You’ve probably heard the saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Well, if you’re a landlord with tenants in NYC, you have great power and therefore, great responsibility. Although the enforcement of landlord-tenant laws may vary from city to city, the laws that outline landlord responsibilities in NYC are implemented and followed quite strictly. 

Here is a brief list of the main responsibilities every landlord should be aware of:

Main landlord responsibilities in NYC

1. Know which space you are allowed to rent and how: Legally speaking, “Only legal residential space may be rented for living, as defined by a property’s Certificate of Occupancy.” Furthermore, if the building is rent-stabilized, you are required to register rent rates annually with NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).

Moreover, if your residential property has 3 or more residential units, and if neither you nor your immediate family resides at the property, you must register the units annually with the HPD (the fee for doing so is $13).

2. Provide ‘safe and habitable’ living conditions: One of the main landlord responsibilities in NYC is to offer your tenant the mandated and implied, “Warranty of habitability” – meaning the condition of the property you are renting must be ‘safe and habitable’ for humans. In other words, the rental space needs to be sanitary, free of mold, gas leakage, water leakage and any other hazardous conditions.

You are also required to provide heat, hot and cold water, and electricity to your tenants. Rental spaces also need to be cleaned and painted before renting; upon renting, it is your tenants’ duty to maintain it and keep it clean.

3. Provide and maintain security measures: In general, you are required to provide at least one approved carbon monoxide detector and one smoke detector in each dwelling unit together with written information about how to test and maintain them.

You also need to check which security measures are allowed and legal and which are not (for example, double cylinder locks are illegal) and you should remove the ones that are considered illegal or dangerous.

What’s more, in case your tenants asks you (in writing) for window guards because they have a child 10 years of age or younger either living in the apartment or regularly spending a lot of time there, you have a responsibility to ensure that the window guards are properly installed on the premises.

4. Provide property maintenance on time: Maintenance in the sense of cleaning is your tenant’s responsibility; however, if your tenant experiences a major issue that impacts habitability, you must respond within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.

Under “Major issues that impact habitability,” falls: problems with heating or air conditioning (if air conditioning is a part of the lease agreement), water issues and flooding, major security concerns, plumbing issues, electricity issues, pest infestation, or any other issue that renders the unit unlivable.

Failure to respond to maintenance complaints can result in you having to cover the cost of an alternative temporary shelter for your tenants.

5. Notify the tenant before entering the premise: You can’t simply barge in your tenant’s apartment whenever you want (unless it is a legitimate emergency, in which case you should alert the tenant anyway).

You must notify the tenant in advance, usually 24-48 hours prior, in writing, clearly stating the day and time you wish to access the apartment.

Additionally, the appointment must be between working hours, which are 9am to 5pm during the week, unless otherwise agreed to by the tenant.

6. Notify the tenant in advance before raising rent: If your apartment is rent-stabilized and rent-controlled, you are required to register rents every year, between April 1 and July 31 using HCR’s automated system; together with this, you also need to file for increases based on either individual apartments or building-wide improvements.

In addition, you must provide your tenants with a notice about the increase in rent at least 30 to 60 days prior.

7. Dealing with an ending lease agreement, eviction and security deposits: You can always talk to your tenant and discuss the details of ending a lease agreement, but remember to do so professionally.

When your tenant vacates the apartment, it’s your duty to inspect the premises for potential damages. Typically, you will have a 30-60 day deadline to return the security deposit after the tenant vacates the property.

In case your property was damaged by the tenant, you have the right to cover the damages your tenant made using their security deposit (unless you make another, different agreement with them).


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Disclaimer: The following information applies to New York State and should not be construed as legal advice, but as a means whereby tenants may increase their awareness about the rights they have as a matter of law with regard to their leasehold interest in a particular piece of property. If you are having an issue with your landlord, we suggest you seek competent counsel to ensure that your rights are properly adjudicated. The publisher of this article and its contributors disclaim responsibility for any damages that may result from any error, inaccuracy, or omission contained herein.