Landlords in New York must abide by particular state regulations, such as those governing minimum security deposit amounts and tenancy termination procedures. Landlords in New York are also impacted by a number of federal laws, such as those requiring them to report lead-based paint dangers. Additionally, if you hold rental property in New York that is subject to either rent control or rent stabilization, your rental property business is subject to a number of extra regulations. If you choose renters in an unlawfully discriminatory manner, for instance, failing to uphold your legal obligations could result in pricey legal fights with tenants and severe financial fines. In this post, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline top landlord legal responsibilities in New York.
Comply With Anti-Discrimination Laws
It is essential that you comprehend fair housing regulations and what you can say and do when choosing tenants before you market a vacant property. This covers the way you market a rental, the inquiries you make on a rental application or during tenant interviews, and how you handle people who rent from you. Failure to understand and abide by the law may lead to expensive discrimination claims and legal actions. While it is permissible for New York landlords to reject applicants based on poor credit history, unfavorable references from prior landlords, past behavior, such as a pattern of late rent payments, or other criteria that make them a terrible risk, this does not imply that anything passes. You are not permitted to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their race, religion, national origin, sex, familial situation (such as having children under the age of 18), or physical or mental impairment.
According to the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S. Code 3601-3619 and 3631), these are “protected categories.” Federal anti-discrimination laws have a few exceptions, including those for single-family homes and owner-occupied structures with fewer than four units—so long as the owner doesn’t simultaneously hold more than three rental properties. (Some of these exceptions are, however, restricted by New York State fair housing rules.)
A person’s sexual orientation or marital status cannot be used as grounds for discrimination in New York state law. Discrimination based on gender identity is prohibited in some cities, including New York City (as well as sexual orientation).
The HUD website provides details on fair housing laws, as does the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office.
Meet State Security Deposit Limits and Return Rules
One of the most frequent topics of contention between landlords and tenants is security deposits. Make sure you are aware of any New York regulations that may apply to your property in order to avoid issues, such as interest requirements. It will help to minimize conflicts if a renter uses a landlord-tenant checklist when moving into (and out of) a property and sends a documented security deposit itemization when they move out.
Follow State Rent Rules
All landlords desire hassle-free, on-time rent payments from their renters. Particularly if you own rental property in New York City or other towns with rent control or rent stabilization, you’ll want to make sure you follow the specific rules and procedures in New York if you need to raise the rent or evict a tenant who hasn’t paid rent.
Provide Habitable Housing
According to a legal principle known as the “implied warranty of habitability,” you are expected by law to maintain rental properties in New York in a livable condition. Tenants in New York may have a number of choices, such as the right to “fix and deduct” or the ability to withhold rent, if you don’t take care of necessary repairs, like a broken furnace.
Prepare a Legal Written Lease or Rental Agreement
The rental agreement or lease that you and your renter sign outlines the legal grounds for your connection with the tenant and is packed with vital commercial information, including the length of time the tenant may occupy the rental and the rent due. Your lease or rental agreement outlines all the legal requirements that you and your tenant must adhere to, along with any applicable federal, state, and local landlord-tenant legislation.
Problems occur when landlords fail to make legally needed disclosures or when they add unlawful conditions in the lease, such as a waiver of the landlord’s obligation to keep the property habitable (discussed in the next section). Using a strong, legal lease and rental agreement that clearly outlines tenants’ obligations and rights will help you avoid all types of issues, even if it’s not necessary to address a specific issue, such as when and how you can enter the rented property.
Don’t Retaliate Against a Tenant Who Exercises a Legal Right
In New York, it is unlawful to take revenge, such as by trying to raise the rent or evicting a tenant for raising concerns about a hazardous living situation. Establish a solid paper trail to prove how you manage repairs and other critical details of your relationship with your renter to avoid issues or refute bogus retaliatory allegations.
Follow Exact Procedures for Terminating a Tenancy or Evicting a Tenant
State laws describe the circumstances under which a landlord may end a tenancy. The termination of a tenancy may be delayed, sometimes significantly, if the legal requirements are not followed. For details on termination requirements in New York, see State Laws on Unconditional Quit Terminations and State Laws on Termination for Violation of Lease.
Make Legally Required Disclosures
Landlords are required by New York law to provide tenants with certain information on security deposits. Landlords risk severe financial penalties if they fail to make the appropriate federal notifications regarding any lead-based paint on the property.
Take Advantage of Legal Resources Available to Landlords
It is best to take care of landlords’ legal resources online.
Be sure to check out government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office, the New York Attorney General’s Office, New York State Homes & Community Renewal, the NYC Commission on Human Rights, and the New York City Rent Guidelines Board which provide useful legal information and publications on their websites.
If you have legal questions about your rental unit, you should consult with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney in New York.