What’s changing for New York Residential Leases?
In 2020, New York State amended their landlord-tenant laws mainly to protect the rights
In July, 2019 New York State passed broad legislation meant to enhance protections to applicants and tenants for residential rental properties. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act introduced significant changes that affect the duties of the landlord for a residential tenancy, which are enumerated in the written lease agreement. We have summarized the changes for lease agreements below.
Prior to this legislation the landlord was only required to issue a receipt of payment if the payment was paid by cash or any other instrument other than personal check.
The 2020 landlord-tenant laws added the following:
Personal Check. The tenant can request in writing that the landlord provide a written receipt for rent paid by a personal check. This request will be in effect for the duration of the tenancy.
Cash Payment Records. Rent paid by cash requires the landlord to maintain a record of cash receipts for the last three years.
Timing of receipt. If a payment is issued personally, the receipt must be provided immediately. If a payment is transmitted indirectly, the landlord has 15 days to issue a written receipt.
Late Payment. If payment is not received within five days from the due date, the landlord is required to send the tenant a notice of non-payment of rent by certified mail. Failure to send such notice can be used as affirmative defense during the eviction process.
Amount. The 2019 lease did not specify the amount of a security deposit. The 2020 landlord-tenant laws state that the security deposit cannot exceed one month’s rent.
Allowable Charges. In 2020, the Landlord is required to return the entire amount of the deposit except for the amounts lawfully retained for reasonable and itemized costs of damage.
Move-In Inspection. Starting in 2020, the landlord has to offer the tenant an opportunity to inspect the property after signing the lease and before move-in. If the tenant requests this inspection, both parties have to execute an agreement stating the condition of the property.
Move-Out Inspection. The landlord is required to offer the tenant a move-out inspection upon tenant’s lease termination notice. The inspection should take place within the last two weeks of the tenancy but no later than one week before a move-out. Landlord has to provide at least 48-hour notice of the date and time of the inspection. After the inspection, the landlord is required to provide a list of repairs and cleaning to be completed before the move-out to avoid deduction from the security deposit. Any uncured damages will be grounds for deduction from the security deposit.
Return of Security Deposit. Beginning in 2020, the landlord must return any remaining funds within 14 days of the tenant vacating the property (instead of 30 days from termination of the lease in 2019). The itemized statement of any funds retained must accompany the security deposit check or the statement to be provided within 14 days of the tenant vacating. If the landlord fails to return the security deposit and the itemized statement within 14 days, the landlord will lose the right to retain any portion of the deposit.
Burden of Proof. If the tenant disputes the amount retained, the landlord has to bear the burden of proof as to the reasonableness of the amount retained.
The “Notice to Quit and Holdover” section of the 2019 lease has been changed in the 2020 lease. Please note, this new section takes the place of the previous 2019 lease sections of “Month-to-month Tenancies” and “Rent Changes” as well.
It is now entitled: Notice of Rent Increase or Non-Renewal of Residential Tenancy
This new section stipulates that whenever a landlord offers to renew with a rent increase equal to or greater than five percent, the landlord shall provide written notice as outlined in the “Required Notice” Section (see below). If the landlord fails to provide written notice, the tenant’s lawful tenancy shall continue under the existing terms of the agreement from the date the landlord gave written notice until the notice period has expired.
Required Notice. According to the new 2020 Lease, the Required Notice section is based on the cumulative amount of time a tenant has occupied the premises or the length of the tenancy in each lease, whichever is longer.
If the tenant has occupied the premises for less than one year, and does not have a lease term of at least one year, landlord shall provide at least thirty days’ notice.
If the tenant has occupied the premises for more than one year but less than two years, or has a lease term of more than one year but less than two years, landlord shall provide a sixty days’ notice.
If the tenant has occupied the premises for more than two years, or has a lease term of at least two years, landlord shall provide ninety days’ notice.
Mitigation of Damages. If the tenant abandons the premises, the landlord should make reasonable efforts to rent the property as soon as possible at the market rate or the current monthly rental rate, whichever is lower. The 2020 change added the provision specifying the lower rent amount for the abandoned period for mitigation of damages.
Grounds forTermination by Tenant
Termination by Tenant: Tenant can terminate the lease agreement if the tenant is 62 years or older or has a disability. The new 2020 landlord-tenant laws protect tenants with disabilities by allowing a disabled tenant to terminate the lease early.
The only change from the 2019 lease is that there is a new clause specifying, per N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 234, that the Landlord may not recover attorney’s fees upon a default judgement.