If you rent an apartment in New York State, you should take comfort in knowing that your state has several laws on the books aimed at ensuring that tenants stay safe and secure when renting an apartment.
Whether you've been in your New York apartment for a while or you're just about to sign a lease, it's helpful to know how state law protects you against crime and other harm, and also what your landlord's obligations are when it comes to keeping you safe.
Important Crime and Safety Protections Under New York State Law
Here are ten key provisions of state law that every New York apartment dweller should be aware of:
- Landlords must install smoke detectors in your apartment. Landlords are required to install battery-operated smoke detectors in their apartments that are:
- located within ten feet of each bedroom or other room used for sleeping, and
- clearly audible in each of these rooms.
- Landlords must install carbon-monoxide detectors. If your apartment building was built or offered for sale in New York State after August 9, 2005, it must contain carbon monoxide detectors clearly audible in each bedroom or other room used for sleeping, in accordance with local building codes. In New York City, landlords of all multiple dwellings and one-and-two-family homes are required to provide and install carbon-monoxide detectors within 15 feet of the main entrance to each bedroom or other room used for sleeping. (N.Y. Exec. Law § 378; NYC Admin. Code 27-§ 981.2 and 27-§ 2046.1.)
- Landlords must engage in basic crime prevention. State law requires landlords to take basic precautions to protect against foreseeable crime. For example, landlords must repair or replace faulty locks and broken windows, as needed.
- Building entrances must be safe and secure. If your apartment building was built or converted to a multiple dwelling after January 1, 1968, it must have automatic self-closing and self-locking doors at all building entrances. These doors must be kept locked at all times, except when a lobby attendant is on duty. Your landlord is also responsible for ensuring that building entrances, as well as stairways and courtyards, have adequate lighting. (N.Y. Multiple Dwelling Law §§ 35, 50-a; N.Y. Multiple Residence Law §§ 107, 109; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2040.)
- Certain buildings must have two-way intercoms. If your apartment building was built or converted to a multiple dwelling after January 1, 1968, and it has eight or more apartments, it must have a two-way intercom system that enables you to communicate with visitors at the building's entrance and buzz them in. (N.Y. Multiple Dwelling Law § 50-a.)
- Certain buildings must have lobby attendants. If you live in a building with eight or more apartments, you're entitled to maintain a lobby attendant service for your safety and security at your own expense, when a landlord-provided attendant isn't on duty. (N.Y. Multiple Dwelling Law § 50-c.)
- Landlords must install elevator safety mirrors. Your apartment building must include a mirror in each self-service elevator so that tenants and visitors can see if anyone is already in the elevator before entering. (N.Y. Multiple Dwelling Law § 51-b; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2042.)
- Landlords must provide apartment door locks and let you install a second lock. In addition to the landlord-supplied lock, you may install your own lock not more than three inches in circumference, provided you give your landlord a duplicate key upon request. Note that your landlord can't require you to pay more rent or a fee for the installation of an additional lock. (N.Y. Multiple Dwelling Law § 51-c.)
- Landlords must provide peepholes. Your landlord must provide a peephole in apartment doors of buildings. In New York City, landlords must also install a chain door guard on the entrance door to each apartment, which allows you to open your door enough to see who's there. (N.Y. Multiple Dwelling Law § 51-c; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2043.)
- Landlords must provide secure mailboxes in most buildings. Federal postal regulations require landlords to provide secure mailboxes for tenants in buildings with at least three apartments. Your landlord must also keep your mailbox and lock in good working order.