BARRISTER'S BRIEFING: An Update on New Residential Lease Requirements for 1-3-Family Homes

Leon Cameron, Esq. | February 2018

Conceptual image of a man signing a mortgage or insurance contract or the deed of sale when buying a new house or selling his existing one with a small wooden model of a house alongside

A new section of the New York State real property law went into effect on Nov. 29, 2017. Real Property Law §235-bb addresses new lease requirements for 1-3 family properties. The language of lease agreements for a 1-3 family property now requires the owner to include in every lease entered into after 11/27/2017 conspicuous notice in bold face type as to whether a certificate of occupancy (if such certificate is required by law) is currently valid for the dwelling unit subject to the lease or rental agreement.

An owner may provide the tenant with a copy of the valid Certificate of Occupancy instead of providing the notice in the lease. Owners that do so “shall be deemed to have complied with the requirements of this subdivision” pursuant to the requirements of the statute. If the lease (or any other document) contains an agreement whereby the tenant waives their right to receive such notice, the waiver is deemed to be void as it is contrary to public policy. Licensees acting as a Landlord Agent or Property Manager for properties with three or less rental units that supply leases to prospective tenants may be held liable by DOS for non-compliance.

Some tenants may assume that when a landlord is offering a place to rent, that those housing accommodations are safe and up to code. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, some landlords are seeking additional profits by allowing more tenants into a house or building than would otherwise be allowed. For example, a landlord may take a two-family house, which was once only home to two families, and instead make illegal conversions inside the two-family house such that five or six families are living there.

These illegal conversions present not only the obvious concerns of the safety of those individuals living there, but they also cause our neighborhoods and schools to become overcrowded because our city planners are assuming that a two-family house only has two families in it, and not five or six. This new law now protects tenants by requiring landlords to disclose whether a certificate of occupancy is on file, if the building is required to have one, for the property being rented and that it is valid. Alternatively, landlords could provide a copy of the certificate of occupancy to the tenants.

Any broker or brokerage that provides blank leases for rental transactions should have those leases reviewed by an attorney for compliance purposes. Furthermore, any simple fill in the blank lease filled out by a licensee should contain an attorney approval clause pursuant to Duncan & Hill Realty v. Dep’t of State, 62 A.D.2d 690.

Editor’s Note: The foregoing is for information purposes only and does not confer an attorney/client relationship. For a legal opinion or advice specific to your situation, please consult with a private attorney at law.

 

Leon Cameron, Esq.
Leon Cameron, Esq., is Director of Legal Services & Professional Standards Administrator for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.