Know What Your Responsibilities Are Rights Are As A Landlord In State of New York
Updated: Feb 26, 2019
When a landlord and tenant sign a lease, it is a formal agreement joining the two parties together. This type of deal is made across the state of New York on a daily basis, and as such, there are rules and regulations for both parties to follow.
As a landlord in the Syracuse, New York area, landlords are required to adhere to specific state rules, including the procedures and timeline for ending a tenancy and being in compliance with security deposit limits. This is only a handful of the rights and responsibilities of a landlord, and the specifics vary by state. Several federal laws also affect landlords in the state of New York, including being required to disclose any lead-based paint hazards. If a rental property in the area is covered by either rent stabilization or rent control, other restrictions apply.
To ensure landlords meet their legal responsibilities, it’s important to understand exactly what your rights and responsibilities are to a tenant as a landlord. Failure to meet these legal responsibilities may result in expensive disputes with tenants and substantial financial penalties - for instance, if you choose tenants you illegally discriminate.
The following are several ways to operate a successful property management business and avoid legal trouble in the state of New York.
Comply with all anti-discrimination laws
Before you advertise for a vacant apartment, all landlords should have a thorough understanding of what to say and do when searching for the right tenant and have a thorough understanding of the fair housing laws. This includes how to advertise an available rental property, the questions that are asked when interviewing prospective tenants or who file a rental application, and the way you manage communication with tenants. Failure to know and comply with the law can result in expensive discrimination lawsuits and complaints.
Although New York landlords have the legal right to reject rental applications, for example, based on past behavior like paying rent late on a consistent basis, negative references from their previous landlords, bad credit history and other factors that may make them high-risk - that doesn't mean landlords can pick and choose. Landlords are not allowed to discriminate against potential tenants based on their mental or physical disability, familial status (like having children under 18 years old), sex, national origin, religion or race. Those are "protected categories" under the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act. There are a couple of exemptions to these federal anti-discrimination rules, which include single-family housing, and owner-occupied buildings that have a maximum of four units, if the owners doesn't own over three rental homes at the time. (New York fair housing laws limit some of those exceptions.)
New York State also prohibits discrimination that is based on an individual's marital status or sexual orientation. New York City and some other cities also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
There is more information on fair housing laws on the Civil Rights Bureau website of the New York state Attorney General's office.
Comply with state rent rules
Every landlord wants his or her tenants to pay rent on time and without hassle. If you find yourself needing to evict a tenant because they aren’t paying rent, or you need to increase the rent amount, the eviction must comply with the specific New York state procedures and rules, especially if the rental property you own is in the state, or another community that has rent stabilization or rent control. New York Termination for Nonpayment of Rent and Other Rent Rules has more details regarding New York State rent rules.
Security deposits and returns
One of the major sources of disputes between tenants and landlords are security deposits. To avoid having problems, make sure you are familiar with New York state rules, like interest requirements, that might affect your property. There’s no statutory limit on returning security deposits for non-regulated units, but landlords with rent-controlled and rent stabilized units will have different rules to follow.
To help avoid disputes, use a landlord-tenant checklist whenever a tenant moves in and out of a rental unit, and send a written itemization of the security whenever a tenant moves out.
Provide habitable housing
It is a legal requirement for landlords to keep their rental premises livable under the legal doctrine "implied warranty of habitability." Tenants who live in New York who are without a heater for example, and are within their right to request a repair that is not taken care of may withhold rent in response.
Landlords are required to keep public areas and apartments in good repair, free and clean of garbage, pests, insects and other kinds of offensive materials. In addition, landlords are required to ensure that all ventilating, heating, sanitary, plumbing and electrical systems are in good working order. Landlords also need to ensure that any appliances, such as stoves and refrigerators, are in safe and good working order.
There are also requirements that landlords must follow in regards to window bars, locks, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and lead paint. Landlords also must protect tenants from criminal harm that is reasonably predictable. For example, if a tenant is a victim of crime that occurs inside their apartment, and it can be shown that criminals were able to enter the apartment due to the fact that the landlord failed to repair a broken lock on the front door, then the tenant might be able to recover damages from the landlord. The tenant should notify the landlord in writing of any bad conditions.
Prepare a legal written rental or lease agreement
The rental lease or agreement that you and a tenant sign will set the contractual basis of the relationship you have with them. It contains critical business details, like the rent amount and the length of time that the rental can be occupied by the tenant. Along with local, state and federal landlord-tenant laws, your rental or lease agreement sets forth all of the legal rules that your tenant and you are required to adhere to.
Problems occur when landlords add clauses to their lease that are illegal, like when landlords fail to make disclosures that are legally required to keep the premises habitable. Even if you are not legally required to cover a specific item in your lease, like how and when you can come into a rental unit, you can avoid many disputes if you use a legal and effective rental and lease agreement that informs tenants of what their rights and responsibilities are in a clear and direct way.
Never retaliate against tenants
Retaliating against a tenant whom exercises their legal rights is illegal. Trying to evict a tenant or raise their rent after they complained about a living condition that was unsafe, for example, is illegal. In order to effectively counter any false claims of retaliation and to avoid problems, make sure you have a good paper trail established that documents how you deal with repairs, as well as other facts that are important regarding your landlord-tenant relationship.
Follow exact procedures when evicting a tenant or terminating tenancy
State laws specify how and when a landlord can terminate a tenancy. Failing to follow these legal rules can cause delays (sometimes extensive ones) when it comes to getting a tenancy terminated. For the New York State, a landlord may evict a tenant who fails to pay agreed rent, recover an outstanding amount, or violate substantial obligations under the lease.
Use legal resources to your advantage
There are numerous books, online rental agreements and leases that strictly outline by state the rights and responsibilities of landlords to tenants. Check with governing agencies for more specifics regarding the rules to ensure you’re not in violation as a landlord.
If you have legal questions concerning your rental unit, make sure to consult with an experienced New York landlord-tenant attorney.
This post was written by our friends at CirclApp.com which is a one-stop-shop solution for tenants to search for homes and condo properties for rent.