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New York Landlord/Tenant Law Blog

Can my landlord evict me and my emotional support animal?

After struggling for years with mental illness or emotional issues, you probably thought you were destined to live the rest of your life alone and suffering. As difficult as it may be to explain your circumstances, you know that others struggle to understand what you are going through. You may have a psychiatrist or counselor to talk to, but sometimes what you really need is someone to support and comfort you when your condition becomes overwhelming.

This is where your emotional support animal comes in. If you have found a dog to provide that consistent consolation that keeps your depression, anxiety or other emotional issues from making your life unbearable, you certainly want to have that support with you as much as possible. However, if your New York apartment or condo has a no-pet policy, you may wonder if there is a way around it.

New York slumlord must pay $8 million to former tenants

The presence of slumlords in a large metropolis like New York is an unpleasant fact. For people living in rent-stabilized apartments, landlord-tenant disputes are commonplace when a landlord is disreputable. Often, these landlords will engage in unethical or outright illegal activities in an attempt to push out the current residents. By getting the renters to leave, landlords will be free to move in new residents and collect a greater amount of rent.

One of New York's most notorious landlords has been tasked with paying $8 million in restitution to his former tenants. According to reports, this alleged slumlord is accused of using the following illegal tactics to oust residents from their rent-stabilized homes.

  • Refusal to address livability conditions
  • Using henchmen to "intimidate, stalk, and threaten" tenants
  • Turning residences into hazardous construction zones
  • Engaging in illegal construction
  • Filing frivolous lawsuits against residents

Can I sublet my apartment while I am out of town?

More employers are requiring their employees to travel frequently. You may be facing an extended work trip out of state or even out of the country. If you are expecting to be away from your apartment for months or even years, then subletting will sound like an enticing option.

Subletting will allow you to keep your apartment in its convenient location without breaking the lease. You may be especially interested in keeping your current rent price. If your apartment is rent-stabilized then it is certainly a rare commodity that you should hold onto. As New York City rent prices skyrocket, tenants in rent-stabilized units are safe from unfair price hikes. However, there are restrictions.

My landlord is trying to evict me. Can I fight back?

It is difficult to find property to rent in New York. Prices are high, availability is low and the entire home-search process can be stressful. It's not easy to find a place to live in the city, and for this reason, it can come as a shock when your landlord tries to evict you from your rented home.

You may find it useful to know about your rights in case you ever face what you believe is a wrongful eviction effort. There are only certain circumstances in which a landlord can evict you from your home, and you may have grounds to fight back against these efforts.

How easy is it to get evicted living in an unregulated apartment?

In a city like New York, there are many "unregulated apartments." With these types of units, landlords aren't restricted with respect to how much they charge to lease an apartment.

They're also not limited to how often or how much they choose to increase rent. They can increase rent on a whim whether the market dictates that it's necessary or because they actually intend to make improvements to the building they own.

Renters are protected from unfair “no-pet” policies

Many tenants have heard, “either you go or the dog goes.” However, most people consider their dog to be a part of the family. Forcing someone to part with their pet can be devastating, sometimes even impacting the owner’s health.

Ownership of a pet is sometimes legal under state and federal laws, even with “no-pet” building policies. Tenants are protected by NYC Admin. Code § 27-2009.1(b). This rule states that a “no-pet” lease is deemed waived if a tenant has openly kept their pet in the building for three months while the building owner was aware of the pet. This may mean that the landlord or a building maintenance worker saw you walking your dog. If the landlord does not take action for longer than the three months, then the clause can be waived.

What is J-51 and how will it affect my rent?

Renters should be aware of how the J-51 tax exemption and abatement can affect their rent. J-51 is a property tax benefit for landlords who renovate apartment buildings. If you noticed that your landlord made updates to your building or installed a new boiler, then they may be seeking J-51 tax breaks. Additionally, landlords who convert nonresidential buildings into multi-apartment dwellings can also qualify for J-51.

Landlords cannot raise rent when receiving those tax breaks. Buildings receiving J-51 benefits are subject to rent stabilization, which comes with its own set of rules that protect tenants. Landlords receiving J-51 benefits should offer one or two year lease renewal options at a stabilized price.

Tenant rights to habitability and repairs in New York

New York tenants are entitled to basic rights surrounding the quality of their living conditions, as laid out in the Warranty of Habitability. This warranty guarantees all tenants to a residence that is livable, safe and sanitary. This right applies to all rental leases, regardless of whether they are written or oral. In addition, if your landlord includes a stipulation in their lease that contradicts this policy, that condition is invalid under the law.

There are many infractions that constitute a breach of this warranty. For example, it is illegal for a landlord to fail to:

What should you expect from your landlord?

If you finally found an apartment you can afford in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens, you are probably excited to settle in and start establishing yourself in the neighborhood. You will want to see how long it takes you to get to work from your new home and learn about the best places to get your favorite coffee or pizza.

You will certainly want to get to know your neighbors and learn the idiosyncrasies of life in your building. Hopefully, your fellow tenants won't be sharing stories about freezing winters when the heat is off and the shady characters who live on the third floor. In fact, there are certain expectations you may have as a tenant.