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Queens Landlord-Tenant Dispute Law Blog

Why might you need to keep your tenant's security deposit?

Many Queens landlords require their tenants to place a security deposit on their apartment before allowing them to move in. Property owners often have their renters pay a security deposit in order to cover their costs if a tenant doesn't comply with their lease. If they don't, then a landlord may not have to return a tenant's security deposit. Let's look at some examples.

Your rental agreement should detail what constitutes a timely rent payment. If your tenant stops paying on time, then they may be in breach of their contract. You, as the landlord, may be able to keep their deposit and apply it to their outstanding rent.

When can you enter your property legally?

You want to check on your property, but you have tenants in place. You don't want to violate the law, but you have a feeling that there are problems in the home that you haven't been told about. Neighbors have complained about noise, parties and damage to the home, so you want to check things out as soon as possible.

As a landlord, you need to be sure of the law. Your tenants do deserve privacy in their unit, but at the same time, you also have a right to enter with reasonable notice.

Where, when should you take action against a nonpaying tenant?

The change in New York state law last year that limited how much landlords could raise the rent in properties that are rent-regulated were welcomed by tenants throughout New York City and around the state. The new law has had some other impacts.

There's already been a significant increase in lawsuits by tenants alleging that landlords overcharged them for rent. One attorney, whose firm has seen a 30% rise in such claims, says the increase is in part because these claims can now go back six years instead of four. This puts many landlords at a disadvantage because they may not still have the records indicating improvements they made to a property five or six years ago or added expenses from that far back that warranted a rent increase.

Keyless entry systems can pose privacy risks for tenants

If you're the landlord of a newer apartment building, your tenants may use any one or more of "smart access systems" to lock and unlock their doors. Personalized key fobs, smartphone apps and biometric identifiers (like facial recognition technology and eye scans) are becoming more common.

While these new technologies increase convenience for tenants and landlords alike, some people have raised concerns over how much personal data these new technologies can give landlords about their tenants. Moreover, how can landlords use (or misuse) that data?

What are landlords' obligations regarding noisy tenants?

One of the biggest annoyances of living in apartments and other multifamily dwellings in New York City (and anywhere) is the noise from neighbors and their visitors. Whether it's the people living above or below or those in the hallways and outdoor common areas, excessive noise can drive residents crazy.

The most common noise complaints are:

  • Loud TVs and music
  • Heavy footsteps, furniture moving and other sounds on the floor in the unit above
  • Parties and other gatherings
  • Children crying or screaming
  • People shouting at one another

What you need to know before taking action to evict a tenant

Many of the landmark rent laws that took effect this summer in New York were aimed at adding protections for renters. They address things like evictions, notices of rent hikes, security deposits, rent caps and application fees.

The changes, which were fought by the real estate industry and trade groups that represent property managers and landlords, are viewed as a power shift from landlords to tenants -- one that can be seen in other states from coast to coast. Those who opposed the new measures argued that, among other things, they would make it more difficult for landlords to evict nonpaying or otherwise problematic tenants.

Attorney-approved tips for novice New York landlords

Investing in rental property is an effective way of building a solid income or padding an existing nest egg. Everyone needs a place to live, after all. However, without proper preparation, novice landlords may begin to experience costly landlord-tenant disputes. Such disputes can quickly deplete your savings and also make you regret your decision to become a landlord in New York.

In some cases, landlord-tenant disputes may occur despite your best efforts. However, armed with a proactive approach, you can head off many disputes before they even occur. The following tips for new landlords can improve the way you manage your rental properties while also helping you avoid potential disputes.

Must New York landlords allow service animals for the disabled?

In a word, yes. Many people living with a disability experience great benefits from the presence of a service or assistance animal. However, some New York landlords do not permit pets inside their rental units.

Considering the massive amount of damage animals can cause to a house or an apartment, no-pet policies are understandable. Still, property owners who try to disallow service or assistance animals may face landlord-tenant disputes. To remain in compliance with the nation's Fair Housing Act (FHA), it is wise to learn how the law works.

What is the legal way for landlords to enter a rental unit?

It is your property. You own it, so you can go inside of a unit whenever you need to, right? Well, sure, it is your property, but your tenants have rights, and one of those is the right to privacy. As a responsible New York landlord, you need to enter your properties occasionally for repairs or maintenance. How can you accomplish this without starting a costly and time-consuming landlord-tenant dispute?

Even though it feels like the law is always on your tenants' side, you have rights, too. You just need to know how to exercise your legal rights without worsening the situation. There are ways to exercise your right to enter the premises reasonably and legally. Below you will find a short outline of when you can enter a rental unit.

  • When an emergency occurs
  • When you need to make repairs or check for damage
  • When you need to investigate possible rental violations
  • When you need to show the unit to potential renters
  • When you need to show the unit to mortgage or insurance companies
  • When a tenant invites you inside

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