As a renter in New York City, you have many rights and protections. Lawmakers often take steps to prevent landlords from setting predatory terms for renters who have few other options for housing when buildings are at such a premium here in the city.

One of those steps was to prevent landlords from putting certain onerous clauses in their leases

Exemptions from Liability

A landlord may not try to exempt themselves from liability for injuries to persons or property caused by their own negligence, or their employees or agents. This means that if you are injured as a result of a landlord’s negligence you have the right to press a personal injury suit against them.

Waiver of Jury Trial

Landlords may not require tenants to waive their right to a civil jury trial in any lawsuit brought by either party. You have the right to your day in court, no matter what the source of the dispute might be.

No Pledging of Household Furniture

Landlords can take a security deposit with cash, check, money order, credit card, or debit card. They may not require tenants to pledge any furniture or household goods as a security against rent.


When you break a lease a landlord suffers damages and they can recover those damages from you. Yet they also have a duty to mitigate those damages. That means they need to clean and repair the unit as soon as they can, then get to work marketing the unit for new tenants. They are only allowed to charge you for the money they lost while the unit was empty.

No Warranty of Habitability Waivers

Landlords may not try to get you to sign off on your right to a safe and habitable unit. A landlord who tries is breaking the law.

No Restriction of Occupancy

According to New York Real Property Law § 235-f, any lease entered into by one tenant “shall be construed to permit occupancy by the tenant, immediate family of the tenant, one additional occupant, or dependent children of the occupant provided that the tenant or tenant’s spouse occupies the premises as his primary residence.” If there are two tenants on the lease, then both their immediate families could move in.

Thus you cannot be penalized for taking a roommate, nor for moving your family into an apartment. If you need to add a roommate to save on rent, you can do this. There are occupancy limits on apartments, and this law does not prohibit landlords from restricting occupancy based on federal, state, or local laws. It also requires tenants to inform the landlord of the names of additional occupants within thirty days, following a request by the landlord. 

What’s the rule of thumb? Every person in an apartment must have a livable area of no less than 80 square feet. Private halls, foyers, bathrooms, and closet space don’t count. But that means up to 8 people could live in an apartment with 696.84 square feet of livable space. The law understands that sooner or later, people have to live somewhere.

Trouble with your landlord?

Don’t be afraid to assert your rights. Reach out to McAdams Law to get help today.

See also:

Your Right to Safety as a New York Tenant

Can Your Landlord Kick You Out of Your Home?

Do You Know About These 2 Rights You Have as a Tenant?


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