Rights and Obligations of Landlords and Tenants

Rent | Utility Service | Security Deposit | Warrant of Habitability | Entry by Landlord | Discrimination | Lockout, Unlawful Eviction, or Denial of Entry | Eviction | Legal Assistance


Landlords may charge any rent agreed upon by both parties. Landlords may raise rents with appropriate notice as explained in Renting With A Lease and Renting Without A Lease below.

Renting With a Lease
A lease is a contract between the landlord and the tenant that contains the terms and conditions of the rental. It cannot be changed while it is in effect unless both parties agree. Tenants must negotiate the terms of the lease with their landlords, including rent, duration of the rental, and conditions of occupancy. Some leases contain automatic renewal clauses. When they do, landlords must notify the tenant of the clause between 15 and 30 days before the tenant is required to inform the landlord of an intention not to renew the lease.

Renting Without a Lease
They call renters who make monthly payments, but do not have leases, month-to-month tenants. A tenant staying past the end of a lease becomes a month-to-month tenant, if the landlord accepts their rent. Either a landlord or tenant can end a month-to-month tenancy, but they must give at least one month's notice. A landlord's notice must include an entire rental period. There is no statutory limit about how much or how often a landlord can raise rent. A landlord cannot raise the rent of a month-to-month tenant without the tenant's consent. However, if the tenant does not consent, the landlord may end the tenancy by giving notice as explained above.

Utility Service

When a landlord of a multiple dwelling is delinquent in paying utility bills, the utility company must give advance written notice to tenants if it intends to turn off service. Service may not be stopped if tenants pay the landlord's bill directly to the utility. Tenants can deduct these charges from future rent payments. Call the PSC Helpline at 1-800-342-3355 with questions. In emergencies, call the EMERGENCY HOTLINE at 1-800-342-3355.

In Ulster County, landlords are required to provide heat, or the ability to produce heat, to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, without regard to the calendar year or time of day. Situations with no heat or inadequate heat should be immediately reported to the landlord. If the landlord then fails to provide heat, the matter should be reported to the Ulster County Health Department at 340-3010.

Smoke Detectors
The landlord must equip each apartment in a building with three or more apartments with at least one approved smoke detector that can be heard easily in any sleeping area.

Security Deposit

Nearly all rental situations require tenants to give their landlords a security deposit. A landlord must return a security deposit to the tenant, less any lawful deduction, within a reasonable time after the end of a tenancy. A landlord may use the security deposit as reimbursement for the reasonable cost of repairs (beyond normal wear and tear) if the tenant damages the apartment or as reimbursement for any unpaid rent. A security deposit, either wholly or in part, may not be applied toward rent owed before the end of the tenancy.

Warranty of Habitability

By law, apartment tenants are entitled to livable, safe and sanitary conditions. Any condition caused by the tenant would not be a breach of the warranty and must be fixed by the tenant. Landlords cannot enforce lease provisions or other agreements that breach the tenant's warranty of habitability. Unsanitary conditions should be reported to the Ulster County Health Department's Sanitation Office at (845) 340-3010.Questions of building or fire hazards should be reported to your municipal Building Inspector or Fire Department.

Entry by Landlord

Entry into the apartment by the landlord or landlord's agent(s) must be during reasonable daytime hours, unless the tenant requests otherwise. The tenant has a reasonable expectation of privacy which the landlord needs to respect. However, a landlord has the right of immediate access in case of an emergency involving a danger of loss of life, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property.


A landlord may not refuse to rent property to, renew leases of, or otherwise discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, marital or familial status. Complaints of discrimination within Ulster County should be reported to the Ulster County Human Relations Department at 340-3147.

Lockout, Unlawful Eviction, or Denial of Entry

A tenant can sue for triple damages if unlawfully evicted or kept out of an apartment by force. Some courts have even awarded triple damages where there has been an illegal lockout carried out without force.


A tenant who fails to pay rent, poses a threat to property or public safety, or who otherwise violates a rental agreement may be evicted, but only after the landlord has obtained a court order. The process begins with a Petition and Notice of Petition. If the tenant does not answer the petition or does not appear in court on the date specified in the notice, the tenant automatically loses. A tenant who chooses to fight an eviction should seek legal advice. 

Warrant of Eviction

Once a court has ruled against a tenant, the court serves the tenant a warrant giving three days notice to leave. If the tenant does not leave, the sheriff or constable can remove the tenant's belongings and lock the tenant out.

Legal Assistance

Low income tenants might qualify for Legal Services at 1-877-574-8529. The NYS Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service might be helpful to anyone seeking an attorney, such as landlords and those tenants who do not qualify as low income: 1-800-342-3661.