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Rent Payment Laws in New York

Late fees for rent in New York can’t be more than $50, and there’s a five-day grace period before they can be charged.

In 2019, the state of New York overhauled its rental laws. The new legislation increased protections for tenants across the state, particularly those living in apartments that weren’t already subject to rent control laws. Landlords are now required to give up to 90 days’ notice before raising the rent more than 5%. Plus, state laws are more clear about grace periods and fees for late rent.

Landlords can’t require tenants to pay rent electronically

It’s illegal for landlords to force their tenants to pay rent via an electronic billing or payment system. It’s also illegal for landlords to charge a fee if a tenant chooses to pay rent using another method, such as cash, check, or money order.1

Receipts are required unless the rent is paid by check

Landlords in New York are required to provide tenants with a written receipt when they pay the rent, unless the tenant is paying with a personal check. The receipt should be issued immediately if a tenant is paying rent directly to the landlord, or within 15 days if a tenant is paying rent to the landlord’s employee or agent. It should contain:

  • The date
  • The amount paid
  • The address of the rental and the time period
  • The signature and title of the person accepting the rent

Even if a tenant pays via check, they can still request (in writing) that the landlord provide receipts for their rent payments. That request remains in effect for the rest of their tenancy, unless they specify otherwise.2

New York regulates grace periods and late fees

New York has a statewide grace period of five days. If a rental payment is more than five days late, a landlord may charge $50 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is less.3 However, landlords can only charge a late fee if it’s also included in the signed lease agreement.

Landlords have to notify the tenant that they haven’t received rent

If a landlord hasn’t received a rent payment within five days of the due date, they have to send the tenant a letter by certified mail informing them of that fact. If the landlord doesn’t send a written notice, then a tenant can use that as an affirmative defense if the landlord tries to evict them based on nonpayment of rent.4

Landlords must give 14 days’ notice before starting to evict

If a tenant doesn’t pay their rent, a landlord must give them a 14-day written notice. It must explain that the tenant has 14 days in which to either a) pay the rent due or b) move out of the rental unit. After those two weeks have passed, the landlord can start eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent.5

Landlords can’t raise rent in retaliation against a tenant

Like many other states, New York protects a tenant’s right to:

  • File a complaint if the landlord has allegedly violated health or safety laws or the warranty of habitability
  • Enforce rights under the lease, the warranty of habitability or any other state or federal law
  • Participate in a tenant’s organization

New York shields tenants from landlord retaliation for a longer period than many other states. If a landlord raises a tenant’s rent—or refuses to renew their lease—within a year of a tenant engaging in one of the above actions, it’s assumed that the landlord acted with the intent to retaliate.6 If the issue goes to court, the landlord has the burden of proving that they didn’t act in retaliation.

Tenants must be notified of rent hikes over five percent

If a landlord intends to renew a tenant’s lease with a rent increase equal to or greater than 5% of the current rent, the landlord must provide written notice. The amount of notice required depends on how long a tenant has occupied the premises:7

  • Less than one year: If a tenant has been in an apartment for less than one year (and has a lease term of less than a year), a landlord must give 30 days’ notice of a rent increase.
  • One to two years: If a tenant has been in the apartment for more than a year but less than two years—or has a lease term of at least one year but less than two years—60 days’ notice is required.
  • More than two years: If a tenant has occupied a unit for more than two years—or has a lease term of at least two years—90 days’ notice is required.

If a landlord fails to provide written notice, the tenant may continue to occupy the apartment under the existing lease from the date the landlord does give notice until the date the notice period expires.

Landlords were already required to give 90 to 120 days’ notice of rent hikes to tenants living in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments. So, this law extends similar benefits to renters living in unregulated apartments throughout New York.

Several New York cities and counties have rent control laws

New York State has a centralized framework for rent regulation, which includes two categories:

  • Rent control, which applies to apartments built before 1947
  • Rent stabilization, which applies to apartments built between 1947 and 1974

Cities can decide to adopt this framework based on certain factors, including vacancy rate. Some cities in Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland counties have rent regulation, for instance.8 New York City has the most robust rent control policies in the state, and rent regulation there is actually managed by a different office than the rest of New York.

[1] New York State Real Property Law §235-g

[2] New York State Real Property Law §235-e

[3] New York State Real Property Law §238-a

[4] New York State Real Property Law §235-e

[5] N.Y. Real Prop. Acts § 711(2))

[6] New York State Real Property Law §223-b

[7] New York State Real Property Law §226-c

[8] “Fact Sheet #1: Rent Stabilized and Rent Control,” New York State Office of Rent Administration (Sept. 2019)

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.