Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

What rights does a residential tenant have under New York law?

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant in a residential building in New York, it is important to know the rights of tenants under New York law. The residential lease controls many aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship. But tenants also have rights under state law, and both landlords and tenants owe it to themselves to have some basic familiarity with these rights. This post will discuss a few of the more important rights of New York tenants.

One of the most fundamental rights of a residential tenant is the warranty of habitability. Under New York law every residential lease contains an implied warranty that the premises are fit for human habitation and free of dangerous conditions. Tenants also have a right to have the premises kept in good repair by the landlord, and kept free of rodents and other vermin.

If a landlord fails to repair a serious violation that is a danger to life or health for more than six months after receiving a citation, the tenant can withhold the rent until the violation is remedied. If the landlord commences a non-payment rent proceeding, the tenant can deposit the rent in court. If the tenant proves a violation, the rent that was deposited will be returned to the tenant.

The tenant also has a right to quiet enjoyment of the premises. If the landlord interferes with this right and doesn't allow the tenant to peacefully occupy the premises, it can give rise to criminal charges.

For a landlord, ignorance of tenants' legal rights can result in costly lease disputes and litigation. For tenants, knowing your rights can protect you and your family from unfair and illegal practices by your landlord. Seeking the guidance of an experienced New York real estate lawyer before taking action can help both sides avoid expensive mistakes.

Source: Metropolitan Council on Housing, "Statutory rights of residential tenants in New York," accessed Dec. 8, 2014

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