How Do I Force My Unresponsive Landlord to Make Needed Repairs?

Pat J. Fraley

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Q: I reside in a lease-stabilized apartment in a medium-measurement, prewar making in Brooklyn. A couple of months back, the ceiling in my shower started off leaking. Then, a chunk of the ceiling higher than the leak collapsed. The tremendous coated the gap with cardboard but by no means in fact fastened the leak or ceiling. I have identified as various occasions, and he usually claims “tomorrow” but hardly ever fixes it. I have also named administration 2 times and despatched pics. The wall appears to be to be becoming moldy. The cardboard is starting up to drop apart. What must I do?

A: There is fairly a whole lot you can do. Commence by contacting 311 to ask for an inspection from the Department of Housing Preservation and Growth. An inspector would most most likely issue a violation, which may well not remedy your dilemma straight away but would generate a paper trail of evidence.

“In common, obtaining violations positioned doesn’t do a lot,” stated Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan law firm who represents tenants. “Landlords will almost never answer.”

At the identical time, file what is regarded as an HP continuing in housing court docket. It’s essentially a lawsuit filed towards the landlord, whereby you question the courtroom to order the repairs. “This is the fastest way to get it accomplished,” Mr. Himmelstein explained. These situations are likely to shift rapidly, and the landlord normally settles and agrees to the repairs.


This procedure really should undoubtedly get your ceiling fastened. Resolving the mould may be much more complicated. Mildew remediation is not low-priced and can from time to time be intensive. You would want to demonstrate that you have mildew, and your images alone will not be enough. You would also have to employ the service of your individual expert to figure out the extent of the trouble and make recommendations for remediation, Mr. Himmelstein reported. Mildew can pose significant health hazards, so, if you are involved about it, you might want to consider this extra phase.

You need to also be entitled to a hire abatement for this period of time. Start by asking the landlord for 1. If your request is rebuffed — as it almost certainly will be — you can withhold lease completely. If the landlord took you to housing court docket for nonpayment, your protection would be that the circumstances violated your warranty of habitability, a state rule. You would in the end have to fork out back some of the rent for that time period of time, but not all of it.

Having said that, once your ceiling is repaired, you could possibly decide that the lease abatement is not worth the headache of yet another working day in court.

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