New York City and State Housing Standards

The laws governing housing standards in NYC

The Multiple Dwelling Law, the Multiple Residence Law, and the New York City Housing Maintenance Code delineate minimum standards for light and air, fire protection and safety, and sanitation and health in various classes of dwellings, including Class "A" and Class "B" multiple dwellings:

  • A "Class 'A'" multiple dwelling is a multiple dwelling which is generally occupied for permanent residence purposes. Class "A" multiple dwellings include apartments buildings and "apartment hotels," and most other types of apartments. Multiple Dwelling Law § 4 (8) (a).

  • A "Class 'B'" multiple dwelling is a multiple dwelling which is generally occupied transiently, as the temporary abode of individuals or families who are lodged with or without meals. Class "B" multiple dwellings include hotels, rooming houses, club houses, college and school dormitories, and dwellings designed as private dwellings but occupied by one or two families with five or more transient boarders, roomers, or lodgers in one household. Multiple Dwelling Law § 4 (9).

In addition to setting the minimum standards for Class "A" and Class "B" dwellings, the Multiple Dwelling Law, the Multiple Residence Law, and the Housing Maintenance Code set forth the owner's and the tenant's responsibilities concerning compliance, registration requirements for owners, and enforcement mechanisms that range from the imposition of civil penalties for the failure to correct violations to the destruction of buildings constituting nuisances. See the charts below.

In addition, they set forth tenant remedies for owners' violations. The New York City Housing Maintenance Code classifies violations of the code into "nonhazardous," or "A," violations, "hazardous," or "B," violations, and "immediately hazardous," or "C," violations. New York City Administrative Code § 27-2115 (d). The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has promulgated a list of violations classified as "rent impairing" violations under Multiple Dwelling Law § 302-a. See 28 RCNY § 25-191.

Practice Tip: Because of the complexity of the laws governing housing standards, and their variability according to building type, it is essential to refer to the actual laws, local and state housing codes, and such other codes as building and sanitary codes in order to ascertain which standards apply to a given building. In addition, relevant information can be found in state and local regulations.


Condition Housing Maintenance Code (Administrative Code of the City of New York) § Multiple Dwelling Law §
Artificial lighting 27-2037 to 27-2040 64 (1)
Boiler room 27-2033 (access) 65
Building entrance doors and intercom N/A 50-a
Cellar entrance N/A 54
Elevator mirrors 27-2042 51-b
Entrance halls (bells) N/A 57
Fire protection, fire escapes and smoke detecting devices 27-2044 to 27-2046 53, 68, 232
Heat 27-2028, 79; Energy Law § 17-103
Hot water, water supply 27-2024, 27-2025, 27-2031, 27-2032 75
Lead paint 27-2056.1 et seq. (Local Law 1 of 2004) N/A
Lighting and ventilation 27-2057 to 27-2062 30, 217
Lobby attendant services N/A 50-c
Locks to apartment doors; landlord's right to key 27-2043 51-c
Mail service 27-2047 57
Painting 27-2013 to 27-2016 29, 80
Peepholes 27-2041 51-a
Privacy N/A 82
Repairs, vermin, waste collection, janitorial services 27-2005, 27-2011, 27-2018, 27-2019, 27-2021, 27-2023, 27-2052 to 27-2056 78, 80, 81, 83
Room size minimums and occupancy regulations 27-2074 to 27-2080; 27-2082 to 27-2088 31, 34
Sewers and drainage 27-2026, 27-2027 77
Stairs N/A 52
Tenant's responsibilities 27-2009, 27-2012 78, 80
Vehicle storage N/A 60
Water closets and bathrooms 27-2063 to 27-2069 76

Comparison of Multiple Dwelling Law and Multiple Residence Law Provisions

The Multiple Dwelling Law applies to cities with a population of 325,000 or more (i.e., New York City), while the Multiple Residence Law applies to cities with less than 325,000 and to all towns and villages. Note that municipalities may by local law adopt housing standards that are as strict as the Multiple Dwelling Law or stricter.

Condition                                          MDL §           MRL §

Artificial lighting                                64(1)           32, 109
Boiler room                                        65              139
Building entrance doors and intercom               50-a            28
Cellar ceilings                                    --              30
Cellar entrance                                    54              --
Cellar stairs                                      --              31
Elevator mirrors                                   51-b            --
Entrance halls (bells)                             57              --
Fire protection, fire escapes, smoke detectors     53, 68, 232     133
Heat                                               79              173
Hot water and water supply                         75              41, 170
Lighting and ventilation                           30, 217         103
Lobby attendant services                           50-c            --
Locks to apartment doors, LL's right to key        51-c            --
Mail service                                       57              --
Motor vehicle storage                              60              136
Painting                                           29, 80          --
Peepholes                                          51-a            --
Privacy                                            82              --
Repair, vermin, waste collection, janitor          78, 80, 81, 83  40, 174
Room size minimums and occupancy regulations       31, 34          104, 106
Sewers and drainage                                77              43, 172
Stairs                                             52              28, 132
Tenant's responsibilities                          78, 80          40, 174
Water closets and bathrooms                        76              42, 171

Reference: Adapted from Scherer, ed., Residential Landlord-Tenant Law in New York (2006).

Other resources:
Repairs & Maintenance FAQ from the NYC Rent Guidelines Board
Tenant's Rights Guide from the NYS Attorney General.
HPD Complaint Hotline information
A Tenant's Right to Repairs by South Brooklyn Legal Services
How Can I Get Repairs from My Landlord? by MFY Legal Services
How Can I Get Repairs If I Live in a NYCHA Apartment? by MFY Legal Services
HP Actions for Repairs and Services by Housing Court Answers (also available in Spanish, French, Hindi, and Russian)
HPDOnline New York City's housing code violation and Multiple Dwelling Registration database.

Last updated: June 28, 2013