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What You Need to Know About NY Tenants' Rights

A contract between a landlord and tenant, whether it's based on a yearly lease or a handshake, is one of the oldest and most important deals made from Manhattan to Tonawanda.

It defines when a renter will make their payments and how owners will make repairs, etc. Essentially, the integrity of the contract can affect the neighborhood's stability in more ways than one.

It's important that landlords and tenants alike understand their individual responsibilities under state laws. In New York, there are several laws that govern these rights and responsibilities, and they can vary depending upon which county or town you're living in.

Leases in New York State

Leases are contracts between landlords and tenants; they contain the terms and conditions of the rental property. While the lease is in effect, it cannot be changed unless both parties reach an agreement.

If an apartment is not rent stabilized, the lease can be verbal or written. However, the best way to avoid a dispute is to enter into a written agreement. Oral leases older than one year cannot be enforced pursuant to General Obligations Law § 5-701.

Month-to-Month Tenants

If you're a renter who does not have a lease and you pay rent monthly, you're called a "month-to-month" tenant. If you live outside of New York City, your tenancy can be terminated by you or your landlord providing at least one month's notice is given.

You Deserve a Habitable Residence

Under the warranty of habitability, you have the right to live in a safe, sanitary apartment – this is a right that is implied in every oral or written lease in New York. If your landlord constructed a lease that was contrary to this right, it goes against public policy and is therefore void.

For example, a breach of this policy would include the failure to provide hot water on an ongoing basis, or the failure to rid a home of an insect infestation, such as cockroaches. If a landlord does breach the warranty of habitability, the tenant has legal recourse; they can sue for a rent reduction.

Further, landlords are required to maintain the plumbing, electrical, heating, sanitary, and ventilation systems, plus they must maintain the appliances (refrigerators and stoves) that they install. The landlord must ensure that all repairs are made in a timely fashion.

We are only scratching the surface with tenants' rights. If you have a landlord/tenant dispute, please don't hesitate to contact a Schenectady real estate attorney from our firm for legal advice!