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What Do I Need to Know About Renters’ Law in New York City?
Referred to as the "City That Never Sleeps,” New York City (NYC) is also known as the city of renters. According to a recent study released by Zillow, nearly 70 percent of NYC residents rent their homes, which is the largest percentage of renters of any other major city in the United States. Renting a place to live from a landlord should not turn into a legal battle every time even a minor issue arises. NYC renters’ law has historically favored landlords, that is until recent laws passed by the New York City Council leveled the legal playing field between tenants and landlords.
NYC renters’ law changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent landlords from kicking out tenants that did have the financial resources to keep up with rent payments. As the moratorium on rent payments has long passed, business appears back to normal for most rental properties. This means landlords have taken steps not only to collect the current rent due for residents, but also past rental payments that the moratorium temporarily suspended.
Landlords in New Your City once had a decisive advantage over tenants based on the basic economic law of supply and demand. As we move forward in 2022, the pendulum has tilted back towards tenants based on the same basic economic law of supply and demand. Many NYC residents have relocated out of the city, as well as the state. The result has been a growing number of vacant rental properties that landlords desperately need to fill.
Nonetheless, many tenants are unaware of their rights under NYC renters’ law. If you believe your landlord has violated one of the statutes that protect New York City tenants, you should contact one of the experienced attorneys at Morgan & Morgan. During the first meeting, the lawyer we assign to your case conducts a review to determine whether your landlord violated one of more NYC renters’ laws.
Schedule a free case evaluation today to learn more about how NYC renters’ law protects you against overly aggressive landlord tactics.
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What Are My Rights Under NYC Renters’ Law?
Tenants receive several protections according to the renter laws established in New York City. The following list of laws represents the most influential NYC renters’ laws that every tenant living in the Big Apple should know.
The Right to Live in a Safe Environment
As the foundation of the laws that protect renters in New York City, the right to live in a safe environment covers many issues such as leaks, pests, and hazardous conditions. Tenants have the right to live in well-maintained buildings where heat and hot water operate efficiently. They also have the right to be protected from crime and the harm caused by a fire. Landlords in NYC must install smoke detectors and window guards throughout rental properties.
The Right to Have Housing Violations Addressed
New York City has established a process that allows tenants to complain about housing code violations. The city has designated different classes of housing violations, such as a Class C violation that requires a landlord to remedy a housing code violation within 21 days of it being reported. A Class B violation requires a remedy within 30 days of it being reported to the New York City Housing Authority. The tenant rights advocates at Morgan & Morgan encourage residents that have housing grievances with a landlord to first contact our law firm to develop an effective strategy for remediation.
The Right to Heat
Having an issue with heat and/or hot water in the depths of winter is not only frustrating, but it also can be life-threatening. NYC renters’ law requires landlords to fix any heat-related issues between October 1 and May 31 immediately. During the eight-month period, if the temperature during the day never rises above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the inside temperature of a rental unit must never fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature inside a rental unit must remain above 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Landlords must supply hot water 24 hours a day, seven days per week, with no exceptions allowed under any circumstances.
The Right to Know About Bedbugs
Landlords in New York City must eliminate bedbugs from an impacted unit. If you experience a bedbug problem, NYC renters’ law requires your landlord to report the infestation, as well as any units that have been overrun with bedbugs within the past year. According to the Met Council on Housing, New York City renters’ law considers a bedbug infestation to be a Class B violation. This gives landlords no more than 30 days to eliminate bedbugs from a rental unit. Landlords must hire an exterminator who has received a license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Right to Restricted Rent Increases
Landlords have the right to raise the rent at the conclusion of a lease. The amount of a rent increase depends on the type of rental property. If you do not live in a rental property that is rent-regulated, your landlord can raise your rent as much as the landlord wants. Under a recently passed NYC renters’ law, landlords must give tenants at least 30 days of notice before raising rent if the rent increase is more than five percent. If your landlord does not intend to extend your lease, you have the right to be informed about the decision 60 days before the lease expires if you have lived in the same rental unit for no more than two years. If you have lived in the same rental unit for more than two years, your landlord must give you 90 days of notice to search for another home.
The Right to a Rent Freeze Under Certain Conditions
New York has implemented a rent freeze program for tenants who are at least 62 years old, as well as for tenants that live with a qualifying disability who are at least 18 years old. According to the rent freeze law, “Under this program, a property tax credit covers the difference between the actual rent amount and what you (the tenant) are responsible for paying at the frozen rate.” Find out if you qualify for a rent freeze in New York City by referring to the Guide to the Rent Freeze Program.
The Right to Organize a Tenant’s Association
Landlords would rather fight a claim of violating tenant rights against an individual as opposed to a group. Because of this, many landlords try to prohibit the organization of tenant associations.
However, NYC renters’ law makes it illegal for landlords to prevent tenants from forming a tenant’s association of any size. You have the right to start a tenant’s association, without fearing any type of pushback from your landlord. If your landlord takes action to prevent you from organizing a tenant’s association, contact one of the highly-rated litigators at Morgan & Morgan for legal support.
These are just six of the most important things you need to know about NYC renters’ law. Other issues to learn about include rent stabilization and the rules governing security deposits. The Morgan & Morgan attorney assigned to your case can help you become more familiar with the laws that landlords must follow in New Your City.
What Are Some Tips for Renting in NYC?
Trying to find the right rental unit that matches your budget, as well as your need for certain amenities, can be frustrating in New York City. Following a few tips can help you learn how to live within your means and enjoy a vibrant lifestyle in the Big Apple.
Conduct Thorough Research
Take your time when you start to apartment hunt in New York City. As the most populated city in the United States, NYC offers the largest number of available rental units. You can target a borough to live in such as Queens or cast your net over a wider area. Before you start conducting research, write down a list of amenities that you must have and a second list of amenities that would be nice to have, but are not deal-breakers.
Research can include tenant reviews on-site such as Yelp and Google. You also should review the websites presented by property management companies. Pay special attention to the reputation rating handed out by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Stay away from landlords or property management companies that have earned less than a B+ reputation rating from the BBB.
Know Your Rights
Morgan & Morgan has provided an overview of NYC renters’ law. However, you should have a much more in-depth knowledge of your tenant rights before you start the apartment search process. Unethical landlords understand how to manipulate potential tenants that are not aware of their rights as designated by NYC renters’ law. You do not have to become an expert, but you should know about legal issues such as rent increases, rent freezes, and your right to live in a safe rental environment.
How Do I Handle a Dispute With My Landlord?
Strength in numbers should be your mantra when you rent an apartment in New York City. This means once you move into a rental property, introduce yourself to your neighbors. Determine whether the rental property has a tenant’s association and if it does not, slowly build relationships with other tenants. Eventually, you should gain the support of other tenants to form an association that represents the legal interests of every tenant living in the building.
A tenant-landlord dispute often comes down to the evidence gathered and organized by the aggrieved tenant or a large group of tenants. According to the Met Council on Housing, “In general, when fighting with your landlord over repairs and services, keeping good records is key.” This means that if you enter into a dispute with your landlord, you should document every violation. For example, if you experience a rodent infestation, take photographs of the damage done to the rental unit.
Do not ignore a problem until it becomes too late to take legal action. When you discover an issue that negatively impacts the quality of your life, do not wait until the issue morphs into a major calamity. Inform your landlord about an issue immediately, and if you encounter resistance, reach out to one of the skilled litigators at Morgan & Morgan for legal support. We offer a free case evaluation that helps us prepare for the next step in the tenant and landlord dispute resolution process.