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Landlord retaliation prohibited when NYC tenants exercise rights

Ideally, New York City landlords and tenants will have an amicable and peaceable relationships. One party will provide safe and secure housing and the other party will pay his or her rent on time and comply with the obligations of the lease. Unfortunately, however, sometimes landlord-tenant disputes arise that compromise this sort of relationship.

Nonetheless, despite the parties' potential disagreement, both sides must continue to comply with New York's real property laws. In particular, landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants after tenants have exercised certain legal rights. Tenants have the right to become involved in a tenant's organization, to file official complaints with relevant government authorities regarding such matters as health or safety violations or rent gouging complaints, and exercise other legal rights.

If a tenant takes one of the aforementioned legally-permitted measures, a landlord may not then substantially alter the terms of the lease, such as by either refusing to renew a lease to a tenant for at least a year or terminating the tenant's lease. To do so is considered retaliation by a landlord if such action is taken within six months of a tenant exercising one of the aforementioned rights.

Furthermore, tenants who file bona fide complaints with a building code officer regarding the habitability of a building, such as may arise due to a violation of a safety or health law, may not have a charge or fee imposed upon them by the landlord due to such complaint. A landlord who tries to impose such a charge or fee may be responsible for paying the tenant triple the amount of the fee him or herself.

A tenant who believes a landlord has retaliated following exercise of his or her legal rights may want to consult with an attorney regarding available legal options. Taking such action may ensure fairness in future dealings and compensation for damages suffered.

Source: FindLaw, "New York Real Property Law Sec. 223-b," accessed Oct. 7, 2016

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