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Landlord-Tenant Disputes Attorneys in Tonawanda, New York

Depending on perspective and experience, some view New York State as landlord-friendly while others believe it is tenant-friendly. The truth, as is usually the case, most likely is somewhere in the middle.

The state is landlord-friendly in the sense that the high rents can be charged in many areas. The state is also tenant-friendly in cities where rent control is in place and in general because of statewide rights bestowed on tenants and regulations placed on landlord behavior.

If you’re involved in a landlord-tenant dispute in or around Tonawanda, New York, or nearby in Amherst or Wheatfield, or anywhere in Erie County or Niagara County, contact the Law Office of Corey J. Rossi. Our attorneys are experienced in every aspect of real estate law, including landlord-tenant relationships, and can help you resolve your dispute in the most efficient and practical way.

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Landlord Rights and Responsibilities Under New York Law

Under New York law, landlords are required to maintain their rental units in safe, livable, and sanitary conditions. As part of this, a landlord can never turn off power, water, or heat to a unit. 

Other rights and obligations of landlords include:

A Written Lease: If a tenant is to occupy a unit, it is good practice to have the terms of such agreement memorialized in a written lease or rental agreement for both landlord and tenant to sign. In some cases, depending on the term, it is a requirement to have a written agreement.

Entry Into Tenant Units: Landlords cannot just knock on a tenant’s door, stroll inside and check things out. The landlord must give notice before entering a unit and must state a reason for doing so. If there is an emergency, such as a water leak or electrical hazard, then the landlord can enter without giving notice.

Security Deposits: A landlord is limited to collecting one month’s rent as a security deposit, and the funds must be deposited in a dedicated account separate from the landlord’s personal funds. A receipt must be given once the funds have been deposited, which names the institution where the funds are being held. When the tenant vacates the unit, the landlord has 14 days to return the security deposit unless a portion or all of it is used for repairs on the unit. In this case, the repair costs must be fully documented and shown to be the result of tenant negligence or actions.

Eviction: A landlord should not incite capricious evictions. Grounds for filing for eviction include: The lease has expired; the tenant has failed to pay the rent, or the tenant has severely violated the lease provisions concerning maintaining the unit in habitable condition and not disturbing other tenants through noise or other actions, or by conducting illegal activities in the unit. 

Eviction is also a legal process in New York. The landlord cannot simply give the tenant written notice. Changing the locks or removing tenant belongings to outside the unit are also illegal. The landlord in all cases must take the tenant to court, win, and receive a court order known as a “Warrant of Eviction.”

Rights and Responsibilities of
Tenants Under New York Law

In addition to the restrictions on landlords discussed above, tenants have rights of their own, along with responsibilities. Responsibilities include paying the rent on time, maintaining the unit in good and habitable condition, and not disturbing neighbors through excessive noise or other actions.

Tenant rights embrace:

Taking in Roommates: A landlord cannot restrict you from taking in roommates up to the occupancy limit stated in the lease.

Having Repairs Made in a Timely Manner: Tenants can and should report the need for repairs to the landlord, who in turn is required to make a timely response. If after repeated attempts, the landlord fails to repair your AC unit, or whatever repair it is that you requested, you can have the repair made yourself and then deduct the amount from your rental payment. This is covered by New York’s “Repair and Deduct Rights” for tenants. Before exercising this right, however, you should make clear to your landlord that it is your intention to fix the matter yourself and deduct the cost from your rent.

Being Protected Against Discrimination: Both the federal Fair Housing Act and New York’s Division of Human Rights protect tenants and prospective tenants from being discriminated against.

Restrictions On Late Fees: Under New York law, if you fail to pay your rent on time, landlords may charge a late fee, but the rate must be specified in the lease. Most landlords might also write in a grace period for late payments of anywhere from three to five days or more if they so choose.

Despite laws and regulations – or because they have been ignored or abused – tenants and landlords can get into spats that threaten the relationship. The best route is to resolve everything through negotiation, but sometimes that is hard to do without outside help. That’s where the skills and knowledge of real estate attorneys familiar with tenant-landlord laws can step in and help move matters forward.

Landlord-Tenant Dispute Attorneys Serving Tonawanda, New York

Before things get out of hand, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, contact the Law Office of Corey J. Rossi, PLLC. Our attorneys will meet with you, discuss your situation, and advise you of the best options going forward. Let’s work together to resolve the dispute or misunderstanding. We proudly serve clients in or around Tonawanda, New York, or nearby in Amherst or Wheatfield, and anywhere in Erie or Niagara counties.