The following outlines frequently asked questions related to renter/tenant, homeowner, and landlord rights, responsibilities, and resources. If you have a question that’s not covered below, please contact the Housing Hotline at (585) 546-3700 Monday through Friday from 1–4PM.
Housing Counseling Resources
Not from the Greater Rochester New York area?
Find a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency in your area here.
When is the heating season in Monroe County and the City of Rochester? What temperature does the unit need to be?
The heating season is September 15–May 31, and your unit needs to reach 68 degrees in all habitable rooms. If your temperature is not 68 degrees during the time period, contact your local Neighborhood Service Center (NSC) by calling 311. Outside of the City of Rochester, contact the local code enforcement.
What is proper notice to provide a month to month tenant to vacate?
The landlord needs to provide a tenant with a full calendar months’ notice to vacate to terminate the tenancy. Either party can terminate the notice without reason, even if the rent is current.
Example 1: Landlord gives notice on September 30 to move out. Tenant must be out by October 31.
Example 2: Landlord gives notice on October 1 to move out. Tenant must be out by November 30.
Example 3: Landlord gives notice on January 31 to move out. Tenant must be out by February 28.
What are the maintenance requirements of a rental property?
NYS Warranty of Habitability Law requires landlords to make all repairs necessary to keep rental units free of health and safety hazards.
If you live in an apartment that needs repairs, we suggest taking the following steps:
Always put requests for repairs in writing to the landlord. Sign and date the letter and make a photocopy for your records.
If the landlord does not make the repairs that are requested in what would be considered to be a reasonable amount of time, you have a right to call a building inspector.
For property located in the City of Rochester, call 311. Ask for the phone number for the Neighborhood Service Center (NSC) closest to your rental. For properties outside of the City, call the town code enforcement department. Check the phone book for the phone number.
Can rent be withheld if repairs are not being made in a rental unit?
There is no formal rent withholding law in NYS. Please refer to LAW NY ’s website for further instructions on rent withholding.
What is the timeframe that a security deposit needs to be returned after a tenant moves out?
A landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant at the end of the lease or within a reasonable time, minus any deductions for damages. A reasonable time is considered 3–4 weeks. If you do not receive your security deposit within that timeframe, you can sue him or her in small claims court.
How can a person be evicted in NYS?
There are two types of eviction in NYS: nonpayment and holdover. If a tenant is behind on rent, a nonpayment proceeding would need to be filed. A holdover eviction is when a tenant has been given proper notice to move out and does not leave by the given date. Refer to LAW NY’s website for more information on eviction.
Eviction Caused by Foreclosure
What are the rights as a tenant if the property is being foreclosed? Is rent required to be paid?
There are special protections in NYS in the event the landlord is faced with foreclosure of the rental property in which you live.
Rent is required to be paid to the landlord as long as he/she still owns the property. If the house forecloses, rent will be required to be paid to the new owner.
Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA)
In 2009, Congress passed the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA). This legislation requires that leases remain in place in the event of a foreclosure. The tenant can remain in the living unit at least until the end of the lease, and month-to-month tenants are entitled to 90 days’ notice before having to move out.
PTFA provides an exception for a buyer who intends to live in the property. A buyer who intends to occupy the property may terminate any existing lease with 90 days’ notice. Importantly, this federal law cannot overrule any state legislation that is more generous to tenants. These protections apply to private market rentals, including Section 8 tenants.
Are tenants allowed to have guests in their unit?
Tenants have the right to have guests in their apartment without the landlord’s consent. This includes overnight guests. A guest can stay in an apartment for up to 30 days before a landlord can consider that the person has moved in permanently. After 30 days, a guest is considered an occupant, and the landlord has the right to know the name of that person.
Service Animal Information
I have a service animal. What are my rights as a tenant?
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals differ from service animals. A service animal is trained to perform tasks while an emotional support animal is not trained. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias. A tenant may request a reasonable accommodation if they need an emotional support animal. Housing providers may ask individuals who have disabilities that are not readily apparent or known to the provider to submit reliable documentation of a disability and their disability-related need for an assistance animal. The housing provider cannot ask for detailed documentation about the disability.
I was served a foreclosure summons. Is there still time to prevent losing my home?
NYS is a judicial state and all mortgages in foreclosure have to go through the court process. The foreclosure process in New York currently takes about 445 days (15 months) from the date of the first missed payment to the sale of the home. If you are in foreclosure, there may still be time to avoid losing your home. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to see what your options are.
How do I get started to avoid foreclosure on my home?
If you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments, please call our office to schedule an appointment to meet with a certified Foreclosure Prevention Counselor. Appointments can be done over the phone or in person.
Who is considered a first-time homebuyer?
Anyone who has not owned a property in the last 3 years qualifies for first-time homebuyer services.
How can The Housing Council at PathStone help me buy my first home?
The certified Homeownership Counselors at The Housing Council will help you prepare for homeownership by providing budget counseling and credit repair, explaining up front and ongoing costs of homeownership, as well as helping you navigate the grant and mortgage programs available to first-time buyers. We also provide Homebuyer Education — an A-Z class on everything you need to know about the home purchase process.
Are there income limits?
There are no income limits to receive education and counseling services from The Housing Council. The grant programs offered to homebuyers do have varying income qualifications. To find out what they are, please attend orientation.
I heard there are grants for first-time buyers. How do I know if I qualify for one?
Yes, there are many grant options for qualified first-time buyers. To know which ones may work for you, you will need to sit down with a Homeownership Counselor and review your income, credit, location in which you want to purchase, and household status. We will review the general information at orientation.
How do I get started with the program?
Please attend our next orientation to get started.
I was told I have to take Home Buyer Education. How do I sign up?
We believe everyone considering buying a home should attend Homebuyer Education to learn about the proper way to prepare for homeownership, navigate the process, and ensure success for years to come. Class is so valuable, all grant programs require it. To sign up for the in-person or online course, please call 585-546-3700 ext. 3035 or email us at Homebuyer@pathstone.org.