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New York's homestead protection law authorizes elderly or disabled persons threatened with foreclosure or eviction to remain in their homes. During the bankruptcy process, these laws protect property owners from losing all of their home equity (or the portion of the property that an individual owns outright). The following post will help illustrate the requirements to qualify for a homestead exemption, the state of New York's adverse property, and real estate laws.

The legal battles and regulations that are currently taking place can be attributed to the debates surrounding property rights and real estate at the state level. Understanding New York's property laws is crucial due to the state's increasing population. Below, you will find valuable information about the state’s property laws that can be helpful.

New York Homestead Laws

In New York, homestead laws allow folks to claim a portion of their property as a "homestead" to protect them from a forced sale. In New York, a homestead is considered your primary living residence and any surrounding land you own. When filing for bankruptcy, individuals can claim a homestead tax exemption under New York or federal law but cannot file both.

New York law allows property owners to declare certain exemptions based on location. These monetary entitlements can range from $75,000 to $150,000 (doubled in cases of married couples), which may be used for burial plots and homes. You can file for bankruptcy in New York after you have lived there for more than 180 days. However, you must become a resident of New York at least 730 days before filing to utilize the state's homestead exemption. 

What is considered a homestead in New York?

The state of New York considers a homestead to be the place of primary residence of an individual. The homeowner must regularly live on the property to qualify for this exemption. A homestead can be:

  • A House (and the adjoining land).

  • Unit(s) of a condo (shares in a cooperative apartment are considered personal property for this purpose.

  • A mobile home.

Urban homesteads are "land parcels not larger than 10 acres located in zones that restrict residential use to one-, two-, or three-family residential dwelling." Urban real estate must be used as either a home only or as a home and business. Furthermore, a rural homestead is a parcel of land up to 205 acres (typically for a family). 

Do I get a tax break on my homestead in New York?

New York allows individuals to claim exemptions from their homestead or file for bankruptcy under the federal bankruptcy code. However, the exemption is less than the state provides. Federal law provides an exemption of $22,975 (which can be doubled for married couples), which includes the cost of burial plots. However, the state offers more extensive protections and exemptions. The below amounts invested into the home are protected from seizure in the state of New York:

  • $150,000 for Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, New York, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties.

  • $125,000 for Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, and Ulster counties.

  • $75,000 for other surrounding counties.

New York  Property Line and Fence Laws

While many New York residents do not have the opportunity to draw their property lines, there are occasions when property owners and neighborhood associations need to do so. Whether you live in the heart of Manhattan or the more remote upstate, you must be informed of your rights and responsibilities regarding your property lines. 

Fencing laws

Due to New York's dense population, there are few laws regarding the division of fence lines other than in the context of rural properties, such as ranches and farms. In that context, the division should "make and maintain a just and equitable portion" of the property. The owner constructing or repairing a division fence can recover up to 20 percent of the proportionate cost from their neighbor. 


New York is not free-range, meaning all livestock and/ or poultry must be enclosed in good pastures and shelters for their health and safety needs. New York's Department of Agriculture requires the proper identification of animals and record of all transactions, point of origin, and final placement.

Spite fences

A spite fence is a barrier assembled to annoy or challenge a neighbor's property boundaries. In New York, a spite fence exceeds 10 feet high, typically blocking views or entry access. However, it is not always easy to prove the intentions of your neighbors, and it is advisable to consult your city and neighborhood association's conditions and restrictions for local rules regarding fence-building disagreements. 

Tree trimming laws

While trees can be a pleasant landscaping aesthetic, they often cause disputes between neighbors. For example, trees that extend over a shared fence may pose a risk of injury or damage to property, or they can prevent a  neighbor from enjoying a  scenic view. However, by law, you maintain the right to cut back any branches that stretch past your established property line, but you may not destroy the tree.

New York Adverse Possession Laws

Often known as Adverse possession, an individual who has occupied or tended to a property for a certain period can become the legal possessor of the property. Adverse possession can apply to all types of property in New York, from rural to urban properties, and whether or not the land has been fully developed. Regardless, an adverse possession claim alters titles of land ownership. 

While these requirements may seem straightforward, winning the property and securing a title change in the possession of the property may be a complex legal matter. Whether or not you are an individual wanting to gain property through adverse possession laws or you are looking to claim ownership of an occupied property, you will likely need a legal professional to review your case. Contact a New York real estate attorney to stand the best chance of winning your adverse possession claim. 

1. Hostile (trespassing)

Under New York's trespassing law, section 140.05, "It is against the law to enter onto another person's property or remain on another person's property without that person's permission. If you do so, you could be charged under New York Penal Law with trespass." To prove that you trespassed, the accused must show that:

  • They entered (or remained in) the property of another person and

  • They did so knowingly. 

2. Actual (control over the property)

This means that you have full authority over the physical property (meaning you have physically lived in the house) you possess.

3. Exclusive and continuous

This means that you have regularly and continuously occupied the property that you own

4. Government lands are immune from adverse possession claims.

A governmental body cannot lose a property title by adverse possession when the property maintains its governmental facility. 

5. Statutory periods

New York law requires that the land be used for at least ten years before the adverse possessor gains the title of the property.

New York Concealed Handgun Laws

As of September 1, 2022, possessing a firearm, rifle, or shotgun is illegal unless you obtain a pistol or revolver license. In New York, you are prohibited from holding a premise license and a concealed carry license. A premise license "Authorizes the license holder to possess a firearm at a certain location, such as their home or place of business. A concealed carry license " authorizes the license holder to carry a pistol or revolver on their person."

New York Lease and Rental Agreement Laws

New York law dictates the method in which lease and rental agreements are enforced, such as anti-discrimination policies, security to deposits, and monthly rental rates.

Security Deposits

According to New York law, landlords can only “charge up to one month of rent for a security deposit or “advance payment.”

Rental Agreements

In most circumstances, rent increases are confined to 3%, but "park owners can raise the rent up to 6%" (A park owner can increase your rent, including the adjacent lot rent and any fees or utilities that service the park). However, If a park owner requests a rent increase greater than 3%, you can appeal the increase in court. 


In the state of New York, landlords cannot deny you an apartment, rental home, or any other type of rental based on specific characteristics such as, but not limited to, sex, age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, marital status, military status, and disability. It is also illegal to prevent renting based on past legal conflicts with a landlord.

Renter’s Rights

It is illegal in New York for landlords to intentionally force tenants to vacate their homes or otherwise give up their renter's rights under the law. Essentially, your landlord is legally prohibited from interfering with the comfort and privacy of your home. The following list should help illustrate your rights as a renter. However, seeking legal counsel is advisable to ensure you are fully protected. 

Health and Safety

Suppose your property (rented or owned) does not have acceptable heat or hot water on a routine basis, fails to rid your property of insect infestation, or overcharges your tenant fees. In that case, your landlord has violated your renter's suitability right. You should contact either New York's Department of Housing and Urban Development or a private lawyer representing your needs. 


It is illegal for a landlord to threaten, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or anyone assisting others in exercising that right. A landlord cannot act against tenants who complain about safety and health laws violations, inhospitable or non-repairable conditions, or violations of specific rights under the agreed upon lease. 

Withholding Rent

It's legal to withhold rent until the landlord makes major repairs under the implied warranty of habitability in New York. However, tenants must notify their landlords of the problem and give them a reasonable amount of time (3-5 business days) to fix it. 

Other Disputes

While tenants can go to court without an attorney to obtain a repair order or combat a retaliation issue, you may find it best to have an experienced real estate attorney present to help your situation. 

New York Law Concerning Real Estate Fraud

Residential mortgage fraud (or theft) occurs when false statements on a mortgage loan, deeds, or other liens against a property without an owner's consent, falsely represent a past or material fact. However, New York law regarding property rights can be complicated, so hiring a licensed real estate attorney is crucial if you believe you've been a victim of fraud. 

Who Regulates Real Estate Laws in New York?

The New York State Board of Real Estate oversees all real estate business in the state of New York. However, when it comes to property disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, and adverse possession laws, these are commonly considered civil issues and are best addressed through New York’s Department of Housing and Urban Development.  

What Is the Statute of Limitations in New York

As of April 2022, the New York statute of limitations for a landlord to sue a credit transaction has been reduced from six years to three. 

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