FYI: Emergency Access Basics
This winter season while your tenants may be out-of-town enjoying warmer climates, you may find yourself needing to gain immediate access to their apartments for emergency repairs. A common dispute between owners and tenants involves the conflict between your right to enter an apartment and your tenant's right to privacy.
Fortunately, rent stabilization and rent control laws give owners a right of entry under certain conditions. New York City's “Owner's Right of Access” law, found in Sec. 27-2008 of the Administrative Code, prohibits tenants from refusing to allow the owner or the owner's agent or employee to enter the tenant's apartment for the purpose of responding to emergencies, making repairs or improvements required by law or code, and inspecting the apartment to determine whether it complies with applicable laws and codes. Failure to allow access for repairs or improvements required by the Housing Code is a ground for eviction.
- No advance notice required. The NYC Owners Right of Access law requires owners to exercise their right of access at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner. However, emergency repair access requires no advance notice to the tenant.
- Qualifying emergency situations. Emergency situations are narrowly defined. “Emergency repairs” involve any repairs that are urgently needed to prevent injury or property damage. They may include such situations as gas leaks, leaking pipes or appliances, leaking roofs, and dangerous ceiling conditions.
Although the law is on your side for entering a tenant's apartment without notice, for emergencies, your lease should include language that spells out your access rights. This ensures that your tenant is aware of these rights and that there is no misunderstanding between you and your tenant regarding access. For an example of appropriate lease language, click here.