paid,
and the apartment number. The receipt must be signed by the person receiving
the payment and state his or her title. (Real Property Law §235-e)
It is illegal for any person to require a prospective tenant to pay a bonus
-- commonly called "key money" -- above the lawful rent and security
deposit -- for preference in renting a vacant apartment (Penal Law §180.54
et seq.) Key money is not to be confused with fees that may be legally charged
by a licensed real estate broker. (See the section below on "Real Estate
Rent Security Deposits
Virtually all leases require tenants to give their landlords a security
deposit. The security deposit is usually one month's rent. The landlord
must return the security deposit, less any lawful deduction, to the tenant
at the end of the lease or within a reasonable time thereafter. A landlord
may use the security deposit: (a) as reimbursement for the reasonable cost
of repairs beyond normal wear and tear, if the tenant damages the apartment;
or (b) as reimbursement for any unpaid rent.
Landlords, regardless of the number of units in the building must treat
the deposits as trust funds belonging to their tenants and they may not
co-mingle deposits with their own money. Landlords of buildings with six
or more apartments must put all security deposits in New York bank accounts
earning interest at the prevailing rate. Each tenant must be informed in
writing of the bank's name and address and the amount of the deposit. Landlords
are entitled to annual administrative expenses of 1% of the deposit. All
other interest earned on the deposits belong to the tenants. Tenants must
be given the option of having this interest paid to them annually, applied
to rent, or paid at the end of the lease term. If the building has fewer
than six apartments, a landlord who voluntarily places the security deposits
in an interest bearing account must also follow these rules.
For example: A tenant pays a security deposit of $400.00. The landlord places
the deposit in an interest bearing account paying 2.5%. At the end of the
year the account will have earned interest of $10.00. The tenant is entitled
to $6.00 and the land lord may retain $4.00, 1% of the deposit, as an administrative
If the building is sold, the landlord must transfer all security deposits
to the new owner within five days, or return the security deposits to the
tenants. Landlords must notify the tenants, by registered or certified mail,
of the name and address of the new owner. Purchasers of rent stabilized
buildings are directly responsible to tenants for the return of security
deposits and interest. This responsibility exists whether or not the new
owner received the security deposits from the former landlord.
Purchasers or rent-controlled buildings or buildings containing six or more
apartments where tenants have written leases are directly responsible to
tenants for the return of security deposits and interest in cases where
the purchaser has "actual knowledge" of the security deposits.
The law defines specifically when a new owner is deemed to have "actual
knowledge" of the security deposits.
When problems arise, tenants should first try to resolve them with the landlord
before taking other action. If a dispute cannot be resolved, tenants may
contact local office of the Attorney General, Listed at the end of this
booklet. (General Obligations Law, Article 7)
Landlords may not seek to evict tenants solely because tenants (a) make
good faith complaints to a government agency about violations of any health
or safety laws; or (b) take good faith actions to protect rights under their
lease; or (c) participate in tenants' organizations. Tenants may collect
damages from landlords who violate this law, which applies to all rentals
except owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units. (Real Property
Tenants who are victims of crimes in their building or apartment, and who
are able to prove that the criminal took advantage of the landlord's failure
to make the building reasonably safe, may be able to recover personal and
property damages from the landlord.
Senior Citizen Lease Termination
Tenants or their spouses living with them, who are sixty-two years or older,
or who will attain such age during the term of their leases, are entitled
to terminate leases if they relocate to an adult care facility, a residential
health care facility, subsidized low income housing, or other senior citizen
When such tenants give notice of their opportunity to move into one of the
above facilities, the landlord must release the tenant from liability to
pay rent from the early termination of the lease to the leases original
end date and to adjust any payments made in advance.
Senior citizens who wish to avail themselves of this option must do so by
written notice to the landlord. The termination date must be effective no
earlier than thirty days after the date on which the next rental payment
(after the notice is delivered) is due. The notice is deemed delivered five
days after mailing. The written notice must include documentation of admission
or pending admission to one of the above mentioned facilities. For example,
a senior citizen mails a notice to the landlord of his or her intention
to terminate the lease on April 5; the notice is deemed received April 10.
Since the next rental payment (after April 10) is due May 1, the earliest
lease termination date will be effective June 1.
Anyone who interferes with the tenant's or his or her spouse's removal of
personal effects, clothing, furniture, or other personal property from the
premises to be vacated will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Owners or lessors of a facility or a unit into which a senior citizen is
entitled to move after terminating a lease, must advise such tenant, in
the admission application form, of the tenant's rights under the law. (Real
Property Law §227-a)
Outside New York City and in Buffalo, each apartment in a multiple dwelling
(three or more apartments) must be equipped by the landlord with at least
one smoke detector that is clearly audible in any sleeping area. (Multiple
Residence Law §15; Buffalo Code, Ch. 395)
Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must also install one or
more approved smoke detectors in each apartment near each room used for
sleeping. Tenants may be asked to reimburse the owner up to $10.00 for the
cost of purchasing and installing each battery-operated detector. Tenants
should test their detectors frequently to make sure they are working properly.
(NY Admin. Code§27-2045, §27-2446)
Special Types of Housing
The rights, duties and responsibilities of Mobile Home Parks' owners and
tenants are governed by Real Property Law §233, popularly known as
the "Mobile Home Owners Bill of Rights". The DHCR has the authority
to enforce compliance with this law.
The rights, duties and responsibilities of New York City residential hotel
owners and tenants are governed by the rent stabilization law. The DHCR
has the authority to enforce compliance with this law.
Subletting or Assigning Leases
A sublet transfers less than the tenant's entire interest while an assignment
transfers the entire interest. A tenant's right to assign the lease is much
more restricted that the right to sublet.
A tenant may not assign the lease without the landlord's written consent.
The landlord may withhold consent without cause. If the landlord reasonably
refuses consent, the tenant cannot assign and is not entitled to be released
from the lease. If the landlord unreasonably refuses consent, the tenant
is entitled to be released from the lease after 30 days notice.
Tenants with leases who live in buildings with four or more apartments have
the right to sublet with the landlord's advance consent. The landlord cannot
unreasonably withhold consent. If the landlord consents to the sublet, the
tenant remains liable to the landlord for the obligations of the lease.
If the landlord denies the sublet on reasonable ground, the tenant cannot
sublet and the landlord is not required to release the tenant from the lease.
If the landlord denies the sublet on unreasonable grounds, the tenant may
sublet. If a lawsuit results, the tenant may recover court costs and attorney's
fees if a judge rules that the landlord denied the sublet in bad faith.
These steps must be followed by tenants wishing to sublet:
1. The tenant must send a written request to the landlord by certified mail,
return receipt requested. The request must contain the following information:
(a) the length of the sublease; (b) the name, home and business address
of the proposed subtenant; (c) the reason for subletting; (d) the tenant's
address during the sublet; (e) the written consent of any co-tenant or guarantor;
and (f) a copy of the proposed sublease together with a copy of the tenant's
own lease, if available.
2. Within 10 days after the mailing of this request, the landlord may ask
the tenant for additional information to help make a decision. Any request
for additional information may not be unduly burdensome.
3. Within 30 days after the mailing of the tenant's request to sublet or
the additional information requested by the landlord, whichever is later,
the landlord must send the tenant a notice of consent, or if consent is
denied, the reasons for denial. A landlord's failure to send this written
notice is considered a consent to sublet.
4. A sublet or assignment which does not comply with the law may be grounds
In addition to these sublet rules, there are additional requirements
limited to rent stabilized tenants. These rules include the following:
a) The rent charged to the subtenant cannot exceed the stabilized rent plus
a 10% surcharge to the tenant for a furnished sublet. Additionally, the
stabilized rent payable to the owner, effective upon the date of subletting,
may be increased by a "sublet allowance". A subtenant who is overcharged
may file a complaint with DHCR or may sue the prime tenant in court to recover
any overcharge plus treble damages, interest, and attorneys' fees. (RSC
b) The prime tenant must establish that at all times he/she has maintained
the apartment as a primary residence and intends to reoccupy it at the end
of the sublet.
c) The prime tenant, not the subtenant, retains the rights to a renewal
lease and any rights resulting from a co-op conversion.
The term of a sublease may extend beyond the term of the prime tenant's
lease. The tenant may not sublet for more than two years within any four-year
period. (Real Property Law §226-b, RSC §2525.6)
Tenants have a legal right to organize. They may form, join, and participate
in tenants' organizations for the purpose of protecting their rights. Landlords
may not harass or penalize tenants who exercise this right. Tenants' groups
have the right to meet in any common area in their building, at no cost,
in a peaceful manner, at reasonable hours without obstructing access to
the premises or facilities. (Real Property Law §230)
Truth in Heating
Before signing a lease requiring payment of individual heating and cooling
bills prospective tenants are entitled to receive from the landlord, a complete
set or summary of the past two years' bills. These copies must be provided
free upon written request. (Energy Law §17-103)
Warranty of Habitability
Tenants are entitled to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment. Lease provisions
inconsistent with this right are illegal. Failure to provide heat or hot
water on a regular basis, or to rid an apartment of insect infestation are
examples of a violation of this warranty. Public areas of the building are
also covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability
also applies to cooperative apartments but not to condominiums. Any uninhabitable
condition caused by the misconduct of the tenant or persons under his direction
or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability.
In such case, the tenant must remedy the condition or reimburse the landlord
for the reasonable cost of repair. (Real Property Law §235-b)
If a landlord breaches the warranty, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction.
The tenant may also withhold rent, but in response, the landlord may sue
the tenant for nonpayment of rent. In such case, the tenant may countersue
for breach of the warranty.
Rent reductions may be ordered if a court finds that the landlord violated
the warranty of habitability. The reduction is computed by subtracting from
the actual rent the estimated value of the apartment without the essential
A landlord's liability for damages is limited when the failure to provide
services is the result of a union-wide building workers' strike. However,
a court may award damages to a tenant equal to a share of the landlord's
net savings because of the strike. Landlords will be liable for lack of
services caused by the strike when they have not made good faith attempt,
where practicable, to provide services.
Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must install government
approved window guards in each window in any apartment where a child ten
years old or younger lives. Tenants are required to have such guards installed.
In other cases, landlords are required to install window guards provided
the tenant requests them. Windows giving access to fire escapes are excluded.
Protective guards must also be installed on windows of all public hallways.
Landlords must give tenants an annual notice about rights to window guards
and must provide this information in a lease rider. Rent controlled and
stabilized tenants may be charged for these guards. (NYC Health Code §131.15)
This booklet was written by Stephen Mindell, Assistant Attorney General,
under the supervision of Shirley F. Sarna, Assistant Attorney General in
Charge, Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. (Revised April, 1996).
NEW YORK STATE DIVISION
OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL (DHCR)
The entire rent regulatory system is administered by the State Division
of Housing and Community Renewal, Office of Rent Administration. Their offices
are listed below;
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, New York 11433
119 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 11210
District Rent Offices
156 William Street - 9th Fl.
New York, New York 10038
(South side of 110th Street and below)
State Office Building
163 West 125th Street-5th Fl.
New York, NY 10027
(North side of 110th Street and below)
One Fordham Plaza-Suite 210
Bronx, NY 10458
55 Hanson Place-7th Fl.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, New York 11433
60 Bay Street - 7th Floor
Staten Island, New York 10301
50 Clinton Street
6th Fl.- Room 605
Hempstead, NY 11550
55 Church Street-3rd Fl.
White Plains, NY 10601
Ellicott Square Bldg.
295 Main Street, Rm 446
Buffalo, NY 14203
38-40 State Street
Albany, NY 12207
Rent Stabilization & Rent Control
156 William Street
New York, NY 10038
94-96 North Main Street
Spring Valley, NY 10977
P.O. Box 1127
Syracuse, New York 13201-1127
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S INFORMATION & COMPLAINT LINE:
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICES
Albany, New York 12224 (518) 474-5481
New York, NY 10271 (212) 416-8345
44 Hawley Street, 17 FL
Binghamton, New York 13901-4433
234 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
65 Court Street
Buffalo, New York 14202
144 Exchange Boulevard
Rochester, New York 14614
300 Motor Parkway
Hauppauge, New York 11788
615 Erie Boulevard West
Syracuse, New York 13204
211 Station Road, 6th Fl.
Mineola, New York 11501
207 Greene Street, Rm. 508
Utica, New York 13501
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
State Office Building
163 West 125th Street
New York, NY 10027
317 Washington Street
Watertown, New York 13601
70 Clinton Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901
19 Court Street, Suite 200
White Plains, New York, 10601