Whether you’re looking for your first apartment, or you’ve been renting for years, odds are you’re not aware of your rights and responsibilities as a renter. Fortunately, our friends at the The Housing Council of Monroe County have compiled a document that renters can read online, or pick up at their offices at 75 College Ave, Suite 412.
Across Monroe County, roughly one third of all households are rental. When you look at the city proper, 60% of Rochester’s 100,000 households are rentals. For all those renters, the ‘Tenant Rights & Responsibilities‘ guide is a must have resource for making sure that you’re getting the most out of your renting experience. In fact, there is even a hot-line you can call with your renting questions at 585-546-3700.
Here’s a few tips and resources from the guide:
- For month-to-month contracts, under New York State Real Property Law 232-b, proper notice to terminate a lease is a one-month notice, corresponding to the rent due date. No reason for terminating the agreement needs to be given by landlord or tenant.
- All rental agreements, written or verbal, are binding once entered by a tenant and landlord. There is no grace period to withdraw. If you agree to rent an apartment and change your mind, the landlord can hold you liable for their losses, which can include losing your security deposit.
- If severe code violations exist such as serious heating, plumbing or electrical problems, severe fire or health hazards or lack of basic services in the dwelling, a tenant can terminate their rental agreement even if there is a written lease.
- Landlords can rent an apartment without appliances (stove and refrigerator) provided that they make it clear to the tenants applying for the apartment that they will have to furnish their own. If landlords supply appliances, they have a duty to keep them in good working order.
- Most landlord-tenant disputes over deposits arise over the issue of damages versus normal wear and tear. A landlord can deduct from the deposit actual cost of damages including labor costs. If a tenant leaves an apartment unclean the cost of cleaning can be deducted.
- Landlords have a limited right of access to a tenant’s apartment. The only exception to this is an emergency, during which, a landlord may enter randomly without notice. In all other situations a landlord must work out a mutually agreeable time to enter, and provide at least a 24-hour heads up.
- Any self-help eviction by a landlord without a court order is illegal. Changing the locks, removing a tenant’s possessions, shutting off the utilities to force a tenant out etc. are criminal acts under New York State Real Property Law 235.
- A landlord has no legal obligation to supply a tenant with off-street parking, storage space, use of a garage, use of yard and common areas, snow removal, garbage cans or garbage pickup. If you live in a dwelling with two or fewer units a landlord can require you to perform basic outside maintenance such as cutting the grass.
Familiarizing yourself with your rights and responsibilities will make you a better tenant and save you a lot of aggravation and expense as a renter. Since the majority of apartments in the Rochester, NY metro are owned by private individuals, renters should share this guide with their landlords to make sure they’re aware too. Being a landlord is often a part time job for the property owner, and it can be difficult for them to be on top of all the rights and rules.
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