New York Rent Laws in 2020 – What Renters Need to Know?

By: Abdullah Haroon June 30, 2020

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To make living easy and affordable, New York State keeps making time to time changes in rent laws. Many of these changes are welcomed by the tenants and a few are difficult for the landlords but at the end of the day, regardless of which law favors either party, the purpose remains the same – make living less punitive in the state.

Last time when the major alterations were made in rent laws was in June 2019 but at that time, the legislators and advocates didn’t have a clue how 2020 will unfold.

With that being said, let’s jump into last year’s modifications and see if you are familiar with them or not.

Broker Fee

According to last year’s ruling, tenants aren’t bound to pay the broker’s fee unless they hire a broker exclusively. The state issued a clarification in February 2020 regarding this change which clearly states that the government has effectively banned the fees of Real Estate agents.

Broker Fee 2020

The ruling fell like a bomb on the real estate industry and the industry along with local brokers filed a court case in Albany against this change.

To their fortune, the court temporarily suspended the ruling until further order. So for now, you have to pay a broker fee for finding a rental in the city of dreams. However, its alternative is no-fee apartments. You can find such rentals at NY Rent Own Sell.

Security Deposits

Security deposit is an upfront payment a tenant makes to the landlords before moving into the rental. This amount is reduced to one month’s rent by NYC state last year. And the landlord must return the deposit with-in fourteen days of renter leaving the apartment.

Apartment Security Deposit 1

Notice of Rent Increase

According to the new law, the landlord must give prior notice of 30-days if he/she wants to increase rent by more than 5%. And the period of notice increases with the length of the lease. For example, if the tenant is living for more than a year, a prior notice of 60-days will be valid. Similarly, a 90-days’ notice would be required if the renter is living for more than two years.

Eviction

Eviction requirements have now become stricter with landlords forcing tenants to move out can face a fine of at least $1,000. Other than that, tenants now have 30 days instead of 10 days to fix lease defilement.

Eviction Notice 2020

Application Fees and Background Checks

Landlords or agents cannot charge more than $20 on account of application fees. The change further states that landlords cannot charge tenants for background checks and the application of the latter can’t be rejected on past landlord-tenant disputes.

Read Also: Rental Application Process- A Complete Step by Step Guide

Rent Controlled & Rent Stabilized Apartments

Rent Controlled and Rent Stabilized apartments are the primary choices of many New Yorkers and they make up 1 million apartments in the city.

A significant change made in Albany last year was that the regulations dealing with such apartments will expire on June 15, 2019. Until that time, it was considered that these apartments will reverse to the market rate if renters’ income surpasses $200,000 for two successive years and their rent touches $2,774.

But the new law has bashed out all these fears which means that these affordable rentals will remain so, regardless of tenants’ income and the rent.

Formerly, the increase in rent of rent-stabilized apartments was on the mercy of landlords and they had an authority to increase rental by 20%. But under the new rule, they can’t do so.

The new rule also limits the amount landlords can charge on improvements made to the apartments. Now, the owners can only charge $89 instead of the previous practice of $1000.

Previously, landlords had an authority to evict such apartments with a claim of personal use but the new rule states that a tenant living in a rent-stabilized apartment for more than 15 years cannot be evicted unless the family of landlord shifts to the unit.

So far, the tenants of rent-stabilized apartments are paying a discounted amount also called referential rents. These rents were expired on every lease renewal which stretches the rent to the legal market value.

The 2019 ruling now states that referential rents are the base rents of such units and they cannot be raised until the renter moves out.

Final thoughts

A city where more than 60% of the residents are living in rental apartments demands a helping hand from the government. These new changes may have annoyed the landlords but at the same time, tenants had a sigh of relief.

COVID-19 pandemic has added to the mercy of renters in NYC and many of them are finding an escaping route. This much-needed relief given to the tenants was a necessity of time and with rental prices always moving upward, renters will welcome these changes.