8 myths about renting in New York

By Marjorie Rogers


Tenants should know their legal rights and protections. Here are 8 myths about renting in New York that are either partially or entirely untrue.

Myth #1: Can my landlord enter my home whenever they want since they own the property?

Facts: No. Landlords can only enter your home unannounced in an emergency. Maintenance and property tours are allowed, but your landlord must give you advance notice.


Myth #2: Can I sleep in a room with no windows?

Facts: No. Bedrooms in New York must have at least one window measuring no less than 12 square feet. Otherwise, it is not a legal bedroom.


Myth #3: Can I live in somebody's basement?

Facts: It depends. Living in a basement is only legal if the Department of Buildings (DOB) approves of using the space for that reason. If not, you could be subject to a vacate order. Check any basement's certificate of occupancy here.


Myth #4: My landlord raised the rent recently and it seems unreasonably high. Can they raise the rent however much they want?

Facts: No. If you live in a building built before 1971, it may be illegal for your landlord to raise the rent however much they want. To see if you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, call the New York Office of Rent Administration at (833) 499-0343.


Myth #5: If my landlord is disturbing my home life and pressuring me to move, do I have to leave?

Facts: No. Tenant harassment is real, serious and illegal. You may qualify for free legal aid. Email or call (718) 341-2618 for more information.


Myth #6: Can my landlord refuse to make repairs and make me pay for them?

Facts: No. If it's not due to your negligence or outlined as your responsibility in the lease, your landlord is responsible for repairs. Call 311 to report a safety issue.


Myth #7: If I miss a payment and have no lease, my landlord can evict me immediately. I have no legal rights as a tenant.

Facts: No. Even if you have no lease, you still have legal rights as a tenant and landlords must follow all legal eviction proceedings.


Myth #8: Individual roommates cannot be evicted for lease violations. Everyone in the home is equally responsible for these issues.

Facts: It depends. If you and your roommates have separate leases and they are violating their lease or not paying rent, your landlord can evict just them.

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