Your right to make a complaint to your landlord or housing authority

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, except those living in owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units, are protected from this kind of retaliation by law. It is presumed that a landlord is retaliating if:

  • Within one year of 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 isn’t retaliatory. The eviction proceeding will be terminated if your landlord fails to prove that the eviction was not retaliatory.
  • Within one year of a tenant’s complaint, the landlord substantially alters the terms of the tenant’s 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.

If you feel your rights have been violated, or have questions, you can search for a legal aid organization in your area here.