rental buildings nyc

What Does A Landlord Actually Do?

Congratulations! You’ve been approved to rent your dream NYC apartment. It’s got high ceilings, sunny windows, hardwood floors, and a walk in closet. You’re beyond excited to move in. You’ve turned in your security deposit, rent, and all other fees to your new landlord. You’ll be paying this person every month for at least the next year, so you should probably know what your relationship with them entails. Do you know what a landlord actually does? What are their responsibilities to you as their tenant? Here we solve the mystery once and for all!

They keep your building safe.

Landlords are legally obligated to keep your apartment and building safe to live in. They must conduct a gas safety inspection each year if your building has a gas supply. Your landlord must ensure that your appliances, air vents, and pipework are safe to use. They must make sure all your electrical sockets and lights are also safe to use throughout your occupancy. Additionally, they oversee fire safety. Your landlord must provide you proper access to escape routes at all times as well as working fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.


Your landlord is responsible for keeping you and their other tenants safe from crime. Obviously, you should feel extremely safe inside your apartment. The landlord must fit the outside doors and accessible windows with working locks. They are also responsible for changing the locks after a tenant moves out, before the new one moves in. Nobody else should have a key to your apartment. If there are buzz-in systems or intercoms, they must be working and not broken. They must ensure that the common areas like hallways and stairwells, as well as the areas right outside the building, are well lit. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the building free from crime. That means making sure the tenants are not criminals or conducting criminal activity on the premises.

They perform maintenance and repairs.

One of the beauties of renting, as opposed to owning, your apartment is that the landlord is responsible for maintaining your building. You don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket for any repairs or renovations. The landlord must ensure that you apartment is habitable, so they must maintain the heating, plumbing, and electricity. They must also provide you with proper ventilation and lead-free painted walls in your apartment. If they are not providing you with these essential things, you have a right to stop paying rent.


While the landlord is responsible for safety repairs– those repairs that must be done to keep the apartment livable– the landlord is not responsible for just any old chore needing to be done around the house. As a tenant, it is your responsibility to keep your apartment clean, dispose of your trash, safely operate your appliances, and repair any damage caused by yourself, your guests, or your pets.


If you have submitted a request to your landlord for a repair, they must respond within 24 hours. They are then responsible for conducting that repair within a reasonable timeframe. If your landlord does not end up making necessary repairs, you have the right as a tenant to withhold your rent. If you decide to do the repair yourself, you have the right to deduct your costs from your rent. Always make sure you keep written records of these communications, should any issue between you and your landlord arise and you wish to take legal action.

They keep your building clean and quiet.

Landlords must maintain the common areas, keeping them clean and quiet. They must make sure that trash does not accumulate and is taken out regularly. They must ensure that the hallways, stairwells, and other common areas are mopped or vacuumed regularly. If there is a shared outdoor space, they must also maintain that by keeping the grass cut and free from debris. If you have a problem with rodents or bugs, your landlord is responsible for getting rid of this problem either on their own or by hiring an exterminator. The landlord must also address any noise complaints that may arise. If necessary, they should enforce quiet hours in the common areas.


So the mystery is solved. The landlord is your friend, not your foe. They are here to help you and keep your home safe and maintained. Make friends with your landlord and ensure you have a good, communicative relationship!