If you own rental properties in the state of New York, you’ve invested in a lucrative market. Even if expensive prices keep you from investing in New York City, there are plenty of other neighborhoods across the state that offer investors an affordable way to buy property and generate rental income.
However, there are a group of laws all investors in New York must know: New York state landlord tenant laws. These laws govern how all landlord-tenant relationships function, and without knowledge of them, you could face severe penalties. Some breaches, such as fair housing violations, can cost you thousands of dollars in fines.
For this reason, it’s essential that you understand what the laws are in New York and how to comply with them in your rental business.
Here are seven laws all landlords in New York should know.
#1 New York has rent control laws.
One of the most important things to know about the law is whether rent control regulations apply in your location. Rent control exists due to the extremely high average rent price New York has in some areas (e.g., the average rent price Manhattan reported in 2022 was over $5,000). New York City and several other cities in the state have active rent control laws.
The city of New York reports that in 2021, there were approximately 16,400 rent controlled apartments and 1,050,000 rent stabilized apartments. Additionally, changes in rent prices for rent controlled apartments were changed with the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Across the entire state, landlords must give proper notice (30-90 days, depending on the length of the tenancy) before increasing rent regardless of the rent control status of the city.
Be sure you review these laws as well as others pertaining to rent control before enforcing your rent rate in New York.
#2 NYC has rent increase exceptions.
If you rent in New York City, there are two rent increase exceptions you should know: the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Program. If any of your tenants are eligible for these programs, they may be able to apply for a rent freeze, which prevents you from increasing their rent.
#3 There are nine required lease disclosures.
Another set of laws to be aware of are landlord disclosure requirements. In New York, there are nine different disclosures landlords are required to include in rental agreements. The first is the federally mandated disclosure for lead-based paint hazards in older buildings. The other eight required disclosures pertain to:
- Security deposit receipts
- Rent receipts
- Sprinkler systems
- Indoor air contamination results
- The unit’s certificate of occupancy
- Reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities
- Source of income fair housing rights
#4 Rent is not officially “late” for five days after the due date.
New York state has a mandatory 5-day grace period. What this means is that you cannot enforce any penalties—such as late fees or eviction notices—until at least five days after the rent due date have passed. If a tenant makes the full payment within these five days, they cannot be penalized.
It’s important to note that this 5-day grace period comes before the 14- and 30-day eviction notice periods. In New York, you must wait out the grace period first, before sending an eviction notice. If the tenant still hasn’t paid, then you must send the eviction notice and wait an additional notice fourteen days before you can officially file for eviction with the court.
#5 There are restrictions on late fees.
When you’ve waited out the 5-day grace period and can finally enforce late fees, you should know that these are restricted in New York as well. Late fees in the state may not exceed $50 or 5% of the rent, whichever is less. A 5% limit on late fees is typical across the states that have these regulations.
#6 New York provides expanded fair housing protections.
Most landlords are aware of the federal Fair Housing Act, the cornerstone law that protects tenants from discrimination based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. However, some landlords aren’t aware that most states offer additional protections to tenants.
New York’s fair housing protections are extensive. In addition to the seven protected classes mentioned above, landlords in New York may not discriminate in any way based on any of the following factors:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Military status
- Marital status
- Source of income
- Domestic violence victims
#7 Two weeks’ notice is required to evict a nonpaying tenant.
As mentioned, above, at least 14-days’ notice is required to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent. This 14-day notice period starts after the mandatory 5-day grace period, during which it is illegal to send a tenant an eviction notice.
The formal eviction does not begin until the end of the 14-day notice period, after which you can head to the courthouse to file an official unlawful detainer suit against your tenant.
For other lease violations besides nonpayment (e.g., disturbances, adopting an unauthorized pet, etc.), the notice period is longer: 30 days. If the tenant engages in criminal activity on the premises, however, you can file for eviction immediately with no notice.
Reading through legal material might not be entertaining, but for landlords, it is essential. Be sure you’re aware of each of these landlord-tenant laws in New York, as well as all others that apply in your region.
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