ACCORDING TO THE NY STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, YOU DO!
TENANT'S RIGHTS GUIDE
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
NY State Attorney General
TENANTS’ PERSONAL PROTECTIONS
Tenants have a legal right to organize. They may form, join, and participate in tenant organizations for the purpose of protecting their rights. Landlords are required to permit tenant organizations to meet, at no cost, in any community or social room in the building, even if the use of the room is normally subject to a fee. Tenant organization meetings are required to be held at reasonable times and in a peaceful manner which does not obstruct access to the premises. Real Property Law § 230.
RETALIATION (page 26)
Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights. For example, landlords may not seek to evict tenants solely because tenants (a) make good faith complaints to a government agency regarding violations of any health or safety laws; (b) take good faith actions to protect their rights under the lease; or (c) participate in tenant organizations. Tenants may collect damages from landlords who violate this law, which applies to all rentals except owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units. Real Property Law § 223-b.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
Tenants have the right to privacy within their apartments. A landlord, however, may enter a tenant’s apartment with reasonable prior notice, and at a reasonable time: (a) to provide necessary or agreed upon repairs or services; (b) in accordance with the lease; or (c) to show the apartment to prospective purchasers or tenants. In an emergency, such as a fire, the landlord may enter the apartment without the tenant’s consent. A landlord may not abuse this limited right of entry or use it to harass a tenant. Additionally, a landlord may not interfere with the installation of cable television facilities. Public Service Law § 228.
HARASSMENT (page 28)
A landlord is prohibited from any action intended to force a tenant out of an apartment or to compel a tenant to give up any rights granted the tenant by law. No landlord, or any party acting on the landlord’s behalf, may interfere with the tenant’s privacy, comfort, or quiet enjoyment of the apartment. Harassment may take the form of physical or verbal abuse, willful denial of services, or multiple instances of frivolous litigation. If a landlord lies or deliberately misrepresents the law to a tenant, this may also constitute harassment.
Rent regulated tenants who feel they have been victimized by harassment should contact DHCR. Landlords found guilty of harassment are subject to fines of up to $5,000 for each violation. Under certain circumstances, harassment of a rent regulated tenant may constitute a class E felony. Penal Law § 241.05.
Further, New York City tenants have additional recourse against harassment. Tenants may bring a claim in housing court and the court may issue restraining orders against owners if violations have been found. NYC Admin Code § 27-2115.