"TENANT'S RIGHTS" was issued by former New York State Attorney
General Robert Abrams in 1987 and is another good and easily
understood compilation of tenants' rights.

The reader is cautioned that the rent laws have changed in
certain respects since this booklet was last revised and advised
to seek a clarification of recent amendments.



Fourth Edition 1987

State of New York
Department of Law
120 Broadway
New York, NY 10271

Attorney General

Dear New Yorker:

With today's tight rental market, rising rents, buildings going
co-op, and apartments getting harder to find, it is vital that
tenants throughout New York State know about the laws affecting
rental housing.

More and more New Yorkers are writing to me and visiting my
offices throughout the state asking for advice on landlord/tenant
matters. That is why I have published this handbook which
summarizes and explains the laws tenants need to know. I hope
that this book is helpful to you.

Tenants have important rights under rent stabilization and rent
control laws which limit rent increases and require certain
levels of service. On April 1, 1984, the entire rent regulatory
system became administered by the State Division of Housing and
Community Renewal (DHCR). Tenants now file complaints with that
agency to help protect their rights.

Tenants faced with the possibility that their building will be
converted to cooperative or condominium ownership should write
Free copies are available from my offices listed at the end of
this book.

New Yorkers who need additional assistance or information about
landlord/tenant matters should write or visit my nearest local


Robert Abrams



1.   Warranty of Habitability
2.   Landlord's Duty of Repair
3.   Leases
4.   Plain English Lease
5.   Unconscionable Lease Clauses
6.   Month-to-Month Tenants
7.   Eviction
8.   Landlords' Negligence
9.   Attorneys' Fees
10.  Tenants' Organizations
11.  Retaliation
12.  Right of Privacy
13.  Discrimination
14.  Real Estate Brokers
15.  Apartment Referral Agencies
16.  Key Money
17.  Rent Security Deposits
18.  Rent Receipts
19.  Rent Overcharging
20.  Subletting or Assigning Leases
21.  Apartment Sharing
22.  Safety
23.  Entrance Door Locks and Intercoms
24.  Lobby Attendant Service
25.  Elevator Mirrors
26.  Locks, Peepholes and Mail
27.  Smoke Detectors
28.  Window Guards
29.  Lead Paint
30.  Pets
31.  Heating Season
32.  Truth In Heating
33.  Continuation of Utility Service
34.  Oil Payments
35.  Mobile Home Park Tenants
36.  Loft Tenants
37.  Residential Hotels
38.  For Further Information



The rights of tenants in New York State are protected by a
variety of laws. The Multiple Dwelling Law applies in New York
City and Buffalo. The Multiple Residence Law covers all cities of
fewer than 400,000 people and all towns and villages. (A multiple
dwelling has three or more apartments.) These and other laws are
cited, where they apply.


Tenants are entitled to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment.
Lease provisions inconsistent with this right are illegal.
Failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or to
rid an apartment of insect infestation are examples of a
violation of this warranty. Public areas of the building are also
covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of
habitability also applies to cooperative apartments. (Real
Property Law Sec. 235-b)

If a landlord breaches the warranty, the tenant may sue for a
rent reduction. The tenant may also withhold rent, but in
response, the landlord may sue the tenant for non-payment of
rent. In such a case, the tenant may counter-sue for breach of
the warranty.

Rent reductions may be ordered if a court finds that the landlord
violated the warranty of habitability. The reduction is computed
by subtracting from the actual rent the estimated value of the
apartment without the essential services.

A landlord's liability for damages is limited when the failure to
provide services is the result of a union-wide building workers'
strike. However, a court may award damages to a tenant equal to a
share of the landlord's net savings because of the strike.
Landlords will be liable for lack of services caused by a strike
when they have not made a good faith attempt, where practicable,
to provide services.

In emergencies, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct
reasonable repair costs from the rent. For example, when a
landlord has been notified that a door lock is broken and
willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a locksmith
and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should keep receipts
for such repairs.


Landlords of buildings with three or more apartments must keep
the apartments and the buildings' public areas in "good repair."
Landlords are required to maintain electrical, plumbing,
sanitary, heating, and ventilating systems in good and safe
working order. Landlords must also keep in good working order
appliances they install, such as refrigerators and stoves.
Landlords also have a legal duty to keep every part of a multiple
dwelling clean and free of vermin, dirt, garbage or other
offensive material. Tenants should bring complaints to the
attention of their local housing officials. (Multiple Dwelling
Law Sec. 78; 80; Multiple Residence Law Sec. 174)


A lease is a contract between a landlord and tenant which
contains the terms and conditions of the rental. It cannot be
changed while it is in effect unless both parties agree. A lease
may be oral or written. However, an oral lease for more than one
year cannot be enforced. (General Obligations Law Sec. 5-701)

Tenants who rent apartments not covered by rent stabilization or
rent control must negotiate the rent, the duration of the rental,
and the conditions of occupancy with their landlords. These
matters must also be negotiated when the lease is up for renewal.

Some leases contain an automatic renewal clause. Because this can
be a trap for unwary tenants, landlords are required to give
tenants advance notice of the existence of an automatic renewal
clause. Landlords must give this notice between 15 and 30 days
before the tenant is required to notify the landlord of an
intention not to renew the lease. (General Obligations Law Sec. 5-

Unless the lease states otherwise, the landlord is obligated to
deliver possession of the apartment to the tenant at the
beginning of the tenancy. If the landlord fails to do so, the
tenant has the right to cancel the lease and obtain a full refund
of any deposit. (Real Property Law Sec. 223-a)

A lease provision which requires a tenant to pledge his/her
household furniture as security for rent is void. (Real Property
Law Sec. 231)

Tenants protected by rent stabilization have the right to either
a one or two year lease when they move into an apartment and when
they renew their leases. The renewal leases for rent stabilized
tenants must be on the same terms and conditions as the prior
lease and rent increases, if any, are limited by law.

New York City rent stabilized tenants are entitled to receive
from their landlords a fully executed copy of their signed lease
no more than 30 days after the tenant signs the lease. The
lease's beginning and ending date must be stated. (L. 1984 Ch.


Leases must use words with common and everyday meanings and must
be clear and coherent. Sections of leases must be appropriately
captioned and the print must be large enough to read easily.
(General Obligations Law Sec. 5-702; C.P.L.R. Sec. 4544)


Most landlords use printed form leases which they ask tenants to
sign on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The law does not require
that any particular lease be used. Since tenants often have no
meaningful opportunity to reject lease provisions, the courts may
refuse to enforce a provision found to be unreasonably favorable
to the landlord. Nevertheless, read your lease and all riders
carefully before you sign. Do not rely on oral promises; make
sure that all promises and agreements are written in the lease
before signing it. It is wise to consult an attorney if you have
any questions about your lease. (Real Property Law Sec. 235-c)


Tenants who do not have leases and pay rent on a monthly basis
are called month-to-month tenants.

In localities without rent regulations, tenants who stay past the
end of a lease are treated as month-to-month tenants if the
landlord accepts their rent.

A month-to-month tenancy may be terminated by either party by
giving at least one month notice before the expiration of the
term. For example, suppose your rent is due on the first of each
month. Your landlord must tell you by September 30th before your
October rent is due that he wants you to move out by November
1st. The termination notice need not specify why the landlord
seeks possession of the apartment.

A landlord cannot unilaterally raise the rent of a month-to-month
tenant without the consent of the tenant. However, if the tenant
does not consent, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by
giving appropriate notice.

In New York City, the landlord must serve the tenant a written
termination giving 30 days notice before the expiration of the
term. The notice must state that the landlord elects to terminate
the tenancy and that refusal to vacate will lead to eviction

A termination notice does not automatically allow the landlord to
evict the tenant. The landlord must first bring an eviction
proceeding in court and prove the case. (Real Property Law Sec.
232-a; Sec. 232-b; Sec. 232-c)


To evict a tenant a landlord must sue in court and win the case.
Only a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out a court
ordered warrant to evict a tenant. (RPAPL Sec. 749)

A landlord cannot take the law into his/her own hands and evict a
tenant by use of force or unlawful means, For example, a landlord
cannot use threats of violence, remove a tenant's possessions,
lock the tenant out of the apartment, or willfully discontinue
essential services such as water or heat. (Real Property Law Sec.

A tenant who is put out of his/her apartment in a forcible or
unlawful manner is entitled to recover treble damages in a legal
action against the wrongdoer. Landlords in New York City who use
illegal methods to force a tenant to move are also subject to
both criminal and civil penalties. Further, the tenant is
entitled to be restored to occupancy. (RPAPL Sec. 5 713, Sec.
853; N.Y.C. Local Law 56, 1982)

When a tenant is evicted, the landlord has no right to retain the
tenant's personal belongings or furniture.

It is wise to consult an attorney to protect your legal rights if
your landlord seeks possession of your apartment. Never ignore
legal papers.


Lease provisions which exempt landlords from liability for
injuries to persons or property caused by the landlord's
negligence -- or that of his employees -- are null and void.
Further, a lease provision that waives the tenant's right to a
Jury trial in any lawsuit against a landlord for personal injury
or property damage is also null and void. (General Obligations
Law Sec. 5-321; Real Property Law 5 259-c)


Many leases provide that landlords are entitled to collect
attorneys' fees from tenants. Under this provision, tenants who
successfully sue their landlords automatically have the same
right to recover reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses from the
landlord whether the lease says so, or not. (Real Property Law
Sec. 234)


Tenants have a legal right to organize. They may form, join, and
participate in tenants' organizations for the purpose of
protecting their rights. Landlords may not harass or penalize
tenants who exercise this right.

Tenants' groups have the right to meet at reasonable hours in any
common area in their building, such as lobbies and halls. (Real
Property Law Sec. 230)


Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against
tenants who exercise their rights. For example, landlords may not
seek to evict tenants solely because tenants (a) make good faith
complaints to a government agency about violations of any health
or safety laws; or (b) take good faith actions to protect rights
under their lease; or (c) participate in tenants' organizations:
Tenants may collect damages from landlords who violate this law,
which applies to all rentals except owner-occupied dwellings with
fewer than four units. (Real Property Law Sec. 223-b)


Tenants have the right to privacy within their apartments.
However, a landlord may enter a tenant's apartment with
reasonable prior notice, and at a reasonable time: (a) to provide
necessary or agreed upon repairs or services; or (b) in
accordance with the lease; or (c) to show the apartment to
prospective purchasers or tenants. In emergencies, such as fires,
the landlord may enter the apartment without the tenant's
consent. A landlord may not abuse this limited right of entry or
use it to harass a tenant.


Landlords may not refuse to lease accommodations to, refuse to
renew leases of, or otherwise discriminate against any person or
group of persons because of race, creed, color, national origin,
sex, disability, age or marital status. (Executive Law Sec.

Landlords may not refuse to lease an apartment or discriminate
against any person in the terms and conditions of the rental
because that person has children living with them. For example,
landlords may not impose a so-called "family surcharge."
Aggrieved families may bring a lawsuit for damages and for an
injunction against a landlord who violates this law. (Real
Property Law Sec. 236)

In addition, a lease may not require that tenants agree to remain
childless during their tenancy. (Real Property Law Sec. 237)

In New York City, landlords may not refuse to lease an apartment
solely for residential purposes or discriminate in the terms and
conditions of the rental because of a person's lawful occupation.
For example, a landlord's "no lawyer" or "no actor" rental policy
is prohibited. Aggrieved tenants should complain to the New York
City Human Rights Commission. (NYC Local Law 59, 1486)


Consumers may retain a real estate broker to find a suitable
apartment. The state licenses real estate brokers and
salespersons. Brokers charge a commission for their services
which is usually a stated percentage of the first year's rent.
The amount of the commission is not set by law and should be
negotiated between the parties. The broker must assist you in
finding and obtaining an apartment before he may charge you a
commission. The fee should not be paid until you are offered a
lease signed by the landlord. Complaints against real estate
brokers should be brought to the attention of the New York
Department of State. (Real Property Law, Article 12-A)


Businesses that for advance fees provide information about the
location and availability of rental housing must be licensed by
the state. The fees charged by these firms may not exceed one
month's rent. When the information the firms provide does not
result in a rental, the entire pre-paid fee, less $15.00, must be
returned to the tenant. Criminal prosecutions for violations of
this law may be brought by the Attorney General. (Real Property
Law, Article 12-C)


It is illegal for a landlord, superintendent or managing agent to
require a prospective tenant to pay a bonus -- commonly called
"key money" -- above the lawful rent and security deposit for
preference in renting a vacant apartment,


Virtually all leases require tenants to give their landlords a
security deposit. The security deposit is generally limited to
one month's rent if the apartment is covered by the Rent
Stabilization Law. The landlord must return the security deposit,
less any lawful deduction, to the tenant at the end of the lease
or within a reasonable time thereafter. A landlord may use the
security deposit only: (a) as reimbursement for the reasonable
cost of repairs beyond normal wear and tear, if the tenant
damages the apartment; and (b) as reimbursement for any unpaid

The law requires all landlords, regardless of the number of units
in the building, to treat the deposits as trust funds belonging
to their tenants. Landlords are prohibited from mingling the
deposits with their own money. Landlords of buildings with six or
more apartments must put all security deposits in New York bank
accounts earning interest at the prevailing rate. Each tenant
must be informed in writing of the bank's name and address and
the amount of the deposit. Landlords are entitled to annual
administrative expenses of 1% of the deposit. All other interest
earned on the deposits belongs to the tenants. Tenants must be
given the option of having this interest paid to them annually,
applied to rent, or paid at the end of the lease.

If the building has fewer than six apartments, a landlord who
voluntarily places the security deposits in an interest bearing
bank account must also pay interest to tenants and may retain the
same 1% annual administrative fee.

These rules also apply to mobile home parks.

For example: A tenant pays a security deposit of $400.00. The
landlord places the deposit in an interest bearing bank account
paying 5.5%. At the end of the year the account will have earned
interest of $22.00. The tenant is entitled to $18.00 and the
landlord may retain $4.00, 1% of the deposit, as an
administrative fee.

If the building is sold, the landlord must transfer all security
deposits to the new owner within five days, or return the
security deposits to the tenants. Landlords must notify the
tenants, by registered or certified mail, of the name and address
of the new owner.

Purchasers of rent stabilized buildings in New York City or in
Westchester, Nassau or Rockland Counties are directly responsible
to tenants for the return of security deposits and any interest.
This responsibility exists whether or not the new owner received
the security deposits from the former landlord.

Purchasers of rent-controlled buildings or buildings containing
six or more apartments where tenants have written leases are
directly responsible to tenants for the return of security
deposits and interest in cases where the purchaser has "actual
knowledge" of the security deposits. The law defines specifically
when a new owner is deemed to have "actual knowledge" of the
security deposits.

When problems arise tenants should first try to resolve them with
the landlord before taking other action. If a dispute cannot be
resolved, contact the nearest local office of the Attorney
General, listed at the end of this booklet. (General Obligations
Law, Article 7)


Landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt when rent
is paid in cash, a money order, a cashier's check or in any form
other than the personal check or a tenant. The receipt must state
the payment date, the amount, the period for which the rent was
paid, and the apartment number. The receipt must be signed by the
person receiving the payment and state his or her title. (Real
Property Law Sec. 235-e)


In New York City and certain communities in Nassau, Rockland and
Westchester counties where rent stabilization laws apply, the
landlord may not charge more than the legal regulated rent.

Under the new housing law enacted in 1983, landlords must
register each rent stabilized apartment with the state Division
of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and provide tenants with
a copy of the registration statement. Landlords were required to
register initially prior to July 1, 1984. The initial
registration form contains the rent charged on April 1, 1984 and
the services and equipment provided to the apartment. The legal
regulated rent is either (1) the registered rent, unless
challenged by the tenant within 90 days of the mailing or
delivery to the tenant of the registration statement; or (2) the
rent set by DHCR, if the registered rent is successfully
challenged. If successfully challenged, the landlord is liable to
the tenant for any overcharge that was collected within the past
four years. The tenant is also entitled to recover interest plus
reasonable costs and attorney's fees for the overcharge

Where a rent overcharge occurs after initial registration, a
tenant must file a complaint within four years of the date of the
first overcharge claimed. Landlords are liable for the amount of
the overcharge plus interest from the date of the overcharge for
the period beginning four years before the complaint is filed.
The tenant is also entitled to recover reasonable costs and
attorney's fees for the overcharge proceeding..

In addition, if the overcharge is willful, the landlord is liable
for a penalty of three times the amount of the overcharge. The
landlord has the burden of proving the overcharge is not willful.
However, this treble damages penalty is limited to two years and
does not apply to an overcharge which occurred prior to April 1,

Over $14 million. in rent overcharges have been refunded to rent
stabilized tenants as a result of investigations by the Attorney
General's office: Contact the Attorney General's office if you
believe that your landlord has engaged in a pattern of rent


Subletting and assignment are methods of transferring the
tenant's legal interest in an apartment to another person. A
sublet transfers less than the tenant's entire interest while an
assignment transfers the entire interest. A tenant's right to
assign the lease is much more restricted than the right to

A tenant may not assign the lease without the landlord's written
consent. The landlord may withhold consent without cause. If the
landlord reasonably refuses consent, the tenant cannot assign and
is not entitled to be released from the lease. If the landlord
unreasonably refuses consent, the tenant is entitled to be
released from the lease after 30 days notice.

Tenants with leases who live in buildings with four or more
apartments have the right to sublet with the landlord's advance
consent. The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent.

If the landlord consents to the sublet, the tenant remains liable
to the landlord for the obligations of the lease. If the landlord
denies the sublet on reasonable grounds the tenant cannot sublet
and the landlord is not required to release the tenant from the
lease. A court must decide whether the particular grounds given
are reasonable.

If the landlord denies the sublet on unreasonable grounds, the
tenant may sublet. If a lawsuit results, the tenant may recover
court costs and attorney's fees if a judge rules that the
landlord denied the sublet in bad faith.

These steps must be followed by tenants wishing to sublet:

1)   The tenant must send a written request to the landlord by
     certified mail, return-receipt requested. The request must
     contain the following information: (a) the length of the
     sublease; (b) the name, home and business address of the
     proposed subtenant; (c) the reason for subletting; (d) the
     tenant's address during the sublet; (e) the written consent
     of any co-tenant or guarantor; (f) a copy of the proposed
     sublease together with a copy of the tenant's own lease, if

2)   Within 10 days after the mailing of this request, the
     landlord may ask the tenant for additional information to
     help make a decision. Any request for additional information
     may not be unduly burdensome.

3)   Within 30 days after the mailing of the tenant's request to
     sublet or the additional information requested by the
     landlord, whichever is later, the landlord must send the
     tenant a notice of consent, or if consent is denied, the
     reasons for denial. A landlord's failure to send this
     written notice is considered consent to sublet.

4)   A landlord cannot use a lease clause requiring a tenant to
     waive the right to sublet.

5)   A sublet or assignment which does not comply with the law
     may be grounds for eviction.

In addition to these sublet rules, there are additional
requirements limited to rent stabilized tenants. These rules
include the following:

(a)  The rent charged to the subtenant cannot exceed the
     stabilized rent except in the case of a furnished sublet
     when the tenant may collect an additional 10%. A subtenant
     who is overcharged may sue the prime tenant to recover
     treble damages plus interest and attorney's fees.

(b)  The prime tenant must establish that at all times he/she has
     maintained the apartment as a primary residence and intends
     to reoccupy it at the end of the sublet.

(c)  The prime tenant, not the subtenant, retains the rights to a
     renewal lease and any rights resulting from a co-op
     conversion. The term of a sublease may extend beyond the
     term of the prime tenant's lease. The tenant may not sublet
     for more than two years within any four-year period. (Real
     Property Law Sec. 226-b, RSL Sec. YY51-6.0(12))


It is unlawful for a landlord by a lease clause to restrict
occupancy of an apartment to the named tenant in the lease or to
that tenant and immediate family. When the lease names only one
tenant, that tenant may share the apartment with immediate
family, one additional occupant and the occupant's dependent

When the lease names more than one tenant, these tenants may
share their apartment with immediate family, and, if one of the
tenants named in the lease moves out, that tenant may be replaced
with another occupant and the dependent children of the occupant.
At least one of the tenants named in the lease or that tenant's
spouse must occupy the shared apartment as his or her primary

Tenants must inform their landlords of the name of any occupant
within 30 days after the occupant has moved into the apartment or
within 30 days of a landlord's request for this information. If
the tenant named in the lease moves out, the remaining occupant
has no right to continue in occupancy without the landlord's
express consent.

Landlords may continue to limit the total number of people living
in an apartment to comply with legal overcrowding standards.

Tenants can sue landlords who violate this law for an injunction,
actual damages and court costs. (Real Property Law Sec. 235-f)


Tenants who are victims of crimes in their building or apartment,
and who are able to prove that the criminal took advantage of the
landlord's failure to make the building reasonably safe, may be
able to recover personal and property damages from the landlord.


Multiple dwellings which were built or converted to such use
after January l, 1968 must have automatic self-closing and self-
locking doors at all entrances. These doors must be kept locked
at all times -- except when an attendant is on duty.

If this type of building contains eight or more apartments it
must also have a two-way voice intercom system from each
apartment to the front door and tenants must be able to "buzz"
open the entrance door for visitors.

Multiple dwellings built or converted to such use prior to
January l, 1968 also must have self-locking doors and a two-way
intercom system if requested by a majority of the tenants.
Landlords may recover from tenants the cost of providing this
equipment. (Multiple Dwelling Law Sec. 50-a)


Tenants of multiple dwellings with eight or more apartments, are
entitled to maintain a lobby attendant service for their safety
and security, whenever any attendant provided by the landlord is
not on duty. (Multiple Dwelling Law Sec. 50-c)


There must be a mirror in each self-service elevator in multiple
dwellings so that people may see -- prior to entering -if anyone
is already in the elevator. (Multiple Dwelling law Sec. 51-b)


Tenants in multiple dwellings can install and maintain their own
locks on their apartment entrance doors in addition to the lock
supplied by the landlord. The lock may be no more than three
inches in circumference, and tenants must provide their landlord
with a duplicate key upon request.

The landlord must provide a peephole in the entrance door of each
apartment. Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must
also install a chain-door guard on the entrance door to each
apartment so as to permit partial opening of the door. (Multiple
Dwelling Law Sec. 51-a, 51-c; NYC Admin. Code Sec. D26-20.05)

United States Postal regulations require landlords of buildings
containing three or more apartments to provide secure mail boxes
for each apartment unless the management has arranged to
distribute the mail to each apartment. Landlords must keep the
mail boxes and locks in good repair.


Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must install one
or more approved smoke detectors in each apartment, within 15
feet of any room used for sleeping. Tenants may be asked to
reimburse the owner up to $10.00 for the cost of purchasing and
installing each battery-operated detector. During the first year
of use, landlords must repair or replace any broken detector if
its malfunction is not the tenant's fault. Tenants should test
their detectors frequently to make sure they work properly. (NYC
Local Law 62, 1981)


Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must install
government approved window guards in each window in any apartment
where a child ten years old or younger lives. Tenants are
required to have such guards installed. In other cases, landlords
are required to install window guards provided the tenant
requests them. Windows giving access to fire escapes are
excluded. Protective guards must also be installed on the windows
of all public hallways. Landlords must give tenants an annual
notice about their rights to window guards and must provide this
information in a lease rider. Rent controlled and stabilized
tenants may be charged for these guards. (NYC Health Code Sec.
131.15, Local Law 33, 1986)


Landlords of apartments in multiple dwellings in New York City
where a child 6 years old or younger lives must protect against
the possibility that children will eat peeling paint chips
containing dangerous lead based paint. Landlords must remove or
cover apartment walls and other areas painted with lead based
paint. The law presumes that lead based paint was used if the
paint is peeling in an apartment in a building built prior to
January 1, 1960. (NYC Local Law 1, 1982)


Tenants may keep pets in their apartments if their lease permits
pets or is silent on the subject. Landlords may be able to evict
tenants who violate a lease provision prohibiting pets. But
tenants in multiple dwellings in New York City have important
protection against no pet lease clauses. Where a tenant has "open
and notoriously" kept a pet for at least three months and the
owner of the building or his agent has knowledge of this fact,
then the landlord waives a no pet clause. However, this
protection does not apply where the animal causes damage, is a
nuisance or substantially interferes with other tenants. (NYC
Administrative Code Sec. D: 26-10.10)

Tenants who are blind or deaf are permitted to have guide dogs
regardless of a no pet clause in their lease. (Civil Rights Law
Sec. 47)


Heat must be supplied from October 1 through May 31, to tenants
in multiple dwellings if: a) the outdoor temperature falls below
55 degrees Fahrenheit, between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M. each apartment
must be heated to a temperature of at least 68 degrees
Fahrenheit; (b) the outdoor temperature falls below 40 degrees
Fahrenheit, between the hours of 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. each
apartment must be heated to a temperature of at least 55 degrees
Fahrenheit. (Multiple Dwelling Law Sec. 79)


Before signing a lease requiring payment of individual heating
and cooling bills, prospective tenants are entitled to receive a
complete set or summary of the past two years' bills. These
copies must be provided free upon written request. This law
encourages landlords to make buildings more energy efficient and
helps prospective tenants to more accurately calculate their
expenses. The State Energy Office can help tenants with related
problems. (Energy Law Sec. 17-103)


When the landlord of a multiple dwelling is delinquent in paying
utility bills, the utility must give advance written notice to
tenants and to certain government agencies of its intent to
discontinue service. Service may not be discontinued if tenants
pay the landlord's current bill directly to the utility company.
Tenants can deduct these charges from future rent payments. The
Public Service Commission can assist tenants with related

If a multiple dwelling's landlord fails to pay a utility bill and
service is discontinued, tenants can receive payment for damages
from the landlord. (Real Property Law Sec. 235-a; Public Service
Law Sec. 33)


Tenants in oil heated multiple dwellings may contract with an oil
dealer, and pay for oil deliveries to their building, when the
landlord fails to assure a sufficient fuel supply. These payments
are deductible from rent. Local housing officials have lists of
oil dealers who will make fuel deliveries under these
circumstances. (Multiple Dwelling Law Sec. 302-c; Multiple
Residence Law Sec. 305-c )


Mobile home park tenants must be offered initially at least a one
year lease. This offer must be made in writing and prior to a
tenant's occupancy.

Tenants may not be evicted without statutory cause such as non-
payment of rent or continuing in occupancy after expiration of
the term of tenancy. Tenants who breach lease provisions or rules
and regulations must be afforded a ten-day right to cure the
breach before the owner may commence eviction proceedings.

No tenant may be charged a fee for other than rent, utilities and
charges for facilities and available services. All fees and
charges must be reasonably related to services actually

Park owners must provide a 90-day written notice to tenants who
do not have leases, prior to an increase in rent or other

A copy of all rules and regulations must be furnished to tenants
at the commencement of occupancy. The rules must be posted in the
park and cannot be changed until all tenants receive at least 30
days prior written notice. Owners may not adopt unreasonable
rules. Late rent payment charges are limited to no more than 5
percent of any unpaid balance after a 10 day-grace period.

Mobile home park tenants enjoy many of the same legal rights as
apartment tenants. For example, the warranty of habitability
requires the owner to maintain properly all common areas and
roads in the park. Owners may not discriminate against families
with children.

Park tenants have the right to sell their mobile homes within the
park during the lease period on prior notice to the owner. An
owner who rejects a tenant's prospective purchaser must inform
the tenant in writing of the reasons for the rejection. A tenant
may recover legal costs and attorney's fees if it is found that a
park owner acted in bad faith in withholding permission to sell.

Park owners cannot require tenants to pay them a commission or
fee in connection with the sale of a mobile home unless the park
owner actually acts as a sales agent pursuant to a written

Owners may not foster park monopolies. For example, in an effort
to control park laundry facilities, an owner cannot bar an
outside contractor, hired by the tenant, from installing a
washing machine in the tenant's home.

A mobile home tenant may sue a park owner for actual damages if
the owner violates the tenant's rights. (Real Property Law Sec.


Commercial buildings located in certain areas in New York City
which on December 1, 1981 were occupied as the home of three or
more families since April 1980, must comply with the city's
building code. The costs of compliance will be passed on to
tenants through rent increases over a 10 or 15 year period. Loft
tenants are afforded the protections of the Rent Stabilization

Tenants have the right to sell improvements they have made to
their lofts. They must first offer to sell the improvements to
their landlord at fair market value. If the landlord refuses the
offer, the loft tenant may sell the improvements to the incoming

Tenants should bring complaints to the attention of the New York
City Loft Board. (Multiple Dwelling Law, Article 7-c)


An investigation by the Attorney General's Office demonstrated
that many New York City apartment houses are masquerading as
hotels to take advantage of hotel stabilization status. Hotels
that no longer provide customary hotel services (maid service,
linens, furnishings and front desk) may be placed under apartment
stabilization by DHCR. Hotels mat no longer charge a free market
rent when an apartment becomes vacant, but are limited to
increases prescribed by the Rent Guidelines Board. (L. 1983 ch.
403 and 448).


The entire rent regulatory system is administered by the State
Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Their offices of rent
administration are listed below:


New York City
One Fordham Plaza
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 563-5678

Office of Rent Administration
Queens Rent Office
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, N.Y. 11431
(718) 739-6400


Lower Manhattan
156 William Street
New York, N.Y. 10007
(212) 240-6000

Upper Manhattan
Adam Clayton Powell,
State Office Bldg.
163 W. 125th Street,
New York, N.Y. 10027
(212) 870-8930

250 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 643-7570

Staten Island
350 St. Marks P1., Room 105
Staten Island, N.Y. 10301
(718) 816-0277

Nassau County
50 Clinton Avenue,
6th fl. - Room 605
Hempstead, N.Y. 11550
(516) 481-9494

Westchester County
55 Church Street, 3rd fl.
White Plains, N.Y. 10601
(914) 948-4434

RENT HOTLINE: (718) 739-6400
(rent stabilization & rent control)


156 Williams Street
New York, NY 10007
(212) 240-6021

Hampton Plaza
38-40 State Street
Albany, NY 12207
(518) 473-2517

Ellicott Square Bldg.
295 Main Street, Rm. 446
Buffalo, N.Y. 14203
(716) 856-1382


New York State Public Service Commission
400 Broome Street, Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-3550

New York State Energy Office
Two Rockefeller Plaza
Albany, NY 12223
(800) 342-3722

State of New York, Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
270 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
(212) 587-5747
(real estate brokers, agents)

Additional free copies of Revised Edition Tenant's Rights are
available from the Office of Public Information, New York State
Department of Law, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271 or from any
regional office of Attorney General Robert Abrams.

Written by Assistant Attorney General Sandy Mindell in
conjunction with John Corwin, Assistant Attorney General in
charge of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.

Produced for the Attorney General by the Office of Public
Information, Joan Libby, Director.


The Capitol
Albany, New York 12224                          (518) 474-5481

120 Broadway
New York, New York 10271                        (212) 341-2345

59-61 Court Street, 7th Floor
Binghamton, New York 13901                      (607) 773-7797

65 Court Street
Buffalo, New York 14202                         (716) 847-7184

300 Motor Parkway
Hauppauge, New York 11788                       (516) 231-2400

190 Willis Avenue
Mineola, New York 11501                         (516) 742-3700

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building
163 West 125 Street
New York, New York 10027                        (212) 870-4475

70 Clinton Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901                     (518) 563-8012

235 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601                    (914) 485-3900

144 Exchange Boulevard
Rochester, New York 14614                       (716) 546-7430

615 Erie Boulevard West
Suite 102
Syracuse, New York 13202                        (315) 426-4800

207 Genesee Street
Utica, New York 13501                           (315) 793-2225

317 Washington Street
Watertown, New York 13601                       (315) 785-2444

202 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, New York 10601                    (914) 997-6230

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