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More About Tenant’s Rights...

From the Metropolitan Council on Housing

Your Rights As A New York City Tenant.(Tenants living in privately owned buildings in New York City containing at least three apartments have the rights listed below.)

Your landlord is required to seek a warrant for your eviction from a court and you have a right to defend yourself. It is illegal for your landlord to remove you or your possessions, prevent you from entering your apartment, or discontinue services such as water, heat or electricity, and such actions should be reported to the police. These rights apply to anyone who lives in a dwelling unit for thirty or more days including roommates and others not named on a lease. In an eviction case for nonpayment of rent, at any time before the warrant of eviction is issued you may request a stay (hold) of the issuance of a warrant of eviction by depositing the rent due and the costs of the proceeding in housing court.

Your landlord must maintain standards of habitability. The warranty of habitability requires that your landlord maintain your building in good repair, keep the hallways and public areas clean paint your apartment every three years and exterminate rats, mice, roaches, bedbugs, other vermin, and deal with any other matter dangerous to life or health, in a timely manner. The landlord must also maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and ventilating systems and appliances installed by the landlord in good working order.

Heat and Hot Water
Every tenant has the right to hot water all year long at all times at a minimum temperature of 120° F, and to adequate heat from October 1 through May 31 with an inside temperature of 68° F from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. when the outside temperature is below 55° F, and an inside temperature of 55° F from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. when the outside temperature is below 40° F.

Taking Your Landlord To Court
If your landlord does not maintain the building and/or your apartment, or fails to provide reliable services, you can go to your borough’s housing court by yourself or with other tenants in your building and start a court case called a Housing Part (HP) action against your landlord, and request the court to order repairs or the restoration of services.

It is illegal for landlords and their agents to discriminate in the rental of housing, or the provision of services, based on actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, presence of children, lawful occupation, sexual orientation or immigration status. In buildings with six or more dwelling tenants are also protected against discrimination based on a lawful source of income: the landlord may not refused to rent to a tenant based on his or her to pay using section 8 or another rent subsidy or to refuse such subsidy from an existing tenant. If you have been discriminated against you may contact the New York city Human Rights Commission by calling 311.

Quiet Enjoyment
You have the right to the quiet enjoyment of your apartment and are entitled to be free of nuisance or harassment by your landlord or other tenants. It is your landlord's responsibility to address ongoing nuisances that are within their control.

You have the right to have family members reside with you so long as the apartment does not become overcrowded. If only one person has signed a lease, you also have the right to share your apartment with one other adult not related to you and that person's dependent children, but overcharging roommates in rent stabilized apartments is illegal and can put you at risk of eviction. Exceptions and restrictions to the rights to share your apartment apply for tenants receiving Section 8, a senior citizen rent increase exemption (SCRIE) or a disability rent increase exemption (DRIE) or other rental assistance, and for tenants in housing programs where rent is based on income-eligibility. Always check your program's rules before taking in another household member.

Assigning or subletting leasesIn privately owned buildings with at least four units, your landlord may not unreasonably deny your request to sublet your apartment. If you ask to assign the rest of your lease and if the request is reasonable your landlord must either agree to the assignment or release you from your lease obligations. Tenants must follow specific rules when seeking to sublet or assign their apartment, and a failure to follow these rules may be grounds for eviction. Tenants with Section 8, a senior citizen rent increase exemption, or a disability rent increase exemption other rental assistance programs, or in housing where rent is based on income eligibility, may not have such rights to sublet and assign while participating in the programs always check your program's rules.

Seniors and Tenants With Disabilities
For tenants living in rent stabilized, rent controlled, and Mitchell-Lama apartments: If you are sixty-two years of age or older or a disabled tenant, and you pay one-third or more of your income in rent, your income falls below a certain income threshold, you can apply to have your rent frozen through the senior citizen rent increase exemption (SCRIE) or disability rent increase exemption (DRIE) programs. You may apply for such programs through the Department of Finance by calling 311. Seniors and disabled tenants also have unique protections against certain types of evictions.

Tenant organizations
You have the right to form, join, and participate in a tenant's organization for the purpose of protecting your rights. Tenants organizations have the right to use common areas of the building – including the lobby if a community room is not available – free of charge for meetings. Your landlord is forbidden by law to harass you for tenant-organizing activities.

Additional rights of Rent-Regulated Tenants
Rents stabilized and rent controlled tenants (rent regulated tenants) are subject to specific laws governing among other things maximum legal rents, causes for eviction, and leases. If you are a rent regulated tenant, you have certain rights relating to:

Lease renewals and riders
With some exceptions landlords cannot and the tenancy of rent regulated tenants without good cause. In most cases when tenants are in compliance with their leases rent controlled tenants have rights to continuous occupancy, and rent-stabilized tenants must be offered the option of either a one or two-year renewal lease, but if a renewal is not offered the old lease remains in effect. Rent stabilized tenants are not obligated to sign any riders or amendments that change the terms of their original lease.

Rent increases
In rent regulated units, an apartment's unique history determines its legal maximum rent. Increases for rent controlled tenants are governed by the maximum base rent (MBR) system. Rent increases for rent-stabilized tenants may not exceed the guidelines set annually by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. Landlords can also apply for increases for major capital improvements (MCIs) or individual apartment improvements (IAIs) for certain types of work, using specific guidelines and formulas. Tenants have an opportunity to review a landlord’s major capital improvement application and challenge inconsistencies or violations of regulations. Tenants may avoid individual apartment improvements rent increases for broken appliances by asking for them to be replaced with used working ones rather than new ones. Individual apartment improvements performed during vacancy can be challenged by the subsequent tenant by filing a rent overcharge complaint with New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

Certain family members (including non-traditional family members) who live with a regulated tenant for a period of time before the primary tenant moves or dies have the right to take over the lease for the apartment under the same terms, conditions, and rent levels.

Rent reductions
Regulated tenants may apply for a reduction of rent with the DHCR for decreased services.

Illegal overcharges
Regulated tenants may investigate and challenge illegal overcharges and seek a rent adjustment plus damages with New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

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