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Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo
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Marcos A. Crespo

Dear Friend,

State laws governing housing are complex, and tenants are often not aware of their rights.

I have prepared this brochure to answer some of the fundamental questions concerning your rights as a tenant.

There are also certain housing accommodations in parts of the state covered by special laws governing rent and services. These laws provide additional rights to tenants. You can contact my office to determine if any of these laws apply to you.

If you would like additional copies of this brochure or if you need more information, please let me know.

Marcos A. Crespo
Member of Assembly

1163 Manor Avenue
Bronx, NY 10472

Room 929
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248


Tenants’ Rights & Protections in New York State

Housing code violations
Any problems endangering your health and safety should be reported to the landlord. If the landlord is not available or will not correct the problem, tenants should call their local health or building department; New York City tenants can contact the Department of Housing Preservation and Development or dial 311.

You are allowed to sublease your apartment with the written consent of the landlord in dwellings of four or more residential units. As the original tenant of a subleased apartment, you remain liable for damages and/or defaults in rent. The steps in subletting are:

The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent. If you believe you’ve been unreasonably denied the right to sublet, you can, at your own risk, proceed to sublet. If your landlord takes legal action, but you can prove the landlord acted in bad faith, your legal fees must be reimbursed by the landlord.

Security deposits

A security deposit is a sum of money held by the landlord to cover violations of the lease — e.g., damages — caused by a tenant. As a tenant, you should request a receipt for your security deposit. In buildings with six or more housing units, the landlord must:

In buildings with fewer than six housing units, the landlord is not required to deposit the money in an interest-bearing account. If the landlord decides to deposit the money in a bank, you’re entitled to proper notification and interest, if any, less 1 percent for administrative expenses.

When you move, you should receive a refund of the security deposit. You’re responsible for any damages beyond normal wear and tear, and your landlord may withhold all or part of the security deposit to cover damage or unpaid rent. The landlord can be prosecuted for wrongfully withholding all or part of your security deposit.


Eviction is the legal removal of a person from someone else’s property. The steps in an eviction are:

  1. Tenant defaults in rent payments and/or breaks the terms of the lease or the lease expires.

  2. Landlord serves a petition, which is the start of a case. In some cases, the landlord must serve a notice prior to starting a court action.

  3. Tenant appears in court to contest the eviction and to raise any counterclaims against the landlord; tenants who don’t contest the eviction in court lose the case.

  4. If the landlord wins, the court issues a warrant, to be served by the marshal or sheriff, requesting the tenant’s eviction; the court may issue a monetary judgment against the tenant; if the landlord can’t prove his or her case, the action is dismissed; if the tenant wins a counterclaim, the court issues a judgment against the landlord.

  5. If the case involves nonpayment of rent, the tenant can usually end the action by paying rent before the warrant is issued.

  6. The warrant will be served, giving the tenant 72 hours to vacate.

  7. After 72 hours, the marshal or sheriff can remove the tenant’s belongings from the premises and lock the tenant out.

Landlord retaliation barred

Every lease is a guarantee by a landlord that the premises are fit for human habitation and tenants will not be in danger — a warranty of habitability. Breach of this guarantee can be grounds for a tenant to sue the landlord or, if the landlord started a court action, have the landlord’s action dismissed.

However, tenants are often reluctant to report violations of housing codes or seek enforcement of their legal rights for fear they may be evicted by their landlords. By law, landlords are prohibited from threatening eviction when tenants complain of violations.

For example, in residential rental premises, except owner-occupied dwellings with less than four units, tenants are guaranteed protection against landlord retaliation and cannot be evicted if:



Under state law, landlords are prohibited from allowing any condition which endangers a tenant’s life, health or safety — a warranty of habitability.


*Unless otherwise stated in the lease

Discrimination: It is unlawful to deny a person housing based on his or her race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, disability or marital status.

A lease is a written or spoken agreement — a legal contract stating the terms governing the rental of an apartment or house.

After it is signed, a written lease may not be changed without consent of both parties. Any changes in your lease should be in writing and signed by your landlord.

A spoken agreement lease for up to one year can be enforced.

There is no lease in a month-to-month tenancy, which may be ended by the landlord or the tenant. However, notice must be given at least one month before your next rent payment is due.

Public housing authorities have their own regulations and/or specific lease terms. For your protection, read and understand your lease before signing it. Your lease should always include:

Before you sign a lease

Examine the windows, wiring, insulation, plumbing, walls, floors, stairways, stove, refrigerator, toilet, sinks and heating system. These items should be in good working condition. If they aren’t, try to resolve the matter before signing the lease.

If you already moved in, write to your landlord requesting repairs within a reasonable amount of time. Remember, read the lease carefully and know your legal responsibilities under the lease.

Early lease termination

If you wish to terminate your lease before the allowed time, you must negotiate with your landlord. The landlord may agree to re-rent the dwelling, or you may, in some instances, sublet or assign the apartment.

Senior citizens moving to health care facilities are covered by special protections in the law for early lease termination.


Between Oct. 1 and May 31, the landlord must provide heating equipment, which can maintain the following room temperatures in a building with three or more units:

Contact my office to find out if any of these special laws apply to your apartment.