The idea of getting into the real estate industry by being a landlord is very appealing to many people. When you have tenants, you are bringing in income every month whether you work or not. But that idea can be misleading. Being a landlord is hard work, and you should have an experienced attorney on your side to make sure that you are doing everything you legally need to do to protect yourself.

Have A Written Lease

There are many reasons why landlords choose to use verbal leases instead of leases done in writing. Some landlords believe that verbal contracts establish a level of trust between landlord and tenant that makes the relationship more reliable. While New York State does recognized verbal leases of up to one year as being binding contracts, it is still much easier to defend your position as a landlord if you have a written lease.

A written lease is mandatory if there are several conditions that go along with being a tenant. For example, if you have assigned parking for your tenants, then that arrangement needs to be spelled out in writing. In every way, a written lease is a better option for you as a landlord than a verbal lease agreement.

Know The Laws About Rent

When it comes to due dates for rent, the most common date used is the first of every month. But if you an experienced landlord, then you know that rent does not automatically work that way. New York State law says that rent can only legally be collected in arrears, and not in advance. That means that you must collect rent at the end of the month and not the beginning.

However, landlords can collect at different points in the month if they put it in a lease that the tenants agree to. This is another strong argument for written leases and it shows how leases protect landlords. Without a written lease that specifies that rent is to be paid on the first of each month, the tenant could legally make the landlord wait until the final day of the month to collect.

Another legal aspect of rent revolves around how rent should be represented in the lease. A lease should be for a limited time (set up in years) and that time period should be outlined in writing. The rent should be the culmination of rent for the entire period, and not outlined on a monthly basis. This is why landlords renew leases every year, and another reason why leases need to be in writing.


Before you become a landlord in the state of New York, you should know that you do not always have a say in whether or not your tenants can sublet their space to someone else. If you own a building or complex that has four units or more, then a court may side with your tenant when it comes to subletting, even if you say no subletting in the lease.

Being a landlord can be a difficult job, but you can make it easier by having a good lawyer on your side. Before you start investing in rental properties you intend to lease out to tenants, you should spend a lot of time consulting with your attorney to make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into.

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