United Tenants of Albany, Inc

A Better Place To Live

For Tenants

United Tenants of Albany Informational Handouts

  • Renting on a Month-to-Month Basis
  • Looking for a Place to Live
  • Senior Citizen Lease Terminations
  • Eviction

Additional helpful information is available on the website of the New York State Attorney General in the Tenant’s Rights Guide.

MONTH TO MONTH TENANTS

Tenants who do not have leases and who pay rent on a monthly basis are called month-to-month tenants. In localities without rent regulations, tenants who stay past the end of a lease are treated as month-to-month tenants if the landlord accepts their rent.

A month-to-month tenancy may be terminated by either party by giving at least one month notice before the expiration of the term. For example, suppose your rent is due on the first of each month. Your landlord must tell you by September 30th before your October rent is due that he wants you to move out by November 1st. The termination notice need not specify why the landlord seeks possession of the apartment.

A landlord cannot unilaterally raise the rent of a month-to-month tenant without the consent of the tenant. However, if the tenant does not consent, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving appropriate notice.

A termination notice does not automatically allow the landlord to evict the tenant. The landlord must first bring an eviction proceeding in court and win the case.

(Real Property Law S232-a, S232-b, S232-c)

GUIDE TO LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO LIVE

  • Allow yourself at least 2 months to find an apartment; it’s not as easy as you may think. It will take much more time in most cases. If you are already renting, all that is required by law is one month’s notice to your landlord if you don’t have a lease. Put the notice in writing and keep a copy for yourself.
  • Amount of rent to be charged. Stay within your means, so that you will not be put into an eviction situation for nonpayment of rent. It is possible in these cases to be evicted within 7 days of court. It is against the law for the landlord not to give you a receipt. Even if you pay by check, request a receipt. If taken to court and you have not received your canceled check back, you need proof.
  • Who pays for the utilities? If you are to be responsible, the landlord by law is responsible for supplying you with information as to what the utilities have been for the past two years. This request must be in writing – keep a copy. If you are responsible find out: 1) size of the apartment; 2) type of heat (gas, electric or oil); 3) who controls the heat; 4) access to meters/fuse box (get a key to that area). By law tenants must have access to the meters in case of an emergency.
  • When you go to look at the apartment, check for broken windows, whether there are storms or screens (not mandatory by law), number of outlets, ceiling stains for leaks, working faucets, sinks in both bathroom and kitchen, peeling paint, deadbolt locks, solid doors (front and rear exits), window locks, sufficient working heating equipment. If stoves and refrigerators are included, be sure that all parts are included. Make a list of all problems in the apartment and request in writing that they are corrected. Date and sign your request with tenant/landlord and or witness(es).
  • Deposits to hold an apartment. When putting a deposit on an apartment, make sure to get a receipt. Find out if it is refundable before paying; if so, make sure it is noted on the receipt.
  • Security deposits are for damages which a tenant causes outside normal wear ant tear. It can only be used for the last month’s rent with the permission of the landlord. In a building with 6 or more apartments, the security must be put in an interest bearing account and the tenant must be notified which bank the security deposit is being held. In apartment buildings with less than 6 apartments, if the deposit is put into an interest bearing account, the tenant is entitled to the interest. Also, the money cannot be deposited into a landlord’s personal accounts(s). Take pictures of damages moving in; date them.
  • A lease, once signed by both parties, is binding. A landlord can put anything in a lease that s/he wants to, but NYS law overrides anything in a lease that is illegal. It should have the move-in date any the moving out date. Who is responsible for the utilities and monies which are paid? Unless there is an automatic renewal clause, it is not necessary to give notice that you are moving. In a building with 4 or more apartments, the tenant has the right to sublet, but must follow proper procedure in doing so. Check with a tenants’ organization for the proper procedure for subleasing.

SENIOR CITIZEN LEASE TERMINATION

Tenants or their spouses living with them, who are sixty-two years or older, or who will attain such age during the term of their leases, are entitled to terminate their leases if they relocate to an adult care facility, a residential health care facility, subsidized low-income housing, or other senior citizen housing.

When such tenants give notice of their opportunity to move into one of the above facilities, the landlord must release the tenant from liability to pay rent for the balance of the lease and adjust any payments made in advance.

Senior citizens who wish to avail themselves of this option must do so by written notice to the landlord. The termination date must be effective no earlier than 30 days after the date on which the next rental payment (after the notice is delivered) is due. The notice is deemed delivered five days after mailing. The written notice must include documentation of admission or pending admission to one of the above mentioned facilities. For example, a senior citizen mails a notice to the landlord of his or her intention to terminate the lease on April 5th; the notice is received April 10th. Since the next rental payment (after April 10th) is due May 1st, the earliest lease termination date will be effective June 1st.

Anyone who interferes with the tenant’s or her/his personal effects, clothing, furniture or other personal property from the premises to be vacated will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Owners or lessors of a facility of a unit into which a senior citizen is entitled to move after terminating a lease, must advise such tenant, in the admission application form, of the tenant’s rights under the law.

(Real Property Law S227-a)

EVICTIONS

ILLEGAL EVICTIONS

It is against the law for the landlord to evict a tenant without a court order. A landlord cannot change the locks to evict a tenant, if a landlord does this CALL THE POLICE.  Also, you may break into the apartment to recover your possessions IF YOUR ILLEGALLY LOCKED OUT by the landlord before the Sheriff/Marshall/Constable has come to evict you.  If you do this, you should notify the police first and be prepared to show them the proof that this is your current address.