In New York, landlords must provide tenants with safe and habitable living conditions. This includes maintaining structural components, providing heat and ensuring that plumbing and electrical systems work.
If a landlord neglects these duties, tenants have several avenues to pursue.
Document the problems
Before taking any action, tenants should document the issues requiring repair. Photographs and videos serve as excellent evidence, capturing the extent and nature of the problem. When discussing issues with the landlord, communicate in writing to maintain a record of all interactions.
Send a written notice
If the landlord does not address the issue after initial communication, the next step is to send a written notice. In this letter, specify the problems and set a reasonable deadline for completing the repairs. This formal approach highlights the seriousness of the matter.
Engage in mediation
Sometimes, a communication breakdown between the landlord and tenant can lead to unresolved disputes. Mediation serves as a potential solution in such scenarios. New York offers community dispute resolution centers that can help parties come to a resolution.
Use the warranty of habitability
New York State law provides tenants with the “warranty of habitability.” If a landlord fails to make necessary repairs, tenants can withhold rent. However, tenants should place the withheld rent in an escrow account to prove their willingness to pay once the landlord addresses the issues. It is a significant step and requires careful consideration.
Seek help from local agencies
If a landlord does not follow their obligations, tenants can report the violations, which can then initiate an inspection. If the inspectors find violations, they will order the landlord to make necessary repairs.
If a landlord still refuses to make repairs and living conditions become unbearable, tenants might consider relocating. Before moving out, understand the lease terms and the implications of breaking it early.
Since renters inhabit 36% of households in America, being aware of tenant rights is important. One can ensure safe and habitable living conditions by understanding these rights and following the correct processes.