Landlords can be tough in NYC and it’s not unknown for them to try and evict you for their own personal gain. Sometimes it can feel like the landlord is holding all the cards. Fortunately, that’s not the case thanks to a series of tenant laws in place to protect renters. But don’t expect your landlord to tell you about these. It’s in their interests to keep you ignorant so you’ll need to become aware of them yourself. Some of these are well known such as the right to livable housing. But the quirkier ones can be easily overlooked. Here are some of the stranger tenant laws on the books in NYC
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There’s a way around the no pet’s clause in a lease
The no pet’s clause in a lease is a frequent bone of contention between tenants and landlords across the city. If your lease has one such clause then it’s helpful to know that, given the right circumstances, you can get around it quite easily. NYC admin code 27-2009.1(b) states that “In multiple dwellings in New York City and Westchester County, a no-pet lease clause is deemed waived where a tenant ‘openly and notoriously’ kept a pet for at least three months and the owner of the building or the owner’s agent had knowledge of this fact.”
The beauty of this is that even the most casual observations by the landlord’s workers of the pets accouterments can be used to argue that the landlord had knowledge of the pet. So if you see a maintenance worker walk by with a leash then you may just have to wait three months and you can get a dog.
You can take on a roommate without the landlord’s permission
Another interesting law relates to the question of roommates. Even if your landlord won’t allow you to have any there’s little they can do to stop you. Real estate Property Law 235(f), often referred to as the Roommate Law, holds that any residential lease entered into by a tenant allows them to share the apartment with their immediate family or one unrelated person. This is true even if the residential lease says otherwise.
It is very difficult to evict someone for repeated late payment
Technically speaking, repeatedly paying your rent more than a month late is grounds for being evicted. But in practice, it’s very hard to do so. In the court’s eyes, being repeatedly late on your payments only shows that there is no clear set of standards. So if you’re occasionally late on your payments then don’t let it worry you too much. This is not recommended as a personal policy but legally speaking you’re probably fine.
Elevators must have mirrors
Multiple Dwelling Law 51-b; NYC admin. Code 27-2042 holds that every self-service elevator in a multiple dwelling building must have mirrors. This is to allow anyone about to enter the elevator to check if anyone is already inside. There might not be much use to this but you’re welcome to try.
You are entitled to a fresh coat of paint every three years
Every NYC apartment (whether rent regulated or not) must be maintained according to the Housing Maintenance Code (HMC). This requires your landlord to ensure the lock on your front door works, that your windows aren’t broken, and a whole lot else. One section of the HMC even requires landlords to repaint your apartment once every three years. Landlords are responsible for fixing all wear and tear so if your apartment could use some sprucing up ask them to foot the bill for a paint job.