Before the lease is signed, landlords are required to provide certain information to potential new tenants about the unit they’re planning to rent. These are informally called “mandatory disclosures,” and they vary depending on the state. In New York, disclosures to tenants are far less complicated than disclosures to potential buyers. However, landlords who fail to comply still risk legal action by tenants.
All U.S. landlords must abide by the federal lead disclosure rule
Any landlord in the U.S. renting out units constructed before 1978 must alert potential tenants to the presence of any lead paint in the building, as well as any reports on past lead paint hazards that have already been dealt with. They must also provide new tenants with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the hazards of lead-based paint. This must happen before the lease is signed.1 This federal lead disclosure rule is the only nationwide mandatory rental disclosure.
Certain New York landlords must provide a certificate of occupancy
If the property in question has three or fewer rental units in total, the landlord needs to inform the potential tenant that the unit has a certificate of residential occupancy.2 The landlord can do this either by giving the potential a piece of paper stating, in conspicuous, bold print, that the unit has a certificate of occupancy, or simply by giving the tenant a copy of the certificate. This law was passed to crack down on illegal “attic apartments” that proliferate throughout New York State.
While New York courts have yet to weigh in on the penalties for landlords who fail to provide this information when the unit is legal, if a landlord fails to do this because the unit is illegal and does not have a certificate of occupancy, any lease entered into is entirely void.3
New York leases must provide information on sprinkler systems
All New York leases must state whether or not a rental unit has a working sprinkler system. If it does, the lease must state when that system was last inspected and serviced.4 There is no law that rental units actually have a sprinkler system, but if a unit does, the landlord needs to tell the tenant, and say when it was last inspected.
Landlords don’t have to provide a list of problems with the unit
New York landlords are not required to provide tenants with a list of problems with rental units before they sign the lease. But state law does require landlords to cooperate with tenants to perform an inspection of the rental unit after the lease is signed, with the goal of the parties signing a written statement which lists all the defects and damages to the rental unit.5 The tenant must specifically request this inspection—the landlord isn’t required to offer it otherwise. The purpose of this law is to ensure that the landlord does not later try to charge the tenant for problems with a rental unit that existed before the tenant moved in.
Note that landlords must still abide by the warranty of habitability for all New York rentals, which requires that apartments be kept in a livable and safe condition. This section only applies to small problems that aren’t a violation of the warranty, like cracked paint or stains in the carpet.
New York City requires an additional bedbug disclosure
Tenants in New York City have an additional disclosure right: before they lease an apartment, the landlord must provide them with a one-year history of any bedbug infestations on the property.6 The landlord must continue to provide a new one-year bedbug history each time the lease is renewed, either by giving it to the tenant directly or posting it in a prominent place in the building.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.