The ultimate guide to your rights as a renter in NYC
Being a renter presents a unique set of challenges that homeowners typically don’t experience, and that’s especially true in New York City. Fortunately, you have more rights as a resident in NYC than you might think. And being aware of these rights, along with rental laws in NYC, is the best way to make sure that they aren’t being violated — and that you’re living as safely and comfortably as possible.
While NYC tenant right information is available on the NYC.gov site, some of it practically requires a legal degree to decipher. That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide to some of the most important protections you have as a renter in the city.
NYC residents have the right to safe living conditions.
All NYC tenants have the right to a safe living environment. This includes protection from extreme temperatures, leaks, pests, and certain other issues that pose a threat to resident health.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily entitle you to conditions that are set exactly to your preferences. When it’s below 55 degrees during the day between October 1 and May 31, for example, landlords are required to heat buildings to a minimum of 68 degrees. On nights under 40 degrees, that number drops to 62 degrees. Residents are also required to have access to hot water that reaches at least 120 degrees.
Landlords are also required to keep their buildings free of pests at their own cost. Bedbugs, for example, must be exterminated within 30 days.
General repairs like plumbing and leaks are also the landlord’s responsibility under rental laws in NYC, as is the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s important to note, though, that residents are responsible for testing and replacing the batteries on these detectors..
NYC residents have the right to roommates and subletters.
If only one person is named on a lease, NYC tenant rights state that person has the right to share their space with a roommate, unless they’re renting subsidized housing or a rent-controlled apartment.
Single NYC residents may also sublet their apartments for periods of 30 days or more, as long as the building is privately-owned, contains at least four separate apartments, and the apartment is not rent-controlled or subsidized housing.
NYC residents have the right to protection from landlord harassment.
In some cases, unethical landlords have attempted to use underhanded tactics to force existing residents out of their apartments. Fortunately, NYC tenant rights legally protect renters from many of these practices, including lockouts, eviction notices, threats, creating unlivable conditions, and incessant buyout offers.
NYC residents have the right to form tenants’ associations.
NYC renters facing violations of their rights and other challenging circumstances have the right to form tenants’ associations to advocate for their rights and increase their bargaining power.
Like workers’ unions, tenants’ associations can encourage landlords to listen to complaints, both major and minor. In this sense, they can be an excellent way to ensure that each renter is getting all of the protections they’re guaranteed according to NYC law.
NYC residents have the right to due process prior to eviction.
Eviction is a scary idea for any renter, but NYC tenant rights ensure that you’ll never be legally removed from your apartment without a case in housing court. Some residents, particularly those with low income, may even have additional protections, like the right to an attorney to defend their case.
In the best-case scenario, you’ll never need to invoke these rights to advocate for what you deserve as a renter. Still, being aware of them and rental laws in NYC ensures that you’ll be prepared if you ever find yourself dealing with less-than-stellar living conditions.