Tenant's Guide

New York City is a city of renters, and we are here to help you protect yourself from unscrupulous landlords. You have rights that protect you from dangerous living conditions, or tactics used to force you out of your home. DOB’s tenant information provides a guide to available the resources that protect you before you move in, during your rental term, and after you leave your rental home.

Contact our Office of the Tenant Advocate (OTA) at (212) 393-2949 or at tenantadvocate@buidlings.nyc.gov for questions or to report construction issues with your building.

Our Role

The Department of Buildings (DOB) protects renters in a variety of ways. Our role is focused mainly on ensuring NYC’s buildings are safe to live in from the perspective of how they are constructed our maintained. We also enforce rules to protect tenants during construction, and to prevent landlords from using construction to make their tenants miserable and force them from their homes. In addition, we inspect elevators and gas hookups for defects or illegal work that could pose a serious threat to our fellow New Yorkers.

That said, we are not the only City or State agency with a role in protecting tenants. Many other situations you face as a renter are not covered by DOB. Other City and State Agencies are here to help you for the following issues:

  • Asbestos: NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducts emergency inspections for asbestos complaints.
  • Dust: NYC Department of Health and Human Services tests for presence of lead and other toxins in construction dust.
  • Heat, Hot Water and Other Maintenance Issues: NYC Housing Preservation and Development handles all maintenance complaints and conducts inspections.
  • Legal Services: Call 311 and ask for the tenant helpline.
  • Noise: Noise complaints, even construction noise, are handled by NYC Department of Environmental Protection. DEP conducts decibel tests for noise levels.
  • Resources for Tenants: Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants provides access to tenant resources, including free legal services for eligible households.
  • Tenant Rights: NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal has oversight for rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments.
  • Looking to Rent: When you are looking for a new rental home, DOB is here to assist you in making sure that home is adequately safe. Be aware of the dangers of Illegal Conversions, and keep your eyes peeled for signs that the home being presented to you is not up to code or safe to live in.

Learn how to use DOB databases to see the history of complaints and violations at a property and how to spot an Illegal Conversion.

Find out how we can help you.