The acts of an unscrupulous New York landlord sometimes reach a point of being so egregious that extraordinary measures are called for. Fortunately, tenants who are victimized by outrageous conditions or treatment have options that pack legal power. One of the most effective is a rent strike.
In this difficult economic climate, when many tenants are losing jobs or have their backs against the wall financially, pooling monetary resources with other building occupants will help you preserve your legal rights. It's a strategy perfectly suited to the times.
Band together with other tenants. If other tenants in your building are also victims of landlord negligence, consider hiring an attorney to represent you as a group, acting in unison. Multiple complaints from several tenants can save on attorney's fees, strengthen your case, and make landlord abuse clear to the Court.
The tenants, as a unified group, can protest substandard, building-wide conditions that undermine livability and safety for everyone. You can also band together to challenge individual complaints affecting several tenants, since the landlord's treatment of these residents may pose a future threat to others if it's allowed to continue. An example would be the landlord's attempt to exploit selected tenants with attempts at unlawful eviction. You can certainly combine both types of claims, if that's what you're dealing with.
Organizing a coordinated tenant effort is not easy, but it's a powerful tool and sometimes necessary. Improving conditions for everyone, making the building safe, peaceful, and livable for each tenant, and getting the landlord to shape up and act like a decent human being, are goals worth winning.
Here's an example of the spectrum of complaints a unified tenant's group can present in Court. In representing a tenant's association against a landlord who neglected the building for some fifteen years, McAdams Law alerted the Court to these horrific conditions which existed at various times: the elevator was shut down more often than it worked, there was no heat or hot water, the building entrance would not lock, strangers loitered in the halls, bed bugs, roaches and mice infested the building, kitchen ranges leaked gas, refrigerators broke down, a tenant suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, a small child watched an intruder shoot his father dead in the public hallway, and disabled patients had to move into nursing homes because the defective elevator trapped them in the building.