Most people know what a lucrative field real estate can be. Not many people understand how complex it is. Real estate law deals with a variety of issues related to possession and tenancy. In New York, real estate laws are written at the state level, though they may be supplemented by local laws in cities. Real estate laws address a variety of disputes and misunderstandings that can arise between landlords and tenants. They also take into account the problems that can arise during a sale or property transfer.

New York’s real estate laws are fairly comprehensive, but still have some gaps that can be frustrating for tenants and landlords. For example, most states or localities specify when a renter’s deposit must be returned. In New York, the standard for that is vague. Whereas most places specify a time limit of 14 or 30 days, in New York, the only guideline is within a reasonable time. Reasonable is open to interpretation, and this can lead to disputes among landlords and tenants. Luckily, New York State has landlord-tenant courts where these disputes are resolved.

Real estate laws in New York also have quirky features that can be helpful to tenants. For example, during bankruptcy proceedings, New Yorkers can declare that part of their property is their homestead. This portion of the property is then set aside, so to speak. Homestead laws in New York mean that people going through bankruptcy may not have to worry about homelessness, too. This is a particularly important protection for elderly and disabled New Yorkers. Typically, the range of value for a homestead is $75,000 to $150,000. For married couples, these amounts are doubled.

Adverse possession laws in New York offer a way for communities to ensure improvements to property, while also rewarding good tenants. Adverse possession requires that a person publicly live on a property, make improvements, and pay taxes on it. After ten years of this type of tenancy, the person then takes possession or ownership of the property. Adverse possession is a rare thing in modern real estate. However, it’s an important option for all kinds of communities that have seen a downturn. Occupied, cared-for properties tend not to have problems in the way abandoned ones do.