Renting an apartment can be an intimidating process; however, knowing your rights will help to ensure an exciting and enjoyable stay. Here’s what you need to know before you receive the keys.

Livable Premises

All tenants have the right to livable and clean premises provided by the landlord. Livable and clean premises is defined as habitable, fit for uses by all parties and free from anything dangerous. Once the tenant occupies the unit, these rights transfer over with no fault to the landlord if an issue arises. Tenants also have the right to protection against lead paint, timely repairs and maintenance, access to hot water, high-quality smoke detectors, locks on doors, and bed bug and rodent prevention. Tenants also have the right to quiet enjoyment.


The landlord, by law, is required to provide a protected living environment. The buildings’ main entrance doors must be locked at all times with a two-way locking system and intercom. Buildings that house eight or more units must have a lobby service. Elevators are also required to have mirrors. Within each unit, approved smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be within 10-feet of sleeping rooms. Tenants also have rights to personal door locks, peepholes, and mailboxes.


For maintenance issues and repairs, the landlord has the right to enter each unit given that it’s a reasonable time and way. If the landlord fails to follow this, the penalty is a criminal violation. If the tenant pays utility and oil companies directly, that amount can be deducted from rent. Otherwise, the landlord uses a portion of rent to pay for utilities. If the landlord fails to pay, he is liable for compensation and punitive damages. Regarding heating and hot water usage, the tenant must have access to hot water 24 hours a day, all year round. Heating equipment will be supplied from October through the end of May with an indoor temperature of 68 degrees when outdoor temperatures are below 55.


When subletting, a written request that includes the length of a sublease, name, business, and address of subtenant, reason for subletting, and tenant’s address during this period along with written consent of co-tenants must be sent to the landlord. The landlord then has the right to ask for more information but must provide a tenant with a decision within 30 days. If landlord unreasonably refuses, a tenant can either terminate the lease or still sublet.

The relationship between Tenant and Landlord

It is important for the tenant and landlord to have a trusting relationship. This will ensure a positive living experience with open communication which leads to having rent, bills, and maintenance problems paid and dealt with professionally. If your landlord refuses a prompt response, according to New York City Rent Guidelines Board, there are specific steps one can take. At the end of the day, it’s important to acknowledge that this relationship should be mutually beneficial.

Renter’s Misconceptions

As a renter, it’s important not to overlook common misconceptions about security deposits, brokerage fees, and time span allotted for rent payment and maintenance response; most of which will be clearly stated in your rental lease agreement.

For more rules and guidance on your rights as a renter, visit the Metropolitan Council on Housing.


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