At lease signing, a rider was included that simply stated I will pay my rent online, but did NOT disclose any fees or make any mention of fees. Upon inspection of the payment website, a $3 convenience fee is added to the rent every month. The lease itself also states that rent is to be paid at the office of landlord, so I mailed in a check the next time rent was due. The managing agent wrote me an email saying that I signed a rider that I would pay it online. I was able to find a statute in NY that states electronic form of payment cannot be the only method in which to pay rent. I already pay so much in rent that I don't want to pay the fee, and most buildings absorb the fee in order to encourage online payments. Must I make the payments online?
Dear Manhattan Tenant:
You are correct. A Statewide law renders the lease clause and rider void. You may pay by other means.
"1. A landlord shall not require a lessee or tenant to use an electronic billing and/or payment system as the only method for the payment of rent. A landlord shall not assess any fee or other charge for a lessee or tenant that chooses not to use an electronic billing and/or payment system.
2. Any agreement by a lessee or tenant of a dwelling waiving or modifying his or her rights as set forth in this section shall be void as contrary to public policy."
I have forty years experience in the specialty of Housing Law and Tenant's Rights advocacy. The answer I provided to you does not create an attorney and client relation. You are free to check my office contact information at my AVVO profile. The answer offered is in the nature of general information, and should not be considered as tailored legal advice. I offer answers as a service to the community with my firm belief that you should try gain a good outcome for your legal issue and to avoid a bad outcome if you can.
Without reviewing the documents involved, it is not possible to address the specific circumstances of your matter. Generally most riders will contain language that states that the language of the rider controls if there is a conflict between the lease and the rider. If an apartment is not rent-regulated, the terms of the lease generally control the rights and responsibilities of the parties. Here's a question for you, is it worth the time, effort and possible expense to fight over what amounts to a $36 per year charge?
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