Do you own and rent properties in New York? If so, you’re subject to a group of laws that govern the relationships between you and your tenants: New York state landlord tenant laws.
These laws regulate many different aspects of leasing, from rental agreements to rent and security deposits to evictions. Before you can enforce any policies you lay out in your lease agreements, you must ensure your policies are compliant with local laws. If you don’t take the time to learn and understand these laws now, you could face severe consequences, including fines, lawsuits, and other penalties.
So which New York laws do you need to know if you’re a landlord in the state? In this article, we’ll go through an overview of the most important landlord-tenant laws to know in the state of New York.
Required disclosures are notices or information that a landlord is required to provide a tenant in the lease agreement before the tenant signs. Landlord disclosure requirements often inform tenants about possible environmental contaminants, certain policies in the agreement, laws or remedies they should know, or certain aspects of the property’s history.
In New York, there are eight required disclosures:
- Lead-based paint – Federally-regulated information about the hazards of lead paint
- Security deposit receipt – The name/address of the bank where you keep deposits
- Bedbugs – A form that records any history of bedbug infestation in the unit
- Sprinklers – Whether a sprinkler system exists in the unit and when it was last inspected
- Indoor air contamination – Results of poor air quality if you’ve received any
- Certificate of occupancy – For landlords who own less than three units, a copy of the certificate of occupancy
- Reasonable accommodations – An explanation of tenants’ rights to request reasonable modifications and accommodations for disabilities
- Source of income rights – Information about tenants’ rights and remedies regarding income discrimination and Section 8 housing choice vouchers
Rent, Fees, and Security Deposits
Unfortunately for landlords, several municipalities in New York have active rent control ordinances. This is because the state has several cities with extremely high rent rates – the average rent price New York Is $1,695 per month, while the average rent price Manhattan reports exceeds $5,000. Rent control laws help keep rates reasonable for tenants.
Even in cities where rent is not regulated, rent increases greater than 5% require advanced notice: 60 days’ for 1–2-year tenancies and 90 days’ for tenancies greater than two years is required.
Here are some other laws about fees and deposits in New York that you should know:
- E-payments: You cannot require tenants to pay rent electronically.
- Application fees: These are prohibited in New York, excepting a fee to reimburse the exact cost of background and credit checks up to $20.
- Late fees: Limited to $50 or 5% of the rent, whichever is lesser.
- Grace period: There is a 5-day mandatory grace period for rent.
- Security Deposits:
- You cannot charge a security deposit greater than 1 month’s rent.
- Interest must be paid to tenants on security deposits for properties with 6+ units.
- Deposits must be kept in a separate bank account and returned within 14 days of the tenancy’s termination.
Fair Housing Protections
Federal law protects tenants in all 50 states from discrimination based on seven protected classes: race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability. However, the state of New York provides several additional protections. It is illegal to discriminate against renters based on their membership in any of the following classes:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Marital status
- Military status
- Source of income
- Status as a victim of domestic violence
Depending on the location of your properties, there may also be local laws that restrict the use of criminal background checks to deny rental applicants. To avoid a fair housing lawsuit, the HUD generally advises landlords to avoid blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions and instead assess applicants’ criminal histories on a case-by-case basis.
Evictions are one of the most highly regulated aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship. Evictions in New York are no different. This article won’t discuss the entire New York eviction process, but a good start is understanding the three possible eviction notice periods:
- If rent is late, you must send a 14-day notice to pay or quit.
- If the tenant has violated another lease term, you must send a 30-day notice to cure or quit.
- If the tenant engages in illegal activity on the premises, you may send an immediate notice to quit.
Notice that the first two of these three notices can be “cured” by the tenant within the notice period to avoid eviction.
Landlords who rent properties in New York have a lot going for them: rents are generally high, and there will always be high demand for rentals in and around NYC. However, there are a lot of restrictions in New York regarding landlord-tenant relationships, and it’s essential that you’re aware of these before enforcing your rental policies.