Tenant harassment

Protections for tenants in the state of New York

Dear New Yorker,

As a tenant, you have the right to live peacefully in your home without being harassed by your landlord.

Tenant harassment can take many forms; from threats, to cutting off essential services like heat or hot water, to causing damage to your home or apartment. Whether your landlord is engaging in harassment to force you out, retaliate against you for making a complaint or asserting your rights, or to punish you for some other reason, there are protections in place to stop it.

This guide contains information about your rights as a tenant, as well as resources to assist you if you are being harassed by your landlord.

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Protections for tenants facing retaliation in the state of New York

It is illegal for landlords in New York to retaliate against tenants who make a good-faith complaint to them or to a government agency. These complaints may include violations of health and safety laws, issues with habitability or non-repair of the premises, or violations of rights under a lease. All tenants* are protected from this kind of retaliation by law. It is presumed that a landlord is retaliating if:

  • Within one year of your making a good-faith complaint, your landlord brings an eviction case against you. If you inform the court that you made such a complaint within one year of the eviction proceeding, the law requires your landlord to show that the eviction is not retaliatory. The eviction proceeding will be terminated if your landlord fails to prove that the eviction was not retaliatory.
  • Within one year of your complaint, your landlord substantially alters the terms of your rental agreement. This includes: refusing to continue to rent to you, failing to renew a lease after your lease has expired, or offering a new lease with an unreasonable rent increase.

* Includes all tenants except those living in owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units.

Landlords found to have illegally retaliated against tenants are subject to fines and fees.

Protections for rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants

Landlords are prohibited from harassing tenants living in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments. Under New York's rent-regulation laws, harassment is defined as conduct by a landlord that directly or indirectly interferes with, or is intended to interfere with, your privacy, comfort, and enjoyment of your dwelling.

  • If you are living in a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartment, you can file a complaint with New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) at 1-866-ASK-DHCR (1-866-275-3427) or by visiting hcr.ny.gov.
  • An apartment is rent controlled if it has been occupied continuously by a tenant since July 1, 1971, and the building was constructed before February 1, 1947
  • In most cases, an apartment is rent stabilized if it is in a building constructed before January 1, 1974, and the building has six or more units.


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