It’s fair to say that New York landlords have something of an image problem, and it’s one that was established quite some time ago. We’ve all heard the stories of extortionate rents for terrible homes and apartments in the five boroughs, and many landlords - although not all - like to get away with extracting the most possible money with the least possible effort.
However, if you are thinking that buying a home or apartment and renting it out at high rates is easy, think again. There are lots of laws and regulations in place, and as a New York landlord, you have a lot of responsibilities. Here are a few of the things you need to know if you want to avoid potential legal repercussions.
If you own a particular type of apartment, you may have to stabilize your rental charges. For example, if you own an apartment in a building with six or more units built before January 1, 1974, you should be giving your tenants a rent-stabilized lease. Similarly, if you have bought an apartment in a new building, the developers may have been given a grant to lower construction costs on the premise they rent-stabilize. You will need to register the building with the Division of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) - and don’t be sneaky. As you will see at nyshcr.org, you might end up in a court of law.
You also have to comply with the Housing Maintenance Code - or HMC. The code states that landlords must ensure their tenants do not have broken windows, broken locks, and many other basic maintenance tasks. You are also required to repaint the apartment every three years.
Don’t expect to be a landlord and neglect the property - you are responsible for everything that goes wrong unless you can prove the tenant is to blame. So, keep a close eye out for potential problems and minor faults that could develop into serious issues. For example, if you notice some damp patches in your apartment, home or building, don’t ignore them. According to Schemel-Tarrillion.com, damp can lead to mold spores, and not attending to the issue can lead to a visit from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In some cases, you could face fines of thousands of dollars - it’s far cheaper to fix the problem as soon as possible.
Choose your tenants wisely. If you decide that you don’t like your tenants, or they cause you issues by withholding rent, it’s not a simple case of evicting them. In New York, it is illegal for landlords to throw out their tenants onto the street - a process known as ‘self-help eviction.’ Instead, you will have to go through a legal process, starting with a formal notice and ending up in court. It can take an incredibly long time, so avoid renting to bad tenants, and ensure you have a robust screening process.
Not all New York landlords are bad, of course. Thanks to new regulation, the reputation they have is slowly getting better. If you plan to rent out your apartment or home, make sure that you are following all state and local laws, or your landlord career could be more expensive and complicated than you thought.
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