What A Landlord Can And Cannot Do In New York
Landlords are known for ruling over their properties with an iron fist, and that’s no joke. We have all heard about landlords that get a little too excited
about having power. Sometimes, it can turn into a downright horror story worthy of the news. There are a lot of grey areas that make people worry about the true power a landlord can hold. What can a landlord do during an inspection?
Ever wonder what they can do and where the line gets drawn? It’s a common question among renters, and that’s why it’s good to know your rights. To make things easier, we’re going to explain it out as a list.
What Can A Landlord Do?
A landlord has a lot of power when it comes to what they do with their properties. A typical landlord is allowed to do the following:
- Evict people for non-payment, multiple complaints, and breach of contract. They have the right to start the legal eviction process.
- Cite tenants for actions that have harmed the property or fellow neighbors. For example, landlords have the right to write you up for blaring music at 11 PM on a Tuesday. Or, they have the right to cite you for having an animal in a building that disallows them.
- Approve or disapprove of new tenants based on income, past rental behavior, as well as criminal records. Moreover, they can also run a background check on you with your permission. On a similar note, if a landlord notices signs of addiction, they can also bar you from renting from them.
- Landlords can also advise other owners not to rent to you if you were a bad tenant. If this doesn’t give you a reason to be a good renter, we don’t know what does.
- Landlords can sue tenants who cause severe damage to their unit. This is a fairly common occurrence when it comes to smaller units with rowdy neighbors.
- In some cases, a landlord can also refuse to renew your rental contract. This is often the case that happens when a building gets sold or when a building needs a significant overhaul. Tenants will get a warning ahead of time, though.
- Landlords can also break a lease early upon request for a good enough reason. Legally, they have to do this in the case of domestic violence.
Landlords can only screen applicants based on their rental history, credit score, background, and income.
If you have already signed a lease agreement, don’t be fooled into thinking that your landlord can now get away with whatever they want. The most common question is often, “can landlords do random inspections?”. Even though you are renting, you have the right to privacy, so frequently, people wonder if their landlord can enter their home without permission.
In short, the answer is no. Your landlord must inform you beforehand, in writing, if they need to enter the property, except in the case of an emergency. Tenants have the right to privacy, but landlords also reserve the right to enter the rental property under the approved conditions. These are in your leasing agreement.
However, if a landlord tries to come into your home without advanced written notice, say for a “random inspection,” the tenant has every right to refuse entry.
The Right To Quiet Enjoyment
According to the law, all legal tenants possess what is known as the “Right To Quiet Enjoyment.” This, by definition, means “A property owner or tenant’s right to possess and use their property without disturbance, including by a person with the superior title. A disturbance of an owner or tenant’s possession or use may constitute a nuisance.
A deed or lease may include a covenant of quiet enjoyment to insure an owner or tenant against a disturbance.”
This law gives you the right to live in a rental property peacefully and without disturbance. Your landlord violates your request for quiet enjoyment if, for example, your landlord frequently makes unnecessary and unannounced visits to the property or your landlord harasses you on the phone or in person.
What Can’t A Landlord Do?
There are still limitations to a landlord’s power. These issues below are things that cross the line:
- Discrimination is a big deal when it comes to NYC law. Landlords cannot turn away people based on race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or creed. If you believe you are a victim of discrimination, you must talk to a lawyer.
- They cannot force you to leave your home without a written court order. Changing the locks while you’re out, packing up all your stuff, and leaving it outside, and similar methods are illegal. You must follow the eviction process, period. On a similar note, they cannot prevent you from entering the home.
- They also cannot cut off your utilities. Your utility company, which YOU pay, is in charge of that. Your landlord has no say in whether you get cut off or not.
- Oh, and landlords also can’t ignore problems with your building. Landlords are 100 percent responsible for the care and upkeep of your building. This includes pest control (like bed bugs), broken pipes, poor plumbing, and busted heating.
- Landlords cannot retaliate against you for a bad review, complaint, or similar issues. So, they can’t raise your rent based on you giving a bad review.
- A landlord cannot remove your items from your home and enter the house without warning. Most of the time, they’ll give you 24 hours warning before they have you leave.
- Building owners and landlords also can’t lie about the conditions of the home. Think of bed bugs or lead paint.
How To Get Your Landlord Into Trouble
If you feel like your landlord violated your tenant’s rights, there are ways to take legal action against them. You should never feel that, as a tenant, you do not have the right to live peacefully and undisturbed in your rental residence.
Just because the landlord owns or is in charge of the property, it doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they like. And if they do something illegal, you can certainly take action and get your landlord in trouble.
The first thing you should do is review the terms of your lease and make notes of any actions your landlord has taken that you think might be illegal or violate your rights. It’s essential to have as much detail as possible if you intend to sue or take legal action.
Some common reasons people choose to take their landlords to court include refusing to return a security deposit, refusing repair requests, entering the property without proper notice, and violating the Fair Housing Act.
What Should You Do If Your Landlord Oversteps Their Bounds?
If it’s a matter of your landlord locking you out of your house, then your best bet is to call 911 and report an illegal eviction. On a similar note, you should always get a real estate lawyer to look over the situation.
Document things, and make sure to look for a new apartment as soon as you can. You’ll be glad to get out of there.