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New York Landlord/Tenant Law Blog

When is a landlord liable for threats to your personal safety?

Renting property in New York City can be a long and challenging process. As a tenant of a rented property, you know that you still have rights even though you do not own the property. However, you may be unaware of what those rights entail. If you believe that your safety is at risk or you suffered physical harm because of the action or inaction of your landlord, you may have the right to seek legal recourse. 

Tenants would be wise to fully understand to what degree their safety is the responsibility of their landlord. You should not have to live in unnecessarily dangerous conditions or suffer harm from threats or risks that were not your fault. If you believe you have a case against your landlord, you have no time to lose in seeking the full protection of your rights.

Landlords are required to provide safety devices for tenants

One place that people in New York expect to be safe is in their own apartments or apartment buildings. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes there are fires or an unauthorized individual enters the building and robs someone or assaults them in some way. This should never happen and while sometimes there is nothing anyone can do to prevent these bad things from happening, there are certain safety precautions that people can take to prevent them from happening.

In fact the law actually requires landlords to assist in providing some safety precautions to their tenants. One is that they are required to provide both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors inside everyone's apartment close to bedrooms. Tenants must ensure that they are in good working order, but landlords must provide them. The landlord must also install window guards on all windows inside an apartment with children under 10 years old to prevent accidental falls.

New law recognizes tenants' need for lawyers in housing court

There are many rules in New York that are meant to protect tenants' rights and protect them from abuse from landlords. However, many tenants do not know their rights or what landlords can and cannot do to tenants. Also, many are unaware of certain services that landlords are required to provide to tenants. Most importantly many tenants do not know what they can do when they receive an eviction notice or find themselves in a landlord-tenant dispute.

Housing court can be a very intimidating place for tenants especially since landlords have attorneys 90% of the time. Many tenants may have valid defenses, but may not know that they do or do not know how to properly assert them. This can lead to evictions that should have never occurred and leave the tenants in a very difficult position. Not only do they no longer have a place to live, but a previous eviction can make it more difficult to find another place to live.

What are the landlord-tenant rules without a current lease?

There are many different types of lease agreements in New York. There are some things that all leases cannot legally do and there are certain tenant protections regardless of what a lease states. However, leases vary in length, renewal process, amount of rent, termination process and other terms governing the landlord/tenant relationship and potential landlord-tenant disputes. If it is a rent stabilized housing unit, there must be a current lease, but this is not true if the building is not rent stabilized.

When a renter has a lease it is easy to determine when rent is due, how long the tenant can live there and other basic terms. However, if a renter does not have a lease this can be more difficult. So, by default if a renter pays rent each month, which is accepted by the landlord, there are considered month-to-month tenants. Also, if it is not a rent controlled building, if a tenant stays past the end of the lease and the landlord continues to accept rent they are considered month-month tenants. This means that the rental agreement lasts one month and renews when they pay rent the next month.

Landlords in New York cannot harass commercial tenants

There are many people renting in New York. So, there are many landlords and many tenants. Most people think about people living in apartments when they think about landlord and tenants, but there are also many businesses who rent from landlords as well. Residential tenants have many more rights than commercial tenants though since there is a difference between one's home and one's business. However, commercial tenants do still have some rights and if they are violated they can lead to landlord-tenant disputes.

One of these rights is that landlords cannot harass commercial tenants. In order to prove that a commercial landlord is harassing a tenant, the tenant must demonstrate that the landlord is doing various things to try and force the tenant to vacate the premises and the landlord engaged in wrongful behavior to do this.

Utilities that landlords must keep on in New York

As people in New York know, the seasons bring extreme differences to the area. The summers can be very hot and humid while the winters can bring snow, ice and subfreezing temperatures. During the winter months it is essential that people have heat in their apartments, not only to live comfortably, but also simply to avoid serious health complications. So, it is essential that utility bills are paid and the heat stays on.

To help ensure this happens, the law requires landlords to supply heat to their tenants' apartments. If the temperature falls below 55 degrees during the day, the heat must be up to at least to 68 degrees in the apartments. If the temperature falls below 40 degrees at night then the heat must be up to at least 55 degrees.

Being a good tenant is beneficial for both renters and landlords

You have done your research and are ready to get into that perfect New York rental. You've checked prices and decided on a location. You've called the landlord and set up an appointment to check the place out. If the space is what you expect, you are ready to sign the lease. You are excited and ready to get into your new home.

As you look at the space and talk to the landlord, you can think about what it means to be a good tenant. Being regarded as a good tenant is not only good for the landlord, but also can help you as a renter.

A tenant's right to habitability and repairs

People live in all types of apartments in New York. Some are nicer than others and some are also much more expensive than others. When people pay higher rent, they expect more from the landlords, but no matter what a tenant pays for rent, they expect the unit and building will be in good repair. Most would not accept a building needing repairs to make it safe or a building that did not have water or heat all the time. If those would not provided, they would most likely have a landlord/tenant dispute.

Tenants actually have a right to those types of things. Landlords must keep the building habitable and this cannot be waived by a provision in a lease. Landlords must keep the water running and heat on as well as taking care of problems such as mold or insect infestations. They are also responsible for keeping the common areas of the building in good repair as well. They must ensure that the tenants can live their daily lives without potential health and safety concerns based on the condition of the building.

Rising rent costs for renovations never done, says NYC tenants

A tenant of a Washington Heights apartment in Manhattan is one of 60 tenants who filed a class-action suit last week alleging that the Bronstein Properties, inflated rent illegally by making false claims of renovations that never took place. The company owns over 100 buildings throughout the area.

According to the tenant, she researched a history of rent prices for her apartment, noticing it had nearly doubled over the previous four years. In order for this sharp rise in rent, the landlord would have needed to make approximately $30,000 in renovations while the apartment was vacant. Yet there is no record of any permits for the property, which would have been necessary for such renovations.

What is tenant blacklisting in New York?

The New York State Office of Court Administration, also known as OCA, keeps track of tenants who have been involved in Housing Court for nonpayment proceedings. There is a document containing a list of tenants on the list, which is called the tenant blacklist. Finding yourself on this list could lead to serious ramifications when trying to find a new home.

Eviction cases are brought to New York City Housing Court to be sold to tenant screening bureaus. These organizations are used by a landlord to keep track and monitor "deadbeat" tenants, or those who could be problematic for the landlord. The problem is, however, that much of the information in these documents do not tell the whole story.

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