What are the Rights of a Tenant?
In New York, there are several laws in place to protect tenants. The terms in your lease agreement aren’t the only rights you have. There are multiple automatic rights that come with being a renter. Here are some of the basic rights of every tenant in New York.
A Safe and Livable Environment
When you sign a lease agreement, you get the guarantee that your landlord will give you a safe and livable environment. This means that you are entitled to heat and hot water.
From October through May, your landlord needs to keep your heat in working order. If the temperature drops below a certain value, the heater needs to maintain a minimum temperature. That temperature varies depending on the time of day.
No matter what month it may be, you deserve hot water. If your water heater doesn’t work, your landlord must repair it immediately. It must work at all hours of the day, and each day of the week.
The term “livable” also refers to pest control. In some apartments, rodents or roaches are everywhere. If this is true of your residence, you should notify your landlord immediately. It’s their job to remove the pests and leave your home safe and comfortable.
A Fair Eviction Process
Some landlords threaten eviction regularly. However, eviction isn’t as easy as it may seem. They must notify you of the eviction, then initiate legal proceedings. Until they have an official court order, they can’t lock you out of your home.
A landlord needs a reason to evict you. Typically, they can only kick you out for breaking the terms of your lease. For example, they could start the process because you failed to pay rent. They could also initiate proceedings because of noise complaints that you failed to address.
Ownership of the Security Deposit
Most landlords in New York City require a hefty security deposit. Although that money doesn’t remain in your bank account, it is still yours. Your landlord must deposit it into a separate bank account. Furthermore, they can’t use the money for anything unless you break the terms of the lease.
As soon as the landlord deposits your money, they should send you the bank name and location. If the money accumulates interest, a percentage of that interest should go to you.
When your lease is over, your landlord should get you the security deposit back relatively quickly. In fact, you should receive it between 21 and 45 days of your lease end date.
Reasonable Rent Increases
In New York City, there are about 22,000 apartments that are rent controlled. If yours is, then you don’t need to worry about high rent increases. But if yours isn’t, then you could see an increase in your rent at any time.
Your landlord can raise your rent. However, they can only do so by $1000 for the year. Once your lease expires, they can raise it as much as they want.
As a tenant, you are entitled to privacy. Your landlord might come over regularly and ask to enter your home. However, it’s your right to turn them away. They are not allowed into your home unless you give them permission.
And this overlaps with another automatic tenant right - protection from harassment or discrimination. There is a federal law that protects you from discrimination. If your landlord harasses you or discriminates against you, then you can take legal action.
It’s impossible to learn everything about tenant rights in one sitting. Fortunately, there’s another way you can find out about your rights. You can speak to a landlord-tenant attorney in the Bronx. If someone is violating your rights, you can seek justice.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.