People live in all types of apartments in New York. Some are nicer than others and some are also much more expensive than others. When people pay higher rent, they expect more from the landlords, but no matter what a tenant pays for rent, they expect the unit and building will be in good repair. Most would not accept a building needing repairs to make it safe or a building that did not have water or heat all the time. If those would not provided, they would most likely have a landlord/tenant dispute.
Tenants actually have a right to those types of things. Landlords must keep the building habitable and this cannot be waived by a provision in a lease. Landlords must keep the water running and heat on as well as taking care of problems such as mold or insect infestations. They are also responsible for keeping the common areas of the building in good repair as well. They must ensure that the tenants can live their daily lives without potential health and safety concerns based on the condition of the building.
If the landlord breaches the warranty of habitability, the tenant may be able to receive a rent reduction. The tenant does have the duty to notify the landlord of the problems though. If they do not notify the landlord, they would not be entitled to the rent reduction. The amount of the reduction would be based on how much the problem reduced the value of the apartment. The tenant could also in some circumstances make the repairs and then deduct the costs from their rent.
Most apartments in New York are fairly common apartments. However, even though the tenant may not be paying as much rent as the expensive apartment buildings, the landlord still has the duty to make sure that the building is habitable. If they do not, the tenant may be entitled to a rent reduction. Experienced attorneys understand both tenants and landlords rights and duties and may be a useful resource.
Source: ag.ny.gov, "Tenants' Rights Guide," accessed Aug. 3, 2017