Renting in New York City: 6 Laws You Should Know

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If you are renting in New York City, or anywhere for that matter, it is important to be knowledgeable of the local laws that affect you.

1. Laws Regarding Subletting Your Apartment

Generally speaking, when you are renting in New York City you are not allowed to sublet or sublease your apartment unless it is specifically permitted in the lease terms or you have written consent from the landlord or property owner. The landlord or property owner may deny your request without cause, but if he is unreasonable in withholding the consent to sublet, he is required to release you from your rental obligations. This is important to be aware of so that you don’t do anything to put yourself in breach of your lease terms, which can cause you to incur penalties or a possible lease termination.

2. Laws Regarding Building Associations

It is against the law for a landlord to interfere with tenants in your building forming a building association or other group. The group is also allowed to meet in any common area of your apartment building. This is good to know in certain situations. For example, if your landlord is not upkeeping the building, rather than individually filing complaints, your building’s tenants may want to form a building association. The landlord cannot disallow or interfere with this.

3. Laws Regarding Month to Month Lease Terminations

If you have a month to month lease when renting in New York City, your landlord is required to provide you with at least 30 days notice that he is electing to terminate your lease. This notice must be delivered in writing, and if not adhered to, the landlord may take steps towards eviction. It is important to be aware of this, so that if your landlord notifies you as such, you take the date seriously, and you start looking for a new place to live immediately. 30 days is not a lot of time to find a new apartment in New York City.

4. Laws Regarding Utilities

If your landlord includes utilities in the cost of rent, so that he is the responsible party to pay for those utilities, and for some reason or another he does not, he is liable for damages for discontinued utility service. In other words, if your rent includes gas and electric, and your landlord forgot to pay the bill so you are without gas and electric for a week, he is liable for damages to you, the tenant. This does happen, so it is good to know your rights.

5. Laws Regarding Heat Requirements

In New York City, landlords are required to keep an apartment building heated. These laws are in effect from October through May. During the day, when it is 55 degrees or less outside it must be 68 degrees or more inside, and at night when it is 40 degrees or less outside it must be 55 degrees or more inside. Heat complaints are very common in New York City, and you are entitles (and should) file a complaint if you do not have adequate heat.

6. Laws Regarding Broker’s Fees

Make sure you are aware of your broker’s fees because they are not regulated by law. That being said, no fees can be charged if the broker doesn’t find you an apartment.

Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.

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