Tenant Rights

Tenants in New York City have legal rights. Take a look at this list of NYC tenant rights, which answers some of the most frequent questions we receive from tenants.

If you have questions about your rights and how to access them, the Tenant Support Unit (TSU) is here to help.

Contact the Tenant Support Unit for assistance. If you're not ready to get in touch yet, visit our eviction prevention tool (the Tenant Resource Portal) to find resources that may be available to you.

Tenant Rights in NYC

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Illegal Lockouts & Eviction

Regardless of your immigration status, if you have lived in your apartment for more than 30 days or have a lease agreement, it is illegal for your landlord to pressure or force you to leave your home, to shut off your utilities, to try to get you to leave as punishment, or to lock you out of your home.

You have the right to stay in your home unless you receive an Eviction Order signed by a judge and delivered by a Marshal or Sheriff. Learn more about illegal lockouts and your legal rights during the eviction process here.

Discrimination

All New Yorkers are protected against discrimination in housing by city, state, and federal laws. That means you cannot be turned down from renting or charged more in rent based on characteristics that are protected by law. Protected characteristics in NYC include: disability, gender identity, gender, race, religion, source of income (how you intend to pay your rent), age, citizenship status, sexual orientation, and more (learn more and find the full list here).

Additionally, federal nondiscrimination laws require housing providers to grant requests for reasonable accommodations and modifications in housing. You can report discrimination to the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) on their website here. You can also contact them by phone: call 311 and say "human rights" or call NYCCHR directly at 212-416-0197.

Disability Protections

Disability rights are civil rights. If you have a disability in NYC, you are protected against discrimination. If you have experienced discrimination in anything from housing to employment, you can reach out to the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Call 311 and ask for "human rights" or call them directly at 212-416-0197.

Additionally, allowing service and emotional support animals is a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Turning someone down from buying or renting because of their service or emotional support animal is illegal in NYC.

Landlord Harassment

NYC law protects NYC tenants from landlord harassment. Harassment by an owner to force tenants out of their homes, or to surrender their rights, is always illegal. Some examples of landlord harassment include:

  • Repeatedly contacting or visiting your home during non-business hours without permission or warning
  • Repeated buy-out offers
  • Deliberately causing construction-related problems for tenants, including working after hours, blocking entrances, conducting work without a permit, or failing to remove excessive dust or debris
  • Threatening or intimidating you in an effort to encourage or ask you to move out of your home or give up your rights
  • Neglecting necessary repairs or not providing necessary utilities that are necessary for a habitable home, in order to push you out of your unit
  • Providing you with an unjustified eviction notice or locking you out of your home without going through a formal eviction process in court

Learn more about landlord harassment here.

Heat & Hot Water

Building owners are legally required to provide heat and hot water to their tenants. Hot water must be provided 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat must be provided between October 1st and May 31st, i.e. "Heat Season," under the following conditions:

  • Day: Between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00pm, if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Night: Between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am, the inside temperature is required to be at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are not getting adequate heat in your home, follow these steps:

  1. Report the issue to your landlord.
  2. Start a heat log to track the heat in your home. If you are not getting adequate heat, it can help to document the issue, including keeping a heat log. Download this document to begin your heat log.
  3. Submit a 311 complaint. Learn more about submitting a 311 complaint.
  4. If you still need support, contact our Tenant Support Unit: call 311 and ask for the "Tenant Helpline."

Learn more about heat and hot water safety

Pests

All NYC tenants have the legal right to live in a home that's free of pests, vermin, and other hazardous conditions. Reach out to your landlord or building management if you have pests in your unit and make a complaint to 311 if the issue is not resolved. Learn more about pest control here.

Mold

All NYC tenants have the right to live in a home that's free of mold and other hazardous conditions. Reach out to your landlord or building management if you find mold in your unit. If your landlord refuses to help or is unresponsive, make a complaint to 311. You can also reach out to the Tenant Support Unit for support.

Learn more about preventing, identifying, and removing mold here.

Repairs

Your landlord is obligated to keep your home in good, livable condition. This is called the "warranty of habitability." You have the right to request repairs in your home from your landlord. Keep in mind that your landlord isn't necessarily required to pay for the repairs if the repairs are needed because of your actions or the actions of someone in your household. Reach out to your building management if you need something fixed. If your landlord refuses to make repairs or is unresponsive, reach out to the Tenant Support Unit for support.

Peeling Paint & Lead

Lead is a dangerous metal which used to be an ingredient in paint. Apartments built before 1978 are likely to have some lead-based paint. When lead paint peels and cracks, it makes lead paint chips and dust, which can be easily ingested. This can cause serious health issues, especially for children and pregnant people.

Building owners are required to safely fix lead paint hazards if there is a child under 6 living in a unit, or regularly spending 10 or more hours there per week. You can make a complaint about lead paint to 311. If a City inspector finds lead paint in your home, your landlord will be required to fix the problem.

Learn more about how to prevent lead poisoning here.

Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors

Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors help to keep you safe in your home. In general, landlords are required to provide and install at least one approved carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector. As a tenant, it's your responsibility to make sure they work, which includes replacing batteries.

Learn more about Carbon Monoxide & smoke detectors here.

Window Guards

Window guards save lives. In buildings with three or more apartments, landlords are legally required to install window guards in all apartments where children below 11 years old live. You don't have to have children in order to request window guards in your home. If your landlord refuses to install window guards, you can make an official complaint to 311.

Rent Stabilization

Rent stabilization helps combat the City's housing crisis by making sure some units remain affordable. Almost half of all apartments in New York City are rent stabilized, which means that there is a limit on how much rent can be increased each year. If you live in a Rent Stabilized unit, you are entitled to additional protections and rights, so it is important to know your status. Learn more about rent stabilization here.