Understanding New York Residential Leases: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants


With its diverse neighborhoods and population, New York has its own regulations for residential leases. These laws are complicated and our guide below illuminates some of the essential elements landlords and tenants must understand to ensure compliance and protect their rights.

Understanding these laws and regulations will help you establish a solid foundation for your landlord-tenant relationship, but will also protect your investment and help you avoid legal pitfalls.

Types of Residential Leases Recognized in New York

In New York, there are several commonly used residential lease categories. Fixed-term leases, also known as leases for a definite term, are the most prevalent. This form designates a specific start and end date, which typically lasts a year or longer. During the term, the rent amount and other conditions, such as pet policies and maintenance responsibilities, etc. are generally fixed and cannot be altered unless both the landlord and tenant agree in writing. Typically, at the conclusion of the term, the tenant has the option to renew or vacate.

Another type of residential tenancy is known as an oral month-to-month tenancy. This arrangement, unlike a fixed-term lease, has no end date and automatically renews on a monthly basis until either the landlord or the tenant gives appropriate notice to terminate the tenancy. Month-to-month leases provide flexibility for both parties, allowing tenants greater freedom to move out with relatively brief notice and allowing landlords to modify rental terms or terminate tenancies with proper notice. It is essential to note, however, that the provisions of the tenancy, including rent increases, may be subject to regulations and restrictions imposed by New York State and local laws. These are complicated and one should always consult with an experienced Landlord-Tenant attorney concerning these issues.

Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords

1. Maintenance and Repair Obligations

Maintenance and repair responsibilities are an integral element of landlord rights and responsibilities. According to legal requirements and standard lease agreements, landlords are typically responsible for maintaining the safety and habitability of the rental property throughout the tenancy. This includes addressing structural issues, maintaining essential utilities, and repairing any natural wear and tear-related damage.

Landlords may also be required to make repairs promptly, mitigating tenant inconvenience and potential danger. In contrast, tenants are expected to promptly disclose any maintenance issues to the landlord and to use the property with reasonable care to avoid causing unnecessary damage or repairs. Tenants and proprietors can enjoy a mutually beneficial and comfortable living environment when there are clear maintenance and repair obligations.

2. Access to the Rental Property

Tenants have the right to privacy and tranquil enjoyment of their rented space, but landlords have the right to enter the property for certain reasons. Typical examples include performing necessary repairs, conducting inspections, or showing the property to prospective tenants or buyers.

However, landlords must adhere to specific legal requirements, such as providing tenants with advance notice before accessing the property, unless it is an emergency. The notice period may vary based on local regulations and the purpose of the visit. Landlords must balance between respecting tenants’ privacy and carrying out their own property maintenance responsibilities. A harmonious landlord-tenant relationship is characterized by effective communication and mutual comprehension regarding access to the rental property.

3. Eviction Procedures and Grounds

Landlords may have the right to evict tenants who fail to comply with the terms of the lease or who violate their legal obligations. However, specific grounds for eviction vary by jurisdiction and may include non-payment of rent, unauthorized subletting, property damage, unlawful activities, creating a nuisance or persistent violations of lease terms.

Typically, landlords initiate evictions by providing written notice to the tenant and giving them a reasonable amount of time to remedy the issue. Landlords must comply with local laws governing eviction procedures to ensure that their actions are lawful. Tenants have the right to contest unlawful evictions and pursue legal recourse if their rights are violated. Understanding eviction procedures and grounds is essential for both landlords and tenants.

Lease Termination, Renewal and Rent Increases

1. Notice Requirements for Lease Termination

The notice requirements for lease termination vary based on the applicable jurisdiction and the provisions of the lease agreement. Before terminating a written lease or a month-to-month tenancy, landlords are typically required to provide written notice within a specified timeframe. It is essential to comply with these requirements, which can range from 30 to 90 days, to avoid an improper termination. Renewing leases typically entails the delivery of a written notice, either from the landlord, indicating the intent to renew or terminate the tenancy at its expiration. To ensure compliance with the specific notice requirements for lease termination and renewal, both parties must thoroughly understand the lease agreement and applicable laws.

2. Renewal Options and Rent Adjustments

Renewal options and rent adjustments are crucial factors to consider when a lease is expiring. A lease agreement may include clauses granting the tenant the option to extend the term of the lease, typically under specific terms and conditions.

Typically, the tenant must provide notice within a specified timeframe, typically a few months before the lease expiration date, to exercise the renewal option. During the renewal procedure, rent adjustments are often negotiable. Depending on market conditions and the provisions of the lease, the landlord may choose to increase the rent based on factors such as inflation, market rates, or the original terms of the lease. On the other hand, the tenant may attempt to negotiate rent reductions or other concessions based on maintenance issues or market trends. There are many laws in New York that can limit a New York Landlord’s ability to raise rent (we can help you understand us). Successful lease renewal negotiations require clear communication and an understanding of both landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities. We can help protect tenants from illegal rent increases, etc.

Understanding New York Residential Lease Laws for Tenants

Tenant Rights and Protections

1. Right to Privacy and Quiet Enjoyment

A fundamental protection for tenants is the right to privacy and quiet enjoyment. Tenants have the right to reside in their property without interference from the landlord, its agents, or other tenants. This right includes the right to privacy, as well as protections against the landlord’s unauthorized entry or intrusion. Landlords are entitled to access repairs or to show an apartment to prospective renters or purchasers but must give reasonable notice to tenants in non-emergency situations. In general, tenants are entitled to a tranquil and quiet enjoyment of the premises, unfettered by excessive noise, harassment, nuisance, or other disruptions.

Landlords are obligated to ensure that tenants live in a safe and peaceful environment. Tenants have legal recourse to seek remedies and enforce their right to privacy and quiet enjoyment.

2. Repairs and Maintenance Requests

In New York, tenants are entitled to a safe, habitable, and healthy place to live under the Warranty of Habitability. Requests for repairs and maintenance are an essential aspect of these protections. Landlords are obligated to make all necessary repairs and resolve maintenance issues. Landlords are required to maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair and ensure that essential systems such as plumbing, heating, electrical, and structural components are in good functioning order. Conditions must be for human habitation.

Tenants have the right to notify their landlord or property manager of repairs needed and request prompt resolution. Depending on local laws and the provisions of the lease, landlords are typically required to respond quickly and complete necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time. If repairs are not made in a timely manner, tenants have many legal options to ensure their rights are protected and that their living conditions remain satisfactory.


By comprehending and adhering to the legal framework governing residential leases, landlords can establish an equitable and harmonious relationship with tenants while safeguarding their property investments. On the other hand, tenants can assert their rights, ensure a secure living environment, and negotiate favorable lease terms.

Both parties need to remain current on any modifications or updates to the New York residential lease laws. Laws and regulations are subject to change, making it imperative to consult reputable legal resources or seek professional counsel when necessary. By maintaining compliance, landlords and tenants can safeguard their rights and responsibilities.

Top Author

Justin Brasch
Justin C. Brasch is the founding partner of the Law Offices of Justin C. Brasch and has practiced Landlord/Tenant and Leasing law for over 20 years. His areas of practice include Business & Commercial Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Landlord-Tenant, Leasing, New York City Building and Fire Code Violations, and Real Estate Law.Mr. Brasch has substantial experience and expertise litigating landlord-tenant and complex commercial and residential real estate disputes. Before establishing his firm in 1996, Justin Brasch was a litigation …

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