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NestApple's Real Estate Blog

Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.

What A Landlord Can and Cannot Do in New York

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Landlords are known for ruling over their properties with an iron fist, and that’s no joke. We have all heard about landlords getting too excitedWhat A Landlord Can and Cannot Do in New York about having power. Sometimes, this turns into a horror story worthy of the news. There are a lot of grey areas that make people worry about the true power a landlord can hold. What can a landlord do during an inspection?

Ever wonder what they can do and where the line gets drawn? It’s a common question among renters, so knowing your tenant rights is good. Let’s discuss tenant rights NYC and landlord rights NYC.

What Can A Landlord Do?

The landlord has a lot of power regarding what they do with their properties. A typical owner is allowed to do the following:

  1. Evict people for non-payment, multiple complaints, and breach of the rental contract. They have the right to start the legal eviction process.
  2. Cite tenants for actions that have harmed the property or fellow neighbors. For example, landlords can write you up for blaring music at 11 PM on a Tuesday. Or, they have the right to cite you for having an animal in a building that disallows them.
  3. Approve or disapprove new tenants based on income, past rental behavior, and criminal records. Moreover, they can also run a background check on you with your permission. Similarly, if a landlord notices signs of addiction, they can bar you from renting.
  4. Landlords can advise other owners not to rent to you if you are a bad tenant. We don’t know what to do if this doesn’t give you a reason to be a good renter.
  5. Landlords can sue tenants who cause severe damage to their units, a common occurrence concerning smaller units with rowdy neighbors.
  6. Sometimes, a landlord can also refuse the lease renewal. This is often the case when a building is sold or needs a significant overhaul. Tenants will get a warning ahead of time, though.
  7. Landlords can also break a lease early upon request for a good enough reason. Legally, they have to do this in the case of domestic violence.

Landlords can only screen rental applications based on their rental history, credit score, background, and income.

If you have already signed a residential lease agreement, don’t be fooled into thinking that your landlord can get away with whatever they want. The most common question is, “Can landlords do random inspections?”. Even though you are renting, you have the right to privacy, so frequently, people wonder if their owner can enter their home without permission.

In short, the answer is no. Your landlord must inform you in writing beforehand if they need to enter the property, except in an emergency. Tenants have the right to privacy, but landlords also reserve the right to enter the rental property under the approved conditions, which are in your leasing agreement.

However, if a landlord tries to enter your home without advanced written notice, say for a “random inspection,” the tenant has every right to refuse entry.

The Right To Quiet Enjoyment

According to federal law, all legal tenants possess what is known as the “Right To Quiet Enjoyment.” This, by definition, means “A property owner or tenant’s right to own and use their property without disturbance, including by a person with the superior title. Disruption of an owner or tenant’s possession or use may constitute a nuisance.

A deed or lease may include a covenant of quiet enjoyment to insure an owner or tenant against a disturbance.”

This law allows you to live in a rental property peacefully and without disturbance. Your landlord violates your request for quiet enjoyment if, for example, your landlord frequently makes unnecessary and unannounced visits to the property or harasses you on the phone or in person.

What Can’t A Landlord Do?

There are still limitations to a landlord’s power. These issues below are things that cross the line:

  1. Discrimination is a big deal in NYC law, and landlords cannot turn people away based on race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or creed. You must talk to a lawyer if you believe you are a victim of discrimination.
  2. They cannot force you to leave your home without a written court order. Changing the locks while you’re out, packing up all your stuff, going outside, and similar methods are illegal. You must follow the eviction process, period. Similarly, they cannot prevent you from entering the home.
  3. They also cannot cut off your utilities. Your utility company is in charge of that, and your landlord has no say in whether you get cut off (a.k.a. refusal of service).
  4. Oh, and landlords also can’t ignore problems with your building. Landlords are 100 percent responsible for the care and upkeep of your building, including pest control (like bed bugs), broken pipes, poor plumbing, and busted heating.
  5. Landlords cannot retaliate against you for bad reviews, complaints, or similar issues. So, they can’t raise your rent payments because you give a bad review.
  6. A landlord cannot remove items from your home and enter the house without warning. Most of the time, they’ll give you 24 hours’ notice before they have you leave.
  7. Building owners and landlords also can’t lie about the conditions of the home. Think of bed bugs or lead paint.

How To Get Your owner Into Trouble

If you feel your landlord violated your tenant’s rights, there are ways to take legal action against them. It would help if you never thought that, as a tenant, you do not have the right to live peacefully and undisturbed in your rental residence.

Just because the landlord owns or is in charge of the investment property doesn’t mean they can do whatever they like. If they do something illegal, you can take action and get your landlord in trouble.

The first thing you should do is review the terms of your lease and make notes of any actions your landlord has taken that you think might be illegal or violate your rights. Having as much detail as possible is essential to sue or bring legal action before the Supreme Court or Landlord-tenant Court NYC.

Some common reasons people take their landlords to court include refusing to return a security deposit, refusing repair requests, entering the property without proper notice, and violating the Fair Housing Act.

What Should You Do If Your owner Oversteps Their Bounds?

If your landlord locks you out of your house, your best bet is to call 911 and report an illegal eviction. Similarly, it would help if you always got a real estate lawyer to review the situation. This is especially true for protected classes who can invoke the Fourth Amendment.

Document things, and look for a new apartment as soon as you can. You’ll be glad to leave.

Lastly, check the lease expiration date to check when the lease expires.

Written By: Ossiana Tepfenhart

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