The relationship between landlords and tenants is complex, and there are too many possible scenarios to address in a single lease. Thankfully, New York has laws and ordinances addressing most of these scenarios.
Below are answers to four common landlord-tenant questions. If you have additional questions of your own, contact our firm for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I had a dog when I moved in and there was nothing in the lease banning pets. Now, my landlord wants to change the lease when I renew it. Do I need to get rid of my dog?
A: You can most likely keep your dog without a problem. Generally, apartments that go from pet-friendly to pet-free must make exceptions for current residents who already have a pet. They are grandfathered in, so to speak. If your landlord tells you to get rid of a dog that was already living there without incident simply because the policy changed, you can challenge the decision in court and may have a strong case. You can learn more about pet problems on our Pet Evictions page.
Q: Is it legal for my landlord to evict me by moving my stuff out, changing the locks or turning off heat/water/electricity?
A: No. The only people who can carry out evictions are sheriffs and city marshals, and only if they have a court order. If the eviction was being done properly, you would have received a warrant from the court in advance of your eviction, and you likely would have had at least one opportunity to challenge the eviction in court. If your landlord takes it upon himself or herself to evict you using any of the methods listed above, he or she is breaking the law.
Q: I have a tenant who is rarely ever seen around the property. I suspect that the apartment (which is rent controlled) is not his primary residence. Can I evict him?
A: You may be able to evict him eventually, but you cannot make that decision unilaterally. He may be traveling frequently for work or visiting relatives with health issues. The bottom line is that you need to go through the proper process, which includes giving the tenant a chance to prove that it is his primary residence. You can learn more by visiting our Holdover Proceedings page.
Q: One of my tenants claims that her furniture was ruined by water because I didn’t act quickly enough to fix some leaky windows in her living room. I suspect that her furniture was already ruined. Can I just ignore the claim or do I need a lawyer?
A: Ignoring a tenant’s claim is never a wise idea. And a claim like the tenant is making warrants further investigation and a response. If the cost of repairing or replacing the furniture is minor (and/or easily covered by your insurance), it may not be worth the time and money to dispute the tenant’s allegations. However, if the monetary value is significant or the tenant takes legal action, you should consult with an attorney. We discuss this and similar issues on the page When Should Landlords Hire An Attorney?