Landlords vs Tenants: Know Your NYC Tenant Rights
NYC tenant rights provide some of the strongest tenant protections in the country, more so following the enactment of the state’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
See the main highlights in this breakdown courtesy of AM New York.
With 68% of residents renting their homes, New York City is a renters’ city and boasts the largest share of renters in the country, bar Miami (69.9%).
But despite the high tenant figures, how many are really privy to their basic rights as tenants?
Following is a primer of some key NYC tenant rights you need to keep in your mental Rolodex.
1. You have a right to live in a safe well-maintained building that is free from pests, leaks and hazardous conditions.
Landlords are bound by law to provide you with livable units – ones without rats, rodents and other vermin; ones in which the plumbing is in good working order; the heat and hot water works; and there is no mold or peeling paint issues.
The unit is supposed to have basic safety measures, examples of which include window guards and smoke detectors.
2. Housing violations fall into different classes which determine when they should be remedied.
Class A violations are deemed non-hazardous and should be remedied within 90 days.
Class B violations are hazardous and must be remedied within 30 days.
Class C violations are deemed immediately hazardous and their remediation period depends on the severity of the issue.
For instance, if your apartment is infested with roaches, the HPD considers this violation “Class C” or immediately hazardous. According to the law, your landlord has a window of 21 days in which to address the issue.
A lack of heat or hot water must be sorted out immediately, otherwise, the landlord risks facing penalties.
Orient yourself with the various classes and what kinds of issues fall under each.
Here is a simple guide from Tenant.net you can refer to.
3. Landlords are required to inform you if the apartment has had a bedbug incident in the past year.
This is not information you will likely be notified of when renting an apartment.
However, landlords are bound by law to not only report if a certain unit has been infested with bedbugs in the past year, but also obligated to exterminate them should they, heaven forbid, become a presence.
Bedbugs are a Class B violation.
4. Landlords are supposed to observe “heat season”.
City law obligates landlords to provide heat without fail between October 1 and May 31, with a number of stipulations.
During the day, the inside temperature must be 68 degrees if the outside temperature is below 55 degrees. At night, the inside temperature must be 62 degrees at the minimum irrespective of what the thermometer outside reads.
When it comes to hot water, every rental apartment must have hot water 24/7/365¼ – no exceptions.
5. Rental increment amount and frequency of increment.
Landlords cannot raise rents at will. It should be done at the end of a lease period (usually one or two years). Amount raised varies depending on the type of housing. If the unit you live in is not rent-regulated, the potential rent increase is at the landlord’s discretion.
However, the new rent laws state that if landlords are planning to hike the rent by over 5%, they must give a minimum of 30 days’ notice.
If you have been renting the premises for one to two years, the notice should be 60 days. If you’ve been renting for at least two years, the notice should be 90 days prior.
In the case of rent-stabilized apartments, the landlord can only raise the rent by a certain amount set by the city. The increase should be 1.5% for one-year leases beginning on or after October 1, 2019.
For two-year leases, it should be 2.5%.
Landlords can pass on the cost of apartment or building upgrades to tenants (aka individual apartment improvement or capital improvement) if they have indeed made the upgrades.
However, the new rent laws cap this figure at no more than two percent.
6. Rules on security deposits have been revised
The new NYC tenant rights have got the tenant’s back.
The amount landlords can collect in the name of the security deposit is now limited to one month. In addition, they have 14 days from the termination of a lease to reimburse the deposit.
They are required to deduct monies incurred on repairs, but they are required to submit an itemized list of deductions made for those repairs.
There are several other NYC tenant rights you should acquaint yourself with, but these common ones should get you started!
This is not a piece of legal advice