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Tenant rights to habitability and repairs in New York

New York tenants are entitled to basic rights surrounding the quality of their living conditions, as laid out in the Warranty of Habitability. This warranty guarantees all tenants to a residence that is livable, safe and sanitary. This right applies to all rental leases, regardless of whether they are written or oral. In addition, if your landlord includes a stipulation in their lease that contradicts this policy, that condition is invalid under the law.

There are many infractions that constitute a breach of this warranty. For example, it is illegal for a landlord to fail to:

  • Provide working plumbing
  • Provide regular heat and hot water
  • Provide extermination services in the event of infestation
  • Provide smoke detectors
  • Make repairs to any part of the property, which jeopardizes tenant safety

Recourse for tenants

If you are living in a rental property with uninhabitable conditions, there are a few options available to you:

  • You can sue your landlord for reduction in rent.
  • You can submit a rent reduction complaint to the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Before filing such a complaint, you must first contact your landlord in writing about the problem. You are permitted to submit your complaint 10–50 days after that.
  • You can refuse to pay rent. Note that with this option, you run this risk of your landlord suing you for non-payment. In response, you have the option of countersuing for breach of warranty.

No one deserves to live in conditions unfit for human habitation. Talking to an attorney experienced in landlord-tenant disputes can help you understand what you’re entitled to under the law.

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