Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

New York City Real Estate Law Blog

What rights do renters have in New York City?

Many people who are renting housing are unaware of their rights. If you rent a house or an apartment in New York, you must be fully aware of both your rights and your landlord's responsibilities toward you. If you aren't, you may unwittingly have a negative experience.

Your landlord has a wide range of responsibilities to which they should adhere. While many of their responsibilities will be defined by your contract, there are also certain legal obligations that landlords have in New York. The following is an overview of these.

When paying your mortgage becomes a struggle

If you're a landlord who has mortgages on your rental properties, it's likely that your cash flow situation is complex. You probably depend on the rental income you generate from tenants to pay off the mortgages. When rental payments are late or you do not have a tenant in one of your properties, you may suddenly struggle to keep up with loan repayments.

If this is an issue for several months, you may find yourself worried about the implications of missed payments. The following are some tips to consider when paying your mortgage becomes a struggle.

Neighbor disputes due to water damage

As a homeowner, you have a certain amount of control when it comes to how you protect and manage your property. But, of course, you can never control the threats that your property faces. While you can control the security measures that you put around the boundaries of your property, you will not be able to control whether criminals attempt to break and enter.

In the same way, while you can control how your property manages threats such as flooding, you can not control whether your neighbor acts negligently and causes flood damage to your property.

Communication is very important for landlords and tenants

Want to make a landlord/tenant relationship go smoothly? No matter which side of the equation you're on, there is one simple key: communication.

So many issues happen just because of a lack of communication. Say there is a problem with the property that the tenant thinks is dangerous. They don't communicate what it is until someone gets hurt, and then they're frustrated about it, but the landlord never had any idea there was an issue and was never given a chance to fix it. They feel like they couldn't have done anything differently.

How do pre-foreclosure sales work?

If you have recently encountered difficulties keeping up with your mortgage repayments, you may feel constantly stressed about how you will get out of the situation you are in. You may also have been faced with foreclosure warnings from your bank, which will likely only add to the stress you are under.

The good news is that by taking action now, it's likely that there are many solutions available to you. One of these options is a pre-foreclosure sale. This helps you get rid of the debt you owe by selling your home. While it does mean that you will lose your home, many people view it as preferable to foreclosure.

No renovation permit? Big problem!

Your new home has "lovely bones," but some of the surface coverings are relics from a different era. To be frank, they are vastly unsuitable for the needs of your family. It's time to renovate.

Hold on a moment. Unless you're only doing some minor cosmetic upgrades, just about everything you want to do probably needs a permit from the Department of Buildings (DOB). And, if you're thinking of skipping this step because you don't believe anybody will notice -- forget it.

What are New York City rent control guidelines?

As someone who lives in New York City (NYC), you probably know that rent isn't cheap. This is one of the reasons why there's the NYC Rent Guidelines Board in place. This agency oversees the city's rent control and stabilization programs.

A 2017 study revealed that there were only 22,000 rent-controlled apartments in the entire city that year. There were nearly a million rent-stabilized units at that same time.

Tenants need to ask their potential landlords these questions

When people look at a home or apartment to rent, it's easy to get caught up in just checking out the physical space. If it "feels" like home, then you'll want to rent it as soon as possible.

While going with your gut isn't always bad, it's important not to get so caught up in the excitement that you fail to really consider what signing that lease means. Here are a few questions tenants should ask landlords in advance:

  • Will the rent be pro-rated if you do not move in or out on the first of the month?
  • Does the lease have a natural end date?
  • If you want to re-sign at that time, do you get the first option over anyone else?
  • If you have to break the lease -- maybe you get a job in another city -- what are the penalties?
  • Can you have pets in the home or apartment? What other house rules are there?
  • Do you need to put the utilities in your name and pay them separately, or are they included in the rent?
  • What is the best way to pay the rent?
  • When moving out, what is the system for determining if the entire security deposit goes back to you, as the tenant, and how does that happen? If approved, how long will it take? Why might you get less than the full amount?

You don't always have to pay to fix nonpermitted renovations

If there's one thing that you know as a New York City resident, it's that real estate is quite costly here. One of the worst things that can happen to you as a new homeowner is for you to try and renovate your home only to find out that unauthorized work has been previously performed on it. Situations like this happen quite frequently here in Manhattan. If this has happened to you, then you may wonder who you can hold financially liable for remedying any non-permitted renovations.

One of the drawbacks of buying New York real estate is that sellers don't have to disclose any adverse information about their home. While state law prohibits individuals from purposefully hiding any defects, it's a buyer's obligation to notice any blatant defects as part of the due diligence process.

What is an underwater mortgage?

Buying real estate is not necessarily a sure thing. The market moves, often unexpectedly. What appears to be a great price for a home one year may not look nearly so strong just a few years later.

An underwater mortgage is one that has been negatively impacted by the market, as the value of the home drops -- perhaps dramatically, perhaps not -- and falls under what is still owed on that mortgage. It's not just less than the price paid when the home was purchased, but under the amount that is left.

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