1. Home

New York Apartment Living and the Law

Learn About Your Rights if You Rent in the Empire State


Manhatten Skyscrapers
Lianne Milton/Stone/Getty Images

As a tenant, it's helpful to know as much as you can about your rights when you sign a lease and move into an apartment. If you rent or you're looking to rent an apartment in New York State, there are certain laws governing landlord-tenant relations you should be aware of.

Getting educated about state and local laws makes you empowered when dealing with your landlord. The more you know the law, the more you can identify your rights as a tenant in certain situations, and take action if you believe your landlord is violating those rights.

Important New York State Landlord-Tenant Laws

Here are some key laws that may apply to you if your apartment is located in New York State:

  1. The Roommate Law. Read the answers to frequently asked questions about this law, which generally lets you add roommates without the need for lease modification or even landlord approval.

  2. Human Rights Law. The Empire State protects more groups of people from housing discrimination than the federal Fair Housing Act.

    Find out which additional protected classes New York adds, and how you can file a complaint with New York State if you believe you're the victim of illegal discrimination.

Important New York City Landlord-Tenant Laws

Many additional laws exist throughout New York State on the local level that govern aspects of apartment living. Here are laws that you should be aware of if you choose to rent an apartment in New York City:

  1. The Tenant Fair Chance Act. If a landlord rejects your rental application based on a court action that doesn't concern you (perhaps because it was someone with the same name), you don't need to worry. Big Apple renters have the law on their side when it comes to rectifying this type of frustrating situation.

  2. Heat and hot water requirements. You've got the right to have your home heated when it's cold outside, and to have hot water at your disposal throughout the year, regardless of where in the city you live. Read the answers to commonly asked questions about New York City's heat and hot water requirements.

  3. The Pet Law. No pets allowed in your apartment building? A key law on the books in New York City lets tenants keep pets in their apartments despite what their lease or landlord might say. Find out how you can determine whether your situation fits this exception.

  4. Human Rights Law. Like New York State, New York City has its own Human Rights Law, which includes additional protections for tenants and prospects against unfair housing discrimination. Find out how you can file a complaint with the city if you believe you've become the victim of illegal discrimination.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.