Rights and Obligations of Landlords and Tenants
Utility Service |
Security Deposit |
Warrant of Habitability
Entry by Landlord |
Landlords may charge any rent agreed upon by both parties. Landlords may raise rents with appropriate notice as explained in
Renting With A Lease and Renting Without A Lease below.
Renting With a Lease
A lease is a contract between the landlord and the tenant that contains
the terms and conditions of the rental. It cannot be changed while it
is in effect unless both parties agree. Tenants must negotiate the terms
of the lease with their landlords, including rent, duration of the rental,
and conditions of occupancy. Some leases contain automatic renewal clauses.
When they do, landlords must notify the tenant of the clause between 15
and 30 days before the tenant is required to inform the landlord of an
intention not to renew the lease.
Renting Without a Lease
They call renters who make monthly payments, but do not have leases,
month-to-month tenants. A tenant staying past the end of a lease becomes
a month-to-month tenant, if the landlord accepts their rent. Either
a landlord or tenant can end a month-to-month tenancy, but they must
give at least one monthís notice. A landlordís notice must include an
entire rental period. There is no statutory limit about how much or
how often a landlord can raise rent. A landlord cannot raise the rent
of a month-to-month tenant without the tenantís consent. However, if
the tenant does not consent, the landlord may end the tenancy by giving
notice as explained above.
When a landlord of a multiple dwelling is delinquent in paying utility
bills, the utility company must give advance written notice to tenants if
it intends to turn off service. Service may not be stopped if tenants pay
the landlordís bill directly to the utility. Tenants can deduct these charges
from future rent payments. Call the PSC Helpline at 1-800-342-3355 with
questions. In emergencies, call the EMERGENCY HOTLINE at 1-800-342-3355.
In Ulster County, landlords are required to provide heat, or the ability
to produce heat, to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, without regard to the calendar
year or time of day. Situations with no heat or inadequate heat should
be immediately reported to the landlord. If the landlord then fails to
provide heat, the matter should be reported to the Ulster County Health
Department at 340-3010.
The landlord must equip each apartment in a building with three or more
apartments with at least one approved smoke detector that can be heard
easily in any sleeping area.
Nearly all rental situations require tenants to give their landlords
a security deposit. A landlord must return a security deposit to the tenant,
less any lawful deduction, within a reasonable time after the end of a
tenancy. A landlord may use the security deposit as reimbursement for
the reasonable cost of repairs (beyond normal wear and tear) if the tenant
damages the apartment or as reimbursement for any unpaid rent. A security
deposit, either wholly or in part, may not be applied toward rent owed
before the end of the tenancy.
Warranty of Habitability
By law, apartment tenants are entitled to livable, safe and sanitary
conditions. Any condition caused by the tenant would not be a breach of
the warranty and must be fixed by the tenant. Landlords cannot enforce
lease provisions or other agreements that breach the tenantís warranty
of habitability. Unsanitary conditions should be reported to the Ulster
County Health Departmentís Sanitation Office at (845) 340-3010.Questions
of building or fire hazards should be reported to your municipal Building
Inspector or Fire Department.
Entry by Landlord
Entry into the apartment by the landlord or landlordís agent(s) must be
during reasonable daytime hours, unless the tenant requests otherwise.
The tenant has a reasonable expectation of privacy which the landlord
needs to respect. However, a landlord has the right of immediate access
in case of an emergency involving a danger of loss of life, serious bodily
harm or substantial damage to property.
A landlord may not refuse to rent property to, renew leases of, or
otherwise discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color,
national origin, sex, disability, age, marital or familial status. Complaints
of discrimination within Ulster County should be reported to the Ulster
County Human Relations Department at 340-3147.
Lockout, Unlawful Eviction, or Denial of Entry
A tenant can sue for triple damages if unlawfully evicted or kept
out of an apartment by force. Some courts have even awarded triple damages
where there has been an illegal lockout carried out without force.
A tenant who fails to pay rent, poses a threat to property or public safety,
or who otherwise violates a rental agreement may be evicted, but only
after the landlord has obtained a court order. The process begins with
a Petition and Notice of Petition. If the tenant does not answer the petition
or does not appear in court on the date specified in the notice, the tenant
automatically loses. A tenant who chooses to fight an eviction should
seek legal advice.
Warrant of Eviction
Once a court has ruled against a tenant, the court serves the tenant
a warrant giving three days notice to leave. If the tenant does not leave,
the sheriff or constable can remove the tenantís belongings and lock the
Low income tenants might qualify for Legal Services at 1-800-617-6210.
The NYS Bar Associationís Lawyer Referral Service might be helpful to
anyone seeking an attorney, such as landlords and those tenants who do
not qualify as low income: 1-800-342-3661.