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In New York State can a landlord require additional rent for adding a roommate to your apartment during your current lease term?

Potsdam, NY |

Its an upstate NY apartment so the stabilization/control attributes of NYC do not apply. I know that under the so called "roommate law" that I'm allowed to have an occupant living with me, but landlord says that the only way he will "allow" it is if said person fills out their own rental application, gets screened, and is added to the lease with a raise in rent. He claims its due to additional usage of facilities and wear and tear. However it doesn't make sense to me because I pay for all of my own utilities (heat, electric and hot water) in addition to my rent. So basically what I'm asking is if that law prevents a landlord from raising rent while in a lease term or does it only allow a roommate but give the landlord leeway to increase rent due to the added person?

Attorney Answers 2


Dear can landlord screen roommate and charge?

The answer is No. Any provision in a lease that tries to impair the tenant's legal right to a roommate is void as a matter of law and cannot be enforced. Your lease, your monthly rent, your liability to the landlord all presume that you have that roommate (as well as roommate's dependent children) already living with you, and no argument about wear and tear and excess usage, can trump the right at the time you and the landlord agreed on a rent to make that rent conditional (meaning this rent applies only to you.)

A court will not enforce the illegal part of the lease and a court can enjoin the landlord from infringing on your roommate right.

Excerpt from the statute (New York Real Property Law Section 235 -f)

"*** It shall be unlawful for a landlord to restrict occupancy of
residential premises, by express lease terms or otherwise, to a tenant
or tenants or to such tenants and immediate family. Any such restriction
in a lease or rental agreement entered into or renewed before or after
the effective date of this section shall be unenforceable as against
public policy.
3. Any lease or rental agreement for residential premises entered into
by one tenant shall be construed to permit occupancy by the tenant,
immediate family of the tenant, one additional occupant, and dependent
children of the occupant provided that the tenant or the tenant's spouse
occupies the premises as his primary residence.***
7. Any provision of a lease or rental agreement purporting to waive a
provision of this section is null and void.***
9. Any person aggrieved by a violation of this section may maintain an
action in any court of competent jurisdiction for:
(a) an injunction to enjoin and restrain such unlawful practice;
(b) actual damages sustained as a result of such unlawful practice;
(c) court costs.***"

I know you have asked this question in various ways, and I have always suggested to you to get a local attorney on board with you. Your own personal lawyer can stand up to your landlord, can take him to court if necessary, and can certainly let him know that he or she is nearby and on guard for you. Take my advice. Hire an attorney. An attorney in Manhattan (travel to Potsdam (371 miles, 6 hours, 50 minutes) with no rail service available nearby, is far too far away to be useful to you.

Good luck

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

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Yes, you are right. I really do need to find a good attorney that serves the upstate NY area and is well versed in rental dispute issues. Perhaps you might know someone upstate that you can refer me to? I'm in nyc currently visiting and would be interested to meet with you tomorrow if your office is open. I tried to call today but it was past business hours.


the short answer is NO

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