Table of Contents Show
- Know the Anti-Discrimination Laws
- Dealing with Problems
- Returning Security Deposits
- Make it Livable
- Make your Disclosures
- Rent Control/Stabilization
- Tips for First-time New York City Landlords
New York City is known to have one of the nation’s more favorable laws toward tenants. If you consider making a real estate investment in the city, it behooves you to understand the landlord’s responsibilities you are undertaking. You must also comply with state laws and unique city rules for rent control and rent stabilization apartments.
Know the Anti-Discrimination Laws Know the Anti-Discrimination Laws
The Federal Fair Housing Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law prohibit discrimination in housing. Federal law makes it illegal to deny someone a rental by race, family status, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex. New York State adds creed, age, sexual orientation, and military status to the list.
While New York City also protects those from being discriminated against by citizenship status, gender identity, lawful occupation, and legitimate sources of income (e.g., public assistance, social security, supplemental security income, and unemployment benefits); A landlord cannot deny someone the rental opportunity based on those mentioned above. You also cannot make the rental terms or conditions different.
Regarding your advertising, you need to ensure it is not discriminatory. Of course, any harassing, threatening, or intimidating behavior that prevents someone from renting is strictly prohibited.
If the authorities find you have committed discrimination, the law requires you to take specific remedial action. Includes changing your practices and paying monetary damages; (which may consist of attorney fees) and civil fines and penalties.
You can legally reject rental applicants for certain things. These include bad credit, references, and poor rental history (e.g., late rent payments).
Dealing with ProblemsDealing with Problems
If you have a tenant not following the terms of their lease, including the non-payment of rent, there are specific actions you can take but are forbidden from doing certain things. First, you must give the tenant three days to pay back rent or move. Should they not do either, the landlord can start eviction proceedings. Laws regulate how and when you may terminate a tenancy. An arduous process, however. While this is ongoing, you cannot try to force them to leave, shutting off the electricity or changing the locks.
You should make sure to explain the terms of the rental lease agreement. Including the amount of the monthly rent, when it is due, how payment is made, how much notice you have to give a tenant before raising the rent, fees for a returned check, and what happens if your tenant does not pay rent on time (e.g., late fees and eviction). As a landlord, you must comply with federal, state, and city laws. For instance, you must give your tenant at least one month’s notice before terminating the tenancy.
A landlord cannot raise the rent in a discriminatory manner (e.g., only for individual races or religions). It is also important to note that you cannot increase the rent to retaliate against your tenant for legal action, such as complaining to the authorities about the lack of heat.
Returning Security DepositsReturning Security Deposits
Security deposit refunds are a significant area of contention. Before moving in, a tenant hands over the security deposit to provide you; with protection should they leave your property in disarray or skip paying rent. In addition, the security deposit covers damage beyond normal wear and tear.
Landlords must disclose the name and address of the bank where the deposit is held. In buildings with at least six units, the landlord must pay interest (either annually through subtraction of rent payment or at the end of the tenancy). However, you also have the right to charge a yearly 1% administrative fee.
There is no legal statute limiting the amount of the security deposit. Traditionally, a tenant pays the first and last month before moving in. Then, it must get returned under the law after a “reasonable” period after the tenant has returned the keys and left. Open to interpretation, but it has typically meant 21 to 45 days.
You can avoid problems by photographing the apartment before the tenant moves in. Before moving out, you may wish to provide the tenant with a list of your expectations. If you feel an issue when they move out, you should take pictures before starting the repair work.
Make it LivableMake it Livable
Landlords have a legal requirement to make sure the property is habitable. They are referred to as the implied warranty of habitability. Your tenant has the right to a livable, safe, clean apartment. For example, they provide adequate heat and hot water and eliminate bug infestations. There are also requirements regarding lead paint, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, locks, and window bars. Landlords also must protect from “reasonably predictable criminal harm.” For example, if your tenant fell victim to a criminal’s entry into the building because locks are not fixed, you could be liable for damages.
Tenants can take several actions if they are not living up to your part. These include withholding rent payments or deducting this amount for rent if they repair it themselves. You cannot force your tenant to give up this right; even if you put it in the lease, a court will side with your tenant.
Make your DisclosuresMake your Disclosures
There are disclosures a landlord is legally required to fulfill. Aside from those relating to security deposits, there is a federal law about lead-based paint and other hazards. If you perform renovations on a building constructed before 1978, regulations require that you provide tenants with lead hazard information within 60 days of starting the work.
Rent Control/StabilizationRent Control/Stabilization
There are many units covered by rent control or rent stabilization. These have a set of regulations that a landlord must follow. For example, a rent control building limits the rent the owner can charge, with certain restrictions on evictions. Landlords are also limited to the rental amount in a rent stabilization building, with rules governing required services and terminating a tenancy. You can visit the New York City Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s Office of Rent Administration and the New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board for the applicable rules.
Tips for First-time New York City LandlordsTips for First-time New York City Landlords
For almost every New Yorker, renting your first apartment is a rite of passage. Stay long enough in the city, and there may come a time when you switch sides from tenant to landlord. Whether you’re the owner or subletting, here are some tips to get you started as a landlord in NYC.
Know the rulesKnow the rules
The first thing you’ll need to do is get approval from someone. It could be the board or the management company, and you’ll need to know the building’s rules as they can change from one to another.
The Condo board has the right of refusal to rent the unit, meaning if they reject your proposed tenant, they have to match your price. However, this rarely happens; most boards don’t care about the tenant if the requirements are met.
On the other hand, co-ops are far more active in vetting prospective tenants and have the right to accept or refuse without any explanation. They also tend to limit the length of the sublease and the number of times you can sublet. Co-ops also typically charge the owner a sublet fee, a percentage of the gross monthly rental or profit.
Screen your tenantsScreen your tenants
Once you’ve attained permission as a rental housing provider and decided on a price, next comes finding the right tenants. The success of your market venture depends significantly on the tenants you choose; the best way to find good tenants is by using good screening practices.
Carefully look through every tenant application, close attention to the credit report, criminal history, and eviction reports. You can run a credit check through a screening service like Experian; the tenant pays the $20 fee.
It’s also good to ask for past landlord references, job references, and anything else to prove the tenant’s quality and ability to meet the monthly payments.
Hold up your end of the deal.Hold up your end of the deal.
One of the first-time landlords‘ most significant mistakes is not understanding their full responsibilities. It should be made clear in the lease, stating which repairs you, as the owner, are responsible for physically and financially.
If you’re a co-op or condo owner, you are responsible for ensuring all systems and amenities function, such as gas, electricity, smoke detectors, etc. Read up on the New York State attorney general tenants’ rights guide to better understand your responsibilities as a landlord.
Have a reserve fundHave a reserve fund
Your motto should always be “Hope for the best but plan for the worst.” Make sure you have a reserve fund for both planned and unplanned maintenance. Even if your tenant caused the damage, you might still have to pay out-of-pocket expenses.
Set up a secure rent collections methodSet up a secure rent collections method
Lastly, ensure a smooth rent collection method for you and your tenant. These days it’s effortless to collect rent through online services such as PayPal, SquareCash, or just an excellent old bank transfer.