Updated date:

Tenants' Rights 101: The Warranty of Habitability in New York

Nick Moccia is an attorney admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York.

New York tenant's rights can be tricky. Read on to learn more.

New York tenant's rights can be tricky. Read on to learn more.

Warranty of Habitability

Every lease for residential property impliedly contains what's called the "Warranty of Habitability."

What the Warranty of Habitability Implies

  1. That the premises are fit for human habitation;
  2. That the condition of the premises is in accord with the uses reasonably intended by the parties; and
  3. That the tenants are not subjected to any conditions endangering or detrimental to their life, health, or safety.’

What If a Landlord Breaches the Warranty of Habitability?

If a landlord breaches the Warranty of Habitability, a tenant does not have to pay rent to a landlord. "The obligation to pay rent is dependent upon the landlord's satisfactory maintenance of the premises in habitable condition" (Park West Management Corp. v. Mitchell, 47 N.Y.2d 316).

Furthermore, if your landlord takes you to court because you owe rent, judges regularly grant tenants a reduction in the arrears if the judge finds there was a breach of the Warranty of Habitability.

Also, although landlords often add unenforceable clauses to leases in order to intimidate tenants from seeking to enforce their rights, you are not always required by law to obey these unenforceable clauses, even if you signed the lease.

Lastly, the law does not permit a waiver of this warranty in the lease. If your landlord attempts to do so, such a waiver in unenforceable as contrary to public policy.

Determining Whether Warranty of Habitability Has Been Breached

To determine whether your landlord has breached the Warranty of Habitability, you have to ask yourself the following question:

Would a reasonable person consider such defect(s) a deprivation of those essential functions which a residence is expected to provide?

(Operative language: "deprivation of essential functions." In other words, does the present condition of the space prevent you from using it for its intended purpose?)

The following have been considered to be breaches of the Warranty of Habitability in the State of New York.

Breaches of the Warranty of Habitability in New York State

  • Asbestos which could become air-borne in the tenants' apartment.
  • Decrease in or lack of elevator service.
  • Broken floor tiles which create a hazardous condition.
  • Substantial accumulations of garbage that lead to infestations of insects or vermin.
  • Failure to provide heat and hot water for extended periods.
  • Severe infestation of insects and vermin.
  • Lead-based paint, especially where small children reside.
  • Deprivations of air, light, and/or ventilation.
  • Excessive noise as from construction, mechanical equipment, or even neighboring tenants when the landlord fails to take effective steps to abate the nuisance.
  • offensive fumes and odors.
  • Defective plumbing.
  • Inadequate security (e.g. damaged entrance locks, door buzzers, etc.).
  • Sewage leaks and spills.
  • Failure to provide smoke detectors.
  • Disruptions in water service.
  • Lack of window guards when required by local ordinances to protect children.

Invoking the Breach of Warranty of Habitability

The single most important thing to remember about invoking the breach of warranty of habitability as a defense in a landlord/tenant proceeding is that you give notice in writing to your landlord regarding the defective condition in your space. If he is not given notice and does not have a reasonable opportunity to rectify the situation, you may lose your right to invoke the warranty of habitability.

A best practice is to send written notice according to the terms of your lease, or if your lease does not specify, send written notice via first class mail return receipt requested as well as a courtesy copy via e-mail or facsimile.

New York State Real Property Law s. 235-b

The Warranty of Habitability

  1. In every written or oral lease or rental agreement for residential premises the landlord or lessor shall be deemed to covenant and warrant that the premises so leased or rented and all areas used in connection therewith in common with other tenants or residents are fit for human habitation and for the uses reasonably intended by the parties and that the occupants of such premises shall not be subjected to any conditions which would be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or safety. When any such condition has been caused by the misconduct of the tenant or lessee or persons under his direction or control, it shall not constitute a breach of such covenants and warranties.
  2. Any agreement by a lessee or tenant of a dwelling waiving or modifying his rights as set forth in this section shall be void as contrary to public policy.
  3. In determining the amount of damages sustained by a tenant as a result of a breach of the warranty set forth in the section, the court; (a) need not require any expert testimony; and (b) shall, to the extent the warranty is breached or cannot be cured by reason of a strike or other labor dispute which is not caused primarily by the individual landlord or lessor and such damages are attributable to such strike, exclude recovery to such extent, except to the extent of the net savings, if any, to the landlord or lessor by reason of such strike or labor dispute allocable to the tenant's premises, provided, however, that the landlord or lesser has made a good faith attempt, where practicable, to cure the breach. (c) where the premises is subject to regulation pursuant to the local emergency housing rent control law, the emergency tenant protection act of nineteen seventy-four, the rent stabilization law of nineteen hundred sixty-nine or the city rent and rehabilitation law, reduce the amount awarded hereunder by the total amount of any rent reduction ordered by the state division of housing and community renewal pursuant to such laws or act, awarded to the tenant, from the effective date of such rent reduction order, that relates to one or more matters for which relief is awarded hereunder.

Landlord/Tenant Cases in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx

The Housing Court in Brooklyn is located at 141 Livingston Street. If you receive a notice in the mail requiring your appearance, it is imperative that you respond and take appropriate action immediately. This includes documenting any conditions in the building that may constitute a breach of the Warranty of Habitability.

If you have any questions about your case, please feel free to give me a call at 718-701-5772.

If you need representation on a landlord/tenant matter, I handle appearances in all five boroughs of the City of New York (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Bronx). I am usually in Brooklyn (Kings County).

I am able to make appointments in Brooklyn and Manhattan locations upon request.

Case Updates

Landlord v. Tenant, 2011 NY Slip Op 52490(U) (Weschester County June 13, 2011) (where Westchester Court found disturbances due to the landlord's construction on neighboring lot to be a breach of warranty of habitability).

The Court finds Landlord breached the warranty of habitability for the construction period commencing the last week in February 2011. In 487 Elmwood v. Hassett, supra, the Court granted a rent abatement based on the noise, vibrations and dust caused by jack hammering and other construction. Forest Hill v. Schimmel, supra, holds in relevant part that where there are conditions which frustrate the reasonably intended use of a Garden Apartment's outdoor common area the tenant is entitled to a rent abatement.

For purposes of warranty of habitability the Court finds Tenant met her burden. The Court credits her testimony, which includes vibrations during jack hammering, mud, uncontroverted testimony regarding porta potty odor, and unpleasantries. Landlord claims Tenant renewed her lease subject to the construction because of his early conversation with Tenant. However any conversation regarding "future" construction with Tenant was vague, not at all intended to inform her of legal consequences and not sufficient notice under the law. In addition Tenant's photographs speak for themselves regarding diminution of value. Accordingly the Court finds the Tenant is entitled to a 20% rent abatement from the last week in February 2011.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


NomoreABUSE60 on November 13, 2018:


I have had it with Property Mangement abuse and lying! This will be my third round with slumlords since my disability. My disability is due to slipping on ice because of faulty gutters.

There is a housing shortage, especially in my county. I had a beautiful apartment and a lovely landowner for two years, and unfortunately, he had to sell. He sold the house to the Devil’s Spawn! He took away my storage, all of it. I was too sick to be on top of it, and he rented a storage unit twice the size and expense needed. I had to pay $148.00 for three months last winter for the sale of this house. The next gift given, was a text stating I overpaid my rent! Smiley emojis all over the text, how wonderful, you will have $126.00 more in my account. It was a ploy. She showed up with a check and a notice of non renewal of my lease. I have been homeless since July 25th, 2018, living with my X in his tiny one bedroom.

No one wanted to rent to me. I live in a tight neighborhood and small city, where I know many people. I have CRPS and Chronic Lyme Disease. I also have a masters degree. Moving forward...

I found an apartment on a gorgeous piece of property, and the river views make it possible for these people to rent this property to low income and younger people. Because of being disabled and living on a fixed income, I am grateful to receive housing benefits from HUD.

The apartment was inspected and it passed. What went unnoticed by the inspector, my 30 year old Son, a friend and myself,,,the apartment has No Bathroom Sink! Unfortunately, when I picked up the key, I put down $950.00 on this apartment. I met one of the neighbors, who told me that the apartment had no sink. I was floored. What an idiot I am.

Now what! They won’t give me the deposit back. This is not over, and I’m tired of writing, so I will end here. Please, give me advise. Thank you. Be well.

Jenna on September 27, 2018:

Hello, I started renting a home located 20 feet from a main road that intersects with another main road. The home has a stop light right in front for both of the streets.

Since I'm not from this area, and was told that the home is not affected by the traffic I ended up renting it. Let me say renting this home was the WORST thing that I ever could have done! Traffic from constant 18 wheelers that haul steel 24 hrs a day, vibrates my hole house when they stop & go. Then to make matters worse, there's a old fire station close by that sounds these horrific alarms off 4 times at all day & night. Even at 3:30 am that wakes me & my children up out of a dead sleep. I've put loud fans two plus ac units in our rooms and still hear the noises. There's no privacy and cannot get out of my own driveway, due to cars & trucks blocking me in. Isn't that against the law to have vehicles block you in? I've called left several voice mails to only be ignored & disrespected by landlords assistant. I asked the assistant to please allow me to put a fence up to block some noise and her response was I had to pay for it. That didn't go over well with me! I also have several leaks causing my water bill to skyrocket but yet this slum lord wants $1,100 for a old broken down shack located 20 feet on a main road. Just say I'm buying a home soon and he will have a rude awakening because no one in their right mind would rent this horrible place.

Kathleen on September 12, 2018:

Our apartment is infested with mice and Roaches. Our landlord will get pissed if we call and say we can move if we don't like it. There is no heat in the master bedroom not the back bedroom. The windows are very hard to close and the house looks horrible. There's is a very strong urine smell that will not leave in the back bedroom. Everytime we ask for him to fix anything we get threatened to get kicked out. My carriers are coming up there's glad under them. What can I do? My mother is disabled I have a nice month old daughter and I have really bad asthma. The mice eat through everything there's poop everywhere. I'm at a total loss and I'm in desperate need of help.

brian P. Atkinson on September 10, 2018:

My landlord Ms. Lauren V. Walling of Beacon New York proceeded to conduct residential renovations which involved disturbing asbestos insulation for an on going period of two months . The Asbestos Control Group of Dutchess County suspended the project on 8/28/18.

Alisha on January 07, 2018:

I have a landlord that pumped my septic in freezing cold conditions but refuses to realize the bk up in my home plumbing needs clearing as well all the bk up froze and noe we use a bucket to relieve ourselves is this legal or right tomorrow will be five days like this can't run water in sinks or toilets over flow help legal advice please

Maria on December 22, 2017:

Hi I'm trying to get help in proving that the super that lives right below me is setting off lethal pesticide fumes directly into only my apartment in a hidden manner . And no one has helped me in any way I called the Dec the DEP the health department the police and no one has helped us. It hurts to breathe it burns your chest your eyes very bad headaches body cramps you can't sleep because your heart is racing it makes you feel like you wanna jump out of your skin my granddaughter is six years old and started getting very bad nose bleeds please can anyone help us. Went to the hospital they don't test for pesticides went to the doctors she did a test it was negative but she said without the can she could not find out what to test for. Could anyone out there help us please

Kerry on November 20, 2017:

Hello I have a question about my wife signed a lead foe one apartment and we didn't like it so they wanted us to sign a lease foe a different apartment but we never signed anything they signed it for us and we didn't get a copie of it. And we have been in this apartment foe among now and we hate it and I am wondering if we have any rights if they decide to kick us out?

Jon on February 01, 2017:

There was a Gas leak in my apartment a week 2 weeks ago. two week without heat, hot water or cooking in NYC winter. I want to ask for this month for free. would this fall into The Warranty of Habitability? what could I do?

mg2016newyork on December 30, 2016:

multifamily dwelling with only 1 apartment being utilized, rest of house is gutted fully down to studs and asbestos siding, missing windows. vent free gas heater is main source of heat, basement windows broken, squirrel infestation, have videos of problems, and phoitos. do i have case on breaking lease and moving out and not responsible for remainder of lease?

Pkp492 on December 09, 2016:

Are questions here still answered? I live on the 2nd floor of a 3 floor walk up in Queens. Last year, tenants moved in downstairs that were extremely loud. I've lived here 9 years and there hasn't ever been an issue. THEN there was a leak in my apartment and the ceiling below had to be rebuilt. Now, it sounds like there is no soundproofing at all. I can hear a cough very clearly and a reasonably loud TV sounds like I'm at a club. My previous neighbors, and new ones that moved in this week, play music loudly, talk very loudly, yell at football games etc and it's like I'm in their apartment. I complained to my landlord MANY times. I know if the soundproofing were improved, it would reolve most of the issue. Does this fall under warrant of habitability? That my landlord did not properly provide soundproofing has to be a violation of some kind...?

BKALLDAY on November 01, 2016:

City inspector deemed my apartment an emergency lead remediation issue and also ordered mold remediation. LL received order from city to resolve by a certain date or to be penalized/fined. Given that lead paint was discovered on virtually ever surface tested, my family, including by infant son, were advised to not be in the apartment while the construction was being done. Are we responsible for rent while the work, cleaning, and follow-up testing is completed? Most of our belongings are tarped in the middle of 3 rooms and we have been staying with family.

SleepLess in Ny on August 28, 2016:

One more very important comment my Property Mangers Boss (Melody) of Housing Visions of Syracuse NY made to me was That you should expect this when you move into a apartment complex. Also that I could be in volition of my lease if my apartment is not prep for the spray of the pest control company. I have 6 years worth of living and if I packed every room , I would not be able to stay here. Let me know your thoughts thanks

Lorraine on August 18, 2016:

We rented an apartment in a 3 family house in Brooklyn(don't know if legal) with a move in date of August 1st. I paid one months rent and security. When we moved our belongings to the apartment on August 1st, the apartment was not ready. The two back bedrooms were ok but the bathroom, kitchen, living room and dining area were in disrepair. The landlord said he didn't have time to finish sanding and painting the walls, repairing the kitchen sink, dish washer and cabinets, and the toilet and tub. All our belongings are still in boxes with tarps and the apartment is not done. We have been staying in PA but we have to return on the 20th because my husband is getting surgery on the 22nd. We texted the landlord yesterday and he told us it would be done but not ready yet. That is the third time he said that. What do we do if it's not ready? Can we break the lease? Thank you.

Lisa Manhattan on August 17, 2016:

Is it legal for a landlord in NYC Housing Authority to withhold a tenant lease for 6 months, & then charge retro active rent to tenant? Isn't this illegal?

http://hubpages.com/@somethingiswrong on July 19, 2016:

I live in Brooklyn, NY in a partial coop/rental building. My apartment is a rental. Recently my apartment was damaged by a water leak from the coop apartment above me. My management office was not addressing the issue and continued to refer me to the coop board president to resolve the problem because it was the result of a coop apartment. The board president was not trying to resolve the problem and pushing back to the management company of my rental apartment. I had filed several HPD complaints and finally was able to arrange for an inspector to come in. He issued violations for the damage. So I also sent a letter to my management company noted the damages in my letter. NO RESPONSE till day. Recently while my daughter was home another HPD inspector visited and when my daughter opened the door and told the inspector we just had an inspection he said he needed to inspect anyway. So you let him in and she directed him to the kitchen were the damage was. He didn't really pay attention to that but was focused on the futon bed that I have in the adjacent room from my kitchen. He said that she needed to take the bed out of the kitchen. The bed is not in the kitchen is in a adjoining room. He was then done with his inspection and said he was going to file the violation for the bed in the kitchen. My daughter asked him a reference/complaint number and he refused to give it to her and did not want to provide any information except for his name. Sure enough I looked a few days later I see the building violation for the bed in the kitchen. BUT it is in an adjoining room. Worst of I have no complaint number associated with this violation, when in fact I have all the complaint number is filed with 311 but not for this. I believe that this inspector was possible sent by the board president who was upset that they had to fix my apartment and told me out right several times that they weren't going to fix my apartment. Is it a violation to have a futon bed in adjoining room from the kitchen? and my complaint never stated anything about a bed in the kitchen, no did anyone make a complaint about the bed in the adjoining room. It pertained to a water leak, cracks in wall, and ceilings, and peeling paint.

BoHonk on June 20, 2016:

We haven't had drinkable water on tap in over ten years. We get bottled water but often(usually) need to wait for it to be delivered. What is the requirement for drinkable water in a NYS rental?

Natalya on May 13, 2016:

Hi Nicholas,

I'm living in the 6 story building on a six floor.Our elevator was upgraded last summer. it was out of work for 9 weeks. Finally it was done! But now we are received the notice to tenant Of MCI rent increase application. i believe that everyone is suffering due to unstable economic time. Do the tenants responsible for cost of upgrading?

Richard on March 08, 2016:

I rented an apartment a few months ago. There is no window but a door that leads to a semi-private outdoor area (shared with 3 other apartments). The bedroom is lofted. In the winter time, the heat (which we do not control) makes the loft area--where we seleep--unbearably hot. The only way to make it bearable is to open the door to the outside and keep it opened during the nights, which is not so safe. In the summertime there won't be a way to cool down the lofted area at all. Our neighbors' lease is expiring and are moving out because of this reason. We have a 2 year lease. Is there any kind of breach of warranty of habitability if the apartment gets too hot? Does it matter that the landlord never mentioned this when we rented the apartment, even though he was aware of it?

Donna on December 14, 2015:

Renovations to rented condo going on for 5 months now! Today, I finally broke into tears, due to constant construction noise, hammering non-stop, Everyday, Mon-Fri.,from 7:00 am to 6:00pm! It has been hell! I'm sure non-stop hammering is a form of torture, cuz I'm past "losing my mind"! I can't think at all and have become so depressed due to the constant noise! Furthermore, I've become imprisoned because I have strange men hanging all over outside of condo, in my windows, in hallway entry/exits. I can't open curtains for light unless I accept strangers looking in, so no privacy. Whisles n gaulking just to get to my car or back home. I don't think condo regime/POA has any management overseeing project due to all that I've witnessed. (ie no timeframe for completion, no notices for bleach powerwashing of balcony, stuff ruined, including Xmas decor put up the day before, notices requiring me to lock up pets, then no shows....pets suffering too! The list is endless) Living here has been hell, like a warzone! Therefore, shouldn't I get some rent already paid back, plus discount moving forward? I can't afford to move AND pay current rent. What's a tenant to do? Pls advise. This situation has made me sick! I'm in Bluffton, SC. (Hilton Head Island) Thank you very much in advance for any suggestions.

P.S. Rent raised by $115 starting Jan.1st, 2016!

Mega on July 30, 2015:

Can you claim a violation of warranty of habitability if landlord provided temporary housing but neglected to make repairs in a timely fashion.

jazzmine on December 13, 2014:

my landlord sent me a letter after the septic tank was pumped saying i had to pay $360 which was the cost to pump it. he said that maxie pads had clogged the filter. i live in a duplex and share a septic tank with a neighbor. why would my landlord send me the whole bill? we didn't do it. wouldn't he send half to me and half to my neighbor who shares the tank. the last time the tank was pumped he told me their was excessive grease down their and if that happened again i would have to pay to have it pumped. i told him we didn't put grease down the drain and that he should talk to our neighbor. well as far as i know he never did and he has been trying to blame everything on me and make me pay the whole bill when i never put grease, maxie pads or anything else that i am not supposed to down the drain. i have rented from the same company for almost 7 years and the duplex we were in before had a septic tank and we never had any problems. my point is. we have always taken good care of the home that we rent and don't do stuff like that. do i have to take him to court or wait for him to take me to court because i am not paying him $360 when it is his responsibility to pump the tank and i have taken excellent care of his property and all the other ones that i have rented. i have excellent references. again i did not nor did anyone in my home or my family ever put maxie pads down the toilet and i always put my grease in the trash can.

Jessica on November 29, 2014:

My husband and our neighbors have been physically attacked by a dangerous neighbor, and our dangerous neighbor forced his way into our neighbors apartment. We have a cockroach and rat infestation, along with our our other neighbors having a leak that has not been repaired which is causing the ceiling to begin to fall. I have sent a request to break lease due to the situation and have been told that I am responsible for rent until the lease had ended, and any fees that they incur if we leave early. I don't know what to do now?

Ann on September 19, 2014:

My friend is on disability for mental and physical reasons. I am his payee for his SSI payments. I also help him keep his life in order because he is easily confused and can't keep a lot of information in his head. So, since he moved into his apartment a couple of years ago, he has complained of bugs in his room. The landlord took his mattress and he has had to sleep on the floor which, along with the walls and ceiling is covered with thousands of bedbugs. Since his landlord refused to do anything about it and accused him of bringing the bedbugs in. Yesterday he called the Board of Health and they cited the landlord because the apartment is uninhabitable. Today the landlord had a Constable serve the tenant with and eviction notice. It stated that if he was not out by Dec 1 court proceedings would be brought against him. What legal rights does my friend have in this case?

Phyllis on June 17, 2014:

I have been living in my studio apartment for 22 years. I have asthma, chronic sinusitis and had pneumonia. The exhaust fans on the roof were not working for years and there was no ventilation in my apartment, also the kitchen vent was closed and the bathroom vent was not exhausting the dirty dusty air along with odors was coming into the apartment, I have 2 windows facing the back and one window has an air conditioner. The super claims the fans are fixed. Now the landlord wants the super to clean the air vents and I want a professional to clean the vents and ducts which are full of dust and spiders. How can I get the landlord to get a professional air vent/duct cleaner?

ChaosReins on May 15, 2014:


Renting a 1 bedroom apartment in a house in Suffolk County. A few minor repairs need to be done, (hedges blocking the walkway), outside light, microwave and air conditioner are broken, and two outlets aren't working. I was told she would fix it and was OK with that. Here is my problem.....I cannot sleep, her son 20 years old, is selling drugs, i have seen it myself and also smoking them in front of my bedroom window with his customers. He is up and down the stairs all day and night and the driveway is very active with customers too, which is right outside my window, so the headlights blare right in as well as the noise. I told the landlord, and her head is in the sand, he does nothing to conceal what he is doing by any means. She said she "handled it", but 1:30AM I am awoken again (after she handled it) and am becoming very angry over this situation. I am afraid and have my car out in the driveway as well, I do not want the son to know i told for fear he will retaliate. what can I do after I have told her and she has not addressed the issue? Please help.

Angie on May 14, 2014:

Hi there. I live in a doorman high-rise in NYC, and our building is attached to a diner. Whenever we open our windows, we smell diner grease. Does this qualify us for a rent abatement under "offensive odors?"

ellen on May 04, 2014:

we have been offered a very small studio apt in a mittchell lama co-op complex in manhatten. asked to buy it sight unseen. we refused. saw it and my mouth fell open. left unsold for 5 to 7 years. red rust covered tub sink and toilet. dust an inch thick on floors walls ceiling. faucets don't work ,outlets painted over . access to electric panel restricted by being painted over. the apt needs a crime scean cleaning. I asked for the co op mantanance workers to clean but fear they wont. after we buy it can we ask hpd to intercede and fix before we move in? or can we pay for repairs and ask for refund.? rules don't allow us to ask for another apt in better condition. wow what a mess.

bob on April 14, 2014:

Ok i been living in an apartment for 1 and a half years . About seven to eight months ago new tennants moved in . Six weeks after i started seeing roaches i call the land lord every month about it . Well finally the tennants got evicted two weeks ago but the land lord has not taking care of the problem. I have pics of how infested the other apartment is as well as videos . As well as pics and videos of my apartment . Lived here for almost a year without any roaches six weeks after the new tennants moved i. N i saw some called the land lord right away. Almost eight months later the problem is still here ? What should i do i been treating my apartment with my own stuff the wholr time and just recently treated the other apartment on my own . Dont wanna move untilk the issue is solved cuz i dont want to be dragging that around to a new place im so fed up . I have tons of poisin out in my apartment . Only proof i have that it did not come from me is the pics and videos showing that even the empty apartment is soo infested . It shows my house is fairly clean and all the poison plz help tired and fed up

joanne on March 12, 2014:

I have good reason to believe there is asbestos in my rental, I've asked my landlord to see a report on it but he will not show me, only insists that their is no asbestos. Is this legal? what if I have been living in this asbestos for the past year and a half?

Ayisha on February 13, 2014:

I pay my rent on the fifteenth of ever month and have live in my apt. In Brooklyn for at least 10 yrs. on jan 15th I paid rent for 1/15-2/15, however, on 1/18 I did not get any heat, the landlord called me, because the tea net upstairs from complained they were not getting heat. The landlord had someone come and bleed the radiators. The tenant upstairs received heat that night. I have not received heat since. Today is 2/14, rent is do tomorrow. Landlord said again that they have to fix pipe in my place which means the have to break wall and they maybe able to do it next week. What can I do

April on February 04, 2014:

I have five cats, all very healthy and indoors. I also have a dog. There is no roof in the boiler room and a hole in the door caused by workers who half ass fixed the ceiling after superstorm sandy. The super made a police complaint one night becuase two of my cat got stuck in the hallway wall through the boiler room entrance into the ceiling. The only problem the police noticed when I myself invited them into my apartment was cat odor smell. The smell only sometimes is in the hallway near my door during days when I am too busy to clean the apartment. At the same time however, no matter how clean I keep my apartment the fact remains that there is still a faint cat urine odor within the first floor of my one bedroom duplex. My question is whether I can get arrested for animal neglect and abuse and/or have my dog and cats taken away?And can I get evicted for the reasons mentioned above. I have recently gone to great lengths to mask the smell with fabreeze plug-ins and deodorizer sprays which seems to keep the smell down for the most part. My gut feeling is that there is cat urine within the ceiling of the apartment and that if the landlord would keep up the place like he is supposed to then this would not be happening.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on January 08, 2014:

I am not answering questions in this forum. Please visit my website www.nmlawny.com and contact my office directly.

Keiny Henao on January 08, 2014:

Hello Nicholas, I have lived in a building (Not from Housing) in Washington Heights, NYC for many years now(if I had more money, I'd move) and every single winter the very old boiler breaks down. So far, this winter has been the worst! Practically once a week! I have spoken to other tenants and the super and I was informed that if Landlord puts in a new boiler, they will raise the rent. I called several phone numbers to see if this is legal and true and yes it is. At this point, I want them to change it, I'm tired of living in a freezing building every winter! Problem is, most of these tenants of mine won't back me up because they pay cheap rent. At this point, what can I do against or towards the landlord? They always sending the mechanic and I know they get Fined by HPD because super tells me, but Landlord doesn't care. He prefers to keep paying fines and the mechanic than putting a new boiler. So they are aware of the problem, but can care less if we all freeze to death in these ridiculous temperatures. Will I be wasting my time fighting alone in court? What other companies can I reach for help? Thank you.

Casey on January 04, 2014:

Hi Nicholas,

My friend and I just signed a January 1st lease, that seemed clean and bright in Brooklyn. We asked all the right questions of the broker, including if it were bug free, requested the super to be present on signing although he didn't show up and believed to look thoroughly throughout the 6th floor walk up apartment. We had to have movers separately and my roommate was the first one to move in on December 30th (costing $290). She did not get the chance to stay the night until the evening of the first of January. From the time she was finally in around 8, she found an incredible amount of roaches to the point where she couldn't sleep because they were climbing on her bed. We attempted to kill them off ASAP with RAID and called and texted our landlord and broker. In the meantime we had to leave the apartment because of its inhabitable condition leaving my roommates belongings behind. We not only found three nests but noticed baking soda over outlets that had previously not been there (a home remedy for roach control). Speaking to the management company and frustrated they offered us full security deposit and first months back. We did not have the same luck with the broker company. After she verbally attacked my roommate and myself on the phone and told us it wasn't her problem and we weren't getting our money back. I sent a follow up to the real estate agency that represents her and within 2o minutes she offered to pay us back half. Should we take half of the $1650 and cut our losses and lose the $290 for the movers or are we entitled the full sum? Please help.

Eileen Tsiapanos on January 02, 2014:

Hi, I've moved out of my apartment in Nassau County. I had a Sectikn 8 voucher and did move out on the 5th of the month, as my kids' apartment wasn't ready yet. I went in, cleaned up andeft the apartment at 3:30am, so I was not allowed to put out the trash (no foodstuffs-just paper towels and things from cleaning) because one cannot put the trash out before 3PM M-F where I was in a mostly business area. My problem is that my landlord sd the apartment and the new owner is SUPPOSED to be giving back my $1650 in security. It's been almost a month at this point. He keeps telling me that after he gets the bill for throwing out a perfectly good, practically new washer, which I told him he could keep and I'd give him the papers for, among a few other things. One of my problems with all this is that I had to live for 10 (ten ) months without a working oven/broiler tho I repeatedly told my LL about it, as well As the ceing in my daughters room pouring down water 4 years ago on Xmas eve all over her bed, which, fortunately she was NOT in. The ceiling remained all black and leaky despite many attempts to "fix it" and my daughter could not use the sink in her bathroom because of the constant drip. I told my LL about this too and he didn't do anything. I was going to replace the faucet myself but when I went to unscrew the hot water side, the screw disintegrated. There was also a crack in the sink, which I had to put silicone on cuz the LL didn't fix that either, tho I asked him to. Now, what are my rights with the security I have yet to receive back? Please

Henderson on December 31, 2013:

I need your help. I have a problem with noisy neighbors. They blast their stereo at sleeping hours and they have two yappy dogs that bark all night. I have lived in my Bronx apartment for 4 years and they moved in 1 year ago (dogs came about 2 months ago). I have asked them to keep it down and that conversation was pointless. I have contacted the landlord who told me he will let me out of my newly signed lease. I don’t want to move, I just want peace. Is the landlord violating the Warranty of habitability? If so, what can I do? What is my recourse?

jakeeli on November 05, 2013:

Help! My fiance' and I rented a single family home in Forest Hills Gardens. The landlord's husband is a contractor, the home was updated (kitchen, bathrooms). We find out there were no permits, and things were not done correctly. There is no heat in the kitchen, or the downstairs bathroom (no radiators, no vents, no way to actually get heat to come in to the room). There was radiant heating in the floors at one time, but that has been disconnected as apparently it had been illegally connected to the hot water heater (something about potable water?). So now we have no heat. The parts of the system that does work has the most horrendous noise and banging coming through the radiators when the heat travels through the home. Additionally there is a central air system that has units missing/non working and we were promised by the landlord that they would fix it. We lived a whole summer without air conditioning.

Having written several letter to the landlord, I have received a letter from their attorney basically telling me the apartment was rented "as is" and that they don't have to do anything. My response is that the home is no longer in "good working condition" and I want to withhold the rent. They have threatened eviction. Now they will not supply heat to the kitchen or bathroom, I offered to have it done at a cost of $1500 and deduct from the rent and I was told I could not do that as it would be a breach of contact or something. Help. I'm cold. what recourse do I have? I have a two year lease, and am only in the 8th month....

stephanie on November 04, 2013:

Can I ask for a rent abatement for not having gas for a period of 7 months and not being provided with a hot plate. I live in an hdfc building and we are tenants. This issue happened from 9/11-3/12 and I withheld rent so im being sued in 11/13.

debbie on October 08, 2013:

I'm a tenant me and my husband and children rented through a broker a little bungalow three bedrooms with lease .I've been having issues with our landlord he doesn't like to fix things and because of the building he owns right in front of me there's roaches that took over I've paid out of pocket and bomb three times and just going through that with pets and babies is a job and the only day off for hubby is Sunday so that's been he'll there was mild downstairs in basement bedrooms and a heating problem he had to put a heating cistom in I've called 311 and he sent us a letter because he was mad we asked him to fix and replace tv because everything has got ruined because of roaches and I lost so much from the mild down stairs and he sent a letter of cure of the bedrooms downstairs so now I find out the bedrooms must be illegal bedrooms but he rented this to me like this on lease it was rented as three bedrooms and I went to court and they came out and he has over 10 violations and bedrooms we can't use and I fold more mild and they found lead I've been sick here what can I do I've been paying 1400 here we are alone and we live pay check to pay check I'm in ssi and my babies have been coughing for two months the doctors are taking blood test for mild and lead and I just found out I have three nodules on my left lung I don't smoke and he's threatened us I have it on tape and three police reports made please help

Judydel on September 19, 2013:

I should add that the apartment is located in Manhattan. I am also concerned about the wiring. It's obvious they retrofitted the apartment and I'm wondering if it was done to code. For instance, the gas stove has an outlet located right above it. The stove is actually plugged into this outlet located 6 - 8 inches directly above the stove . Also, you can't plug the refrigerator into an outlet directly. You have to use an extension cord.

The prior tenants left a futon in the apartment. When we moved my daughter in, my husband offered to remove the futon. The landlord said no because they wanted to call prior tenant about listing it on Craiglist. The next day the landlord asked that we list it on Craigslist and sell it for the prior tenant. We said absolutely no, and that the landlord should remove the futon ASAP. It has been two days and it has not been removed. How long is reasonable?

judydel on September 19, 2013:

My 18 year old daughter signed a lease on 9/17/13 for an apartment in an old brownstone style building. Upon lease signing we pointed out mold in a bathroom closet and shower. The land lord wrote in the lease that they would address the mold issue. We also pointed out that there were no smoke detectors and they again said they would take care of it. It has been two days, how quickly are they supposed to react to this?

We now realize that there is no ventilation in the bathroom. We thought the vent above the shower was a vent, but now realize it's a heating duct. I'm concerned that there may be mold growing in this duct since it is in a non ventilated bathroom. It is my understanding that a windowless bathroom need mechanical ventilation. Please advise.

Aj0817 on September 10, 2013:

My landlord is trying to make everyone move out her building and repair all her violations and she said we can come back after its all done being fix, but she is also not accepting rent from anyone and she doesn't have a court document saying we are allowed to come back after the construction is done. She has 26 violations in lead poisoning alone. And I know there's a total of 172 violations in her building. She has never did anything to fix the building except now that she has all these problems with the city. And she has lawsuits with some tenents in the building because a lot of small children live in it and they have skin problems due to lead poising. And she won't pay for anyone to move out during the time the construction is being done to live in another apartment. And she's lying to everyone in the building about what is going on. And today the contractor came because he thought the building was empty so he can fix it bc that's what he was told by the landlord. But he said he can not fix the building with people living in it and everyone has to move and she has to give us money to move until its done. And he said she told him that she was doing this already. But our landlord said she's not going to do that. So what are we suppose to do in this situation, there's a lot of families in this building and she can't just tell us to move out without giving us court documentation stating we are allowed to come back after the construction is done and I've lived in the building for over 15 years and she's trying to kick everyone out because she wants to fix it and this sell the building. She just can't kick everyone out when no one has a place to live. Is this against the law what she is doing.

sabox on September 07, 2013:

Hi Nick, I need your advice!

I have been in my apt for exactly two years today and for roughly the past 18 months I have had a serious mice problem in my apt. My first written communication to the landlord about the issue was in Dec 2011 where I complained that the exterminator they were using was only dropping a bag of poison behind the stove then leaving and that I was beginning to have a persistent problem. They continued using the same exterminator and the problem has gotten out of control. Mice have now chewed thru the dry way in two separate locations in my apt (behind the fridge and behind my couch). There are droppings literally everywhere in my apt (under my bed, in my closet, on my couch, in my shoes in my closet, on my bed, on the kitchen counter). I have had to throw away numerous sheets and comforters that I had stored in plastic storage bags under my bed because mice have chewed thru it and laid droppings all over my stuff. Just the other day I found mice droppings on my bed! I have over 40 pics from all over my apt of mice droppings as well as a dead mouse in the middle of my kitchen. I think this probably constitutes a severe rodent issue. My problem is that I just finished my masters program and only started working one month ago. I don't have money for 1st, last, security and broker fee which will be required to move. Legally what are my rights? What can I demand from the landlord and can I withhold rent to save to find a new place to live?

Thanks in advance for your help with this! This issue is really causing me a lot of grief.

Samantha on August 08, 2013:

My stove and refrigerator don't work! Does my landlord have to pay or do I?

evelyn de la cruz on August 06, 2013:

need help n advise,

on 5/29/13 my gas was shut down because the was a liking on the gas pipe. so all the H's line from my building was turn off as well. making simple I don't have gas for 2 months. I been buying food from out side. I call the land lord wht was happing. I been calling 311 and hpd have been caming every week. I called Edison but the respond was tht thy haven't received any document vertify tht the damge have been fix in order to turn it off. I been struggling buying for my partner, my child and my self. I don't kknw wht to next.

plez help

RG082 on June 13, 2013:

Hi Nick,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to people's questions here. Your knowledge is really helpful.

I live in a truly lovely apartment overall, but the problem is that there is constantly construction happening especially in the unit next door. On my down time (which is limited) my walls and floor shake from hammering, demolition, pounding, and drilling into walls that I share with the unit next door. I cannot rest, I get headaches and am exhausted. I am forced to leave my unit until evening even when I consistently pay my sizable rent on time. I've been denied a pause on construction during my vacation days at home so I can rest, and I've been denied a reasonable suggestion for rent abatement with a curt response from the management company.

In looking over the Warrant of Habitability, it says a breach could include "Excessive noise as from construction, mechanical equipment or even neighboring tenants” as outlined within New York State Real Property Law s. 235-b. I would like to fight this issue. Please let me know your thoughts.

Thank you, and wish you a good day.

Smiley12345 on June 03, 2013:

There are bedbugs in my building, known apartments infested and confirmed by pest control agency. Order to correct issue by fumigation, but no known plan has been communicated by landlord to tenants. 50 Tenants here, bed bugs are spreading to surrounding apartments. If we wanted to reduce our rent because the apartments are not habitat able, what would the computation be? If we were to pursue legally to regain some of our loses, is there a separate computation for that?

Max on June 01, 2013:

My lease does not say anything about air conditioning, but my apartment has central air. I'm several months behind on my rent and my landlord has started an eviction proceeding. We have not been on very good terms and now the landlord has turned off the air conditioning saying he has no obligation to provide it. Can anything be done?

Julia on May 18, 2013:

Hi Nicholas,

We live in a brown stone residential building where the first floor has been turned into a bar (entrance is separate from the rest of the building) and the 2nd floor has been rented out to a tattoo parlor (this entrance is shared with the residential tenants). There are two doors to enter the building- the outer one the Tattoo parlor has claimed they have rights to leave propped completely open from 9am until 11pm 7 days a week. In inner one is halfway up the stairs right at the entrace to the tattoo parlor and has been broken for over 5 months. All 3 tenants in the building have been begging the landlord to fix the door. We didn't withold rent or anything drastic because the tattoo parlor hadn't moved in and the exterior door was locked all the time. Now that they are here and we have 1 broken door and 1 propped door, all of us tenants are scared. The landlord still won't do anything. Even if they evenetually fix the middle door, does the tattoo parlor really have the right to leave the entry door to the building completely open until 11pm at night?

Richmond on April 22, 2013:

Our landlord didn't vent the gas dryer to the outside. We didn't notice for awhile. When we did noticed, we called in the gas company, who disconnected the dryer and informed us that there was a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide in the house, due the non-vented dryer and an unrelated leak in the stove. Two weeks later, and they still have not vented the dryer, though they have promised to do so imminently.

My question is - can we sue them for a retroactive rent reduction for the months in which we were breathing in carbon monoxide due to their carelessness?

Nazmul on March 20, 2013:

My apartment has nearly 30 HPD violations including mice. I can't sleep at night because of mice issue. I stopped paying rent. If the landlord takes me to court, will I be able to get rent abatement?

Davis on March 13, 2013:

Our new neighbor has received all new fixtures, carpeting and appliances that they renovated for 3 months. Our apartment has a broken garbage disposal(found by city inspector and our down stairs toilet does not work well also our carpet was dirty from past renters) this however is the least of our worries, we have a 3 month old baby and the new guy smokes like a chimney. The smell is causing not only me to cough but my son to cough and have a constant runny nose. We have complained several times about the smoke. (We share vents with this guy) so they gave us things to go over the vents. This has only made the problem worse. We're miserable in our own home and they refuse to fix them problem. What would be our next step?

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on February 27, 2013:

Please direct all inquiries to my office. 718-701-5772. I cannot answer everyone's questions here.

Only LL/T issues in NYC please.

Dennis on February 25, 2013:


I live in the 6 story building on a six floor and we have 2 elevators.

One of them is not working for 2 years and the second is stop working for about 2 month and still both of them no operable. Is this a breach of warranty of habitability?

Do we entitle for to a rent abatement? Can I stop paying rent and wait till they take to the court?

kim on February 19, 2013:

i currently reside in western ny and the main line backed up and went into my bathtub and toilet and after the landlord "fixed" it he is trying to charge me for the job? can he do that

selfkindness on February 19, 2013:

Nick, thank you in advance for your time.

If a tenants moves in to an apartment, upstate NY, under a lease agreement that the tenant will pay the utilities, but neglects to put the electric in his/her name, can the landlord, whose name the electric is in by default, turn off the elctric?

jp on January 24, 2013:

My apartment has some mold on parts of the walls and parts of the ceiling. Instead of talking to the landlord about it my roommate decides to just up and move out without any notice because the mold is a health hazard and it would get us out from the lease. She called the landlord and told her that we were moving out by Feb. 1 '13 and that she had already moved out because of the mold. I spoke with the landlord and she told me that we were supposed to give them the chance to fix the problem and in order for us to break the lease without penalty the apartment had to be tested positive for toxic mold and if we did leave we would have to pay the remaining 6months of rent so I stayed. My roommate says I should move out by feb. 1st anyway because her lawyer said we are definitely getting out of the lease without penalty. This is in upstate NY. I don't know if I should stay and find a new roommmate or just leave and hope shes right.

dawn on January 02, 2013:

ive been having a problem with my landlord making repairs. since i moved in with my family there has been exposed wires from a hole in a wall,uncovered outlets,doors falling apart...etc..he assured me that when my program pays him then he would have the money to start repairs. this was 5 months ago and we still havnt seen no repairs. ive called 311 and made complaints but they also have not helped and made a comment of "it being a waste of their time"....what can i do?

Alex on December 09, 2012:

I lived in Westchester County and moved to CA two months ago. My landlord allowed me 'in good faith' to break my lease so I could move before hurricane Sandy hit. However, he has refused to return my security deposit of $2000 (less any minor repairs such as paint and crayon marks by baby). His reason was due to the fact the apt key was lost (I left it in the mailbox) and not returned. Therefore, he has to put in a new lock warranting no return of the security deposit. This is not mentioned in our lease agreement. I also know that re-keying a lock doesn't cost over $1000. He said he would counter-sue if I took him to small claims. Reading under Real Property Law § 223-b, the landlord cannot retaliate for "(b) the tenant taking good faith actions to protect their rights under the lease". He cannot legally keep my deposit, correct? Although we agreed verbally that I could break my lease, can he retaliate using the original lease agreement to gain additional money? I see this as his only tactic.

I also don't believe the security deposit was ever put in an bank account because I never received a bank notification or letter stating this information, which would be another landlord violation for withholding this information, correct? There was also mold in the bathroom that may have caused of vertigo and nausea multiple times, suitable for law 235-b. The landlord never inspected or repaired the problem and unfortunately, I don't have pictures defeating additional ammunition I had for the landlord. I wouldn't be surprised if it's not repaired for the next tenant -- sorry that's another story...

I believe my landlord is taking advantage of the fact that I moved out of town and he is trying to keep the deposit. I left several messages for the Attorney General at the local courts but have yet to receive a response for assistance. Any suggestions Nick? Do I have a legitimate case? Any next steps I should take and what should I be aware of with the type tricks this landlord might pull in court? It sounds like he's been taken to court before. Will it be worth the cost? I plan on giving my mother 'Power of Attorney' to help resolve this matter.



Zach on December 07, 2012:

My girlfriend and I were displaced from our former apartment by flood waters from Sandy. We decided it was time to upgrade anyway and leased a house on higher ground. A week after moving in, the plumbing backed up while we were doing dishes and started leaking sewage from an open standpipe (where the landlord removed a washing machine) into the finished basement. I called the landlord's partner (landlord was out of state) and we had a plumber come and snake it out. The plumber recommended the septic tank be emptied which did in fact turn out to be full. After the tank was emptied, I let the landlord know there was still sewage contamination that needed to be addressed in the basement. A few days later it backed up again leaking into the basement and the plumber cleared it free of charge. It has been three weeks now, I've spoken to both landlords several times and they said they are working on it or pass the responsibility on to the other. Today I left the landlord a voicemail, sent a certified letter informing the landlord that if repairs are not made, I will break the lease, withhold rent, or repair and deduct. I also notified the health dept, who is sending an inspector. What else can we do? We are paying the rent. We just want this fixed! My girlfriend got sick after she pulled back the wet carpet not realizing what it was.



Tr778 on November 15, 2012:

Mr. Moccia,

Kudos to you for providing this advice. I'm hoping you might give me a bit of guidance...

I'm a 20+year tenant in a rent stabilized apt. in Manhattan. I've enjoyed a mostly good relationship w/ my landords. Lately they've taken to majorly renovating apartments as they become vacant -- presumably so that they can charge higher rents.

For the past couple of months they've been doing such to the apartment directly above me (albeit, in this particular case the apartment hasn't been vacated, they're creating one apartment out of two for the current tenant).

The noise has been incredible. Day in, Day out: power tools, demolition, debris falling down between the walls etc. etc.

Now I'm not an unreasonable person and I realize they have a right to perform alterations to their property as they see fit. I certaintly don't begrudge them that. They have permits posted and the construction begins at 8:30am and ends at 5pm. So all of that seems to be in order.

I realize that most people work from 9 to 5 and that if that were the case with me, I would miss out on the majority of the noise because it would occurr when I'm "away at work". Well I don't work 9 to 5 and I don't work "away". I'm a freelancer and work at home. Frequently I work late into the night/early morning -- which is probably irrelevant I know. What is relevant, I think, is that I'm finding it very difficult to get my work done ( or sleep, if I've opted to get my work done the night before). It is also SEVERLY impacting the "quiet enjoyment of my leased space".

I've talked to friends and another neighbor in the bldg. who is directly adjacent to the construction and is also a home-worker, and they basically say I'm screwed and that I should just grit my teeth and bear it.

Indeed a reading of what little is available at the 311 site seems to confirm this. However I also found another document on the NYC.gov site which seems to say some things that might be relavent to my situation. Unfortunately no one at 311 or B.E.S.T can seem to give me any clarification as to some of the statements therein. I'm hoping you might be able to offer a bit of guidance.

The document is titled:


and is available at:


Among the interesting things it says:


(f) Interior construction activities within a structure, after window placement, in non-vacant buildings, are classified as creating a minimal noise impact so long as the following conditions are met:

(snipped items 1 and 2)

3. Such work entails only non-structural and non-demolition construction activities as those activities are defined by applicable authorizing agencies; and

4. Such activities take place where the floors directly below and above the floor are unoccupied; and

5. Notice has been given, to the maximum extent possible, to all residents regarding the time, place and nature of the construction activities.


I have tried to get someone at 311 to clarify the statements on this document but they just keep referring me to the website about permissible work days/times. I finally got a referral to BEST which I called and finally got tired of being transferred from one number to the next (with quite a few disconnections in between, of course).

Finally I decided to try the city council website and was able to come up with this about the document:


More legalese that I can't interpret....

I'm sorry for the length and depth of this question, and I seriously don't want to put you out, but I would be very grateful if you could give me your take on all this.

I'm really at wit's end and I don't know how much longer I can put up with this. It sounds like they're about to tear the whole damn bldg. down at times.

I'm about to approach my landlord to see if he's willing to compensate me in some way for what I'm having to endure. Before I do that, however, I'd like to know exactly (or as near to) what I'm up against. Based on past performance, if they perceive that they're within their rights, it really makes no difference what the tenants have to say. So any little bit of leverage I can get would be very helpful.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.



I also found this:


It's a .pdf noise mitigation plan form that indicates that it must be posted at the job site. I've been unable to locate anthing like this posted.

meleigh on November 13, 2012:


The apartment right below us is empty and being renovated. Today landlord had the floors varnished but they taped up the seams of the doors to that apt and closed all the windows so there is no ventilation. The smell from the chemicals are rising into our apt. The super cant go in there bc he doesn't want to ruin the floors and get in trouble with management. We've called the management company several times and not heard back.. We have all our windows open but can still smell the varnish. Is there anything we can do for the lack of communication to us that they were going to do this and us having to inhale this air all night and god knows for how many days after?

Thank you

Tom on November 08, 2012:

I rent an apartment in Brooklyn. Sandy flooded the basement and destroyed the utility room. Our apartment is on the 8th floor and was unaffected but we consider it to be unhabitable. There is heat, hot water and limited electricity. However, full power will not be restored for 6+ weeks. My landlord already gave me a rent abatement of 1 week for the days after the story, but I think I'm entitled to more. What do you think?

Tom Lee on November 07, 2012:

I have some issues with my building. I reported it to super within two months of moving in. Instead of fixing the issue, the super used duck tape and plastic to try and mask the problem. The windows in my apartment cannot close and in the winter time, the apartment gets extremely cold despite the heat. I reported it to 311 and nothing was done. Most nights I have to call the super to turn the heat up and sometimes he does not do it. I also have issues rats. These kind of condition are not good for my health. I have a health problem and when I stay in the cold too long, I feel severe pain. The super and I do not have a good relationship. He called me a faggot on several occasion and now I fear for my safety. Do I have any grounds to break my lease?

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on October 13, 2012:

If I were you, I would find a new apartment.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on October 13, 2012:

@ June Bug -- contact HPD for an inspection.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on October 13, 2012:

@cm call HPD, I would not withhold rent at this point.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on October 13, 2012:

@Niki--I would call HPD.

Niki on October 07, 2012:

My landlord's sister had someone take out and replace the walls,ceiling and floor on the first floor in the common hallway that leads to the front door and there is still a lot of dust,debris and inconvenience when coming and going outside because of debris , ladder ,garbage can and drills that are blocking the entrance and hallway and I don't think that me and my kids should have to inhale all that dust while coming and going and there also should not be dust inside my doorway and staircase that goes to our second floor.Who knows what's in that plaster ? My landlord and her sister can't take anything threatening but they always threaten me so you can see what kind of people they are.Maybe a call to hpd will clear the situation for me ?What do you think ?

cm on October 02, 2012:

Hi Nick. My landlord has been doing renovations on the apartment above us, and debris has been falling through the floor and into our apartmemnt through holes around the boiler pipe. I was worried about asbestos, so I got it tested, and the sample I sent did contain small (less than 1%) amounts of asbestos. What should we do? Can we withhold rent until we get a licensed abatement person to come clean our apartment?

June Bug on October 01, 2012:

Question, my husband and I just moved in with my mother-in-law into her rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn. She's had this apartment for over 55 years. My husband and his sisters were actually born and raised in this apartment. My mother in law has been living in pretty bad conditions without saying anything because there has been issues of the LL harassing her and accosting her and my sister in law in the past. They have been to court bc he locked them out once and even removed the toilet.

Anyway, my mother in law is afraid of the guy. There is hardly any electricity in the apartment and I was reading something saying tenants have a right to sufficient electricity? I also saw there should be 1 light fixture and 2 outlets per room?

There is original cloth wiring which we were told was a fire hazard, and there are only 2 outlets in the entire apartment. There are extension cords running all throughout the apartment to deliver lighting through lamps to the other rooms.

There is no electricity or lighting in the bathroom whatsoever, no light in the middle bedroom, and the light fixture in the back bedroom is sparking, and there is no light connected to it.

There are extension cords running to the refridgerator.

Are we able to ask for sufficient electricity?

FrustatedTenant on September 25, 2012:

Heat and hot water are included in the rent.

I am a month-to-month tenant.

Do not reside in NYC - rather central NY.

My apartment is over a restaurant (noise, odors, lack of parking) - and this is why the rent is below market value.

What I did not know until after moving is that the windows do not permit for ventilation and the restaurant vents blow right into my windows (heat and odors). Due to the tiny windows and lack of ventilation, my electric bills are more than the rent (averaged, year round) and in the summer, I can only get the heat down to approximately 90. The landlord keeps stating the roof vent helps (no, the roof vent blows down more hot air in the summer, and ice cold air in the winter ...along with odors.

PROBLEM: This month, the hot water has been turned off twice - once all day (I missed work, was unable to shower), the second time, it has been off since 3 p.m. and will obviously be off all night and I'll be late for work unless I get up at 4 a.m. to boil water to try a sponge bath. I usually get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for work.

Is the landlord's turning off the hot water twice in one month, okay? I only read "extended period of time."

I am really not sure what to do other than try to save up enough $ to move (something I have been trying to do) - but if I miss work, I am not paid. Showing up for work not showered is not acceptable in my line of work.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on September 24, 2012:

@adams -- 1. call HPD (assuming you live in NYC) and make a complaint; 2. send a complaint to your landlord in writing; 3. consider starting an HP action against your landlord.

adams on September 24, 2012:

we have no lease i looked at the apt. he said rent and then i moved in nothing written or signed .

adams on September 24, 2012:

i have lived in my apt. for one year two months ago someone new moved in a couple weeks later moved out and left everything last month noticed roaches and told the landlord a month ago and he laugh and said ive never had roaches in my apts he has done nothing i call him everyday and leave a message and nothing what should i do?

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on September 23, 2012:

Thank you for the acknowledgement. It's my pleasure to do this.

KudosNM on September 22, 2012:

Hi Nicholas,

No question, just wanted to say that the work you are doing in answering these questions is absolutely amazing. I stumbled across it some months back and have been reading ever since and I've learned so much and am in awe of your ability to handle your workload while finding time to help so many. I'm sure everyone who has posted (and who will) would join me in saying THANK YOU so much for doing this.

Best of health to you!

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on August 16, 2012:


Kew, I would report your landlord to the Dept of Buildings or HPD (or the equivalent agency where you live). If there is a lead paint concern, you should be relocated.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on August 16, 2012:

John P.: your landlord is responsible for cleaning the crawl space. If you are in NYC you can report him to the Department of Health or HPD.

kew on August 16, 2012:

Hi. I am pregnant and due next April. My apartment has paint peeling from the ceilings that chips onto the floor. The landlord put up tarps but chips fall from the parts of the ceiling that are not covered. The lease ends next September. Can we break the lease and move before April? Thank you.

John P. on August 10, 2012:

To be more specific...the crawl space runs the length of our apartment and there is a large door that easily opens into our apartment. We didn't realize until we'd already moved in.

John P. on August 10, 2012:

The crawl space is up in the roof. We are on the second floor and the roof basically cuts into the dimensions of our walls. There is a big door right next to our fridge/kitchen that opens up from the floor to about chest high. It runs from one side of the house to the other...that's why the cable guy was in there to run the wires. He showed me a big pile of dung and it smells of cat pee.

Thanks for responding...much appreciated sir.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on August 10, 2012:

Where is the crawl space?

John P. on August 10, 2012:


Just moved into an apartment in Suffolk County and when the cable guy got into the crawl space -- he found piles of tiles AND piles of cat poop (and the harsh smell of dried cat pee). I'm allergic to cats - which makes this even worse. Is this a violation? Does the LL have to pay for professionals to clean the crawl space?

KB on July 26, 2012:

I also wanted to add that I have photos of the flood (not all of the water because I came a few hours after it flooded due to work), damage, humidity monitor readings, etc.

KB on July 26, 2012:

I live in a 4 bedroom duplex, with one floor completely below grade. (ground & basement level - 2 bedrooms on each floor). 8 days ago the basement level flooded due to a clogged drain outside of my bedroom (basement) window. This window opens into a shaft and is about one foot above the bottom of the shaft. The water came through the wall and flooded the whole basement with approximately 4 inches of water & common hall. The mgmt. company has admitted via email that it was due to drain blockage (leaves) that they did not clean. Apparently this happened before on a minor level before I moved in & they did not replace the wall, nor clear the drain.

Their maintenance crew cleaned out some water that evening, leaving us with an inch of water to clean ourselves & never sent a professional cleaning crew. It took us days to clean between the water, dirt & dust. The wall was soaked through, parts of it coming off and moving throughout the basement. They replaced the wall about 22 hours later, but just the wet part and sealed it immediately. There is a lack of ventilation on the floor – my window into the shaft is the only window on the floor (the other bedroom is windowless).

I now have asthma complications due to lack of ventilation & am concerned about mold growing in the wall over time. (I found some growing on a dry item of mine.) I went to the doctor & received medicine & he suggested that I do not stay at the apartment. Only now are they discussing sending a mold specialist & we still see dust between the floorboards that we do not know how to clean.

My roommate on my floor and I do not want to pay rent because of the lack of proper care/clean-up (which is still happening) as well as my health concerns/asthma problems.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on July 20, 2012:

Toya, your landlord is not legally required to provide you an air-conditioning unless your lease provides for it. Your landlord is required to provide adequate ventilation for your space.

Maura on June 26, 2012:

5 bedroom house with all girls. Rented the house on may 1st and when we showed up t did not have heat for 10 days and hot wAter for 20 days. When complained to landlord everyday thy said they'll to the problem. It was not until the county inspector came over that we finally got hot water. Refused to pay for June's rent and have landlord 30 notice that we would be out by July 1st. Even thought she said she would let us out of our lease she know denies it and we are moving in a couple of days. She wants to sue us for the remainder of the lease agreement ( one year). Is this breach of habatality? We have more stuff wrong but that was he main for moving and the landlord never answers our calls or doesn't call us back

Toya Montana from Brooklyn, New York on June 22, 2012:

I rent a room and have put an ac unit in the window where my landlord charges me extra money monthly, however, there is no air throughout the rest of the house, the heat is unbearable, it is hard to breathe and is also causing me to run the ac in my room longer than usual because if I open my door for even a millisecond to say, go to the bathroom, my room is flooded with the outside heat immediately. Is it legal for her to provide no air in the rest of the house at all?

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on June 19, 2012:

I will not be able to answer questions this week. Too much going on. My apologies.

Eric on June 18, 2012:


I sublet. meaning I'm a month to month tenant. my building has noisy construction across the street, rats and mice in the foyer, hallways and in our apartment, there is no buzzer on the front door, there's a swarm of flies at the foyer, and our mailbox decided to break, leaving us without mail service. I have brought all these issues up to my landlord (the lease holder - who I pay rent to) and he has done nothing. I've been here a year and a half, and things have been falling apart and got progressively worse. what are my options besides moving? is there a breach of habitibility?

Jordan on June 18, 2012:

Hey Nick,

The following issue is a sensitive one: it is clear our neighbor suffers from an incontinence issue. The entire hallway smells of urine and feces. This odor permeates into our apartment and has forced us to keep sprays and deodorizers at our front door to counter the stench. We are forced to sit as far away as possible from our front door making it very difficult to live comfortably in our own home or to even have guests over. We didn't want to raise the issue with management out of respect for our neighbor, but the building has decided to raise our rent and now we feel as if we have no choice but to raise the issue. Would this fall under warranty of habitability?

Nick Pet on June 17, 2012:

My landlord just posted a sign in the lobby saying that in 2 days the elevator will be out of service for about 6 weeks for "needed upgrades". These are not upgrades, but rather repairs, as it randomly skips levels, or doesn't work at all at random times. This comes after 4 weeks of no gas service due to a leak and insufficient repairs, but they did pay for an electric stovetop at least, after the 1st week.

My question is, can I deduct rent for the elevator expected to be out of service for so long, and is it a breach from their side?

Our live-in super is totally useless, that everything is starting to look run down, and I feel many things that would be cheap and fast to repair will now be taking longer to fix. Aside from the gas and elevator, the main entrance lock has been broken for over 3 months with no sign of repair, which is totally unsafe. Some hallway walls had water damage and after repair have been sitting unpainted for over 2 months now and looks like a ghetto. And all this despite repeated reminders, and despite this loser super living here himself.

Even if the elevator issue is not a breach, since we dont have a proper staircase, just the emergency stairwell, and since it is summer and its a closed-off stairwell, it gets very hot, and often is very disgusting and stinky, so the very least I will demand is to install good temporary ventilation with strong fans and ensure someone cleans it regularly. But Id rather be able to also deduct rent, or if worse comes to worst, be able to break my lease given how this place is slowly looking like a dump. I have 8 more months on my lease.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on June 14, 2012:

I believe you need to have a buzzer under the rent stabilization code. Fix the buzzer. Don't be cheap. ;)

claudia lum on June 13, 2012:

My father in law owns a 6 family rent stabilized building in queens . I recently got a violation to fix the door bell buzzer. Can we just remove the whole buzzer system and keep it off since the thing has not worked in years.

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on June 11, 2012:

Magnum--He definitely cannot do this. He is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and probably other laws as well.

liza on June 07, 2012:

I live as a rent stablized tenant in a building that is part condo. Tenant above me is doing extensive construction with jack hammers and drills. Its so loud you cant hear conversation.

Do I have any recourse due to a breach of the warranty of habitibility?

Nicholas Moccia (author) from Staten Island, NY on June 06, 2012:

does your lease entitle to you the use of the outdoor space? if not, then you have to remove the toys. Moreover, if someone gets injured on the toys, you will be liable for the injury, not your landlord, since your landlord put you on notice to remove them.

kristina m. on June 06, 2012:

my landlord sent a letter telling me that i have to remove all of my childrens outdoor toys and if they where not removed that my landlord would dispose of the stuff her self can she do this? my stuff was not in anyones way and it was not a dangerous situation. when i talked to her about it she said having the childrens toys outside made the place not look nice.

Jules on June 01, 2012:

Hi Nicholas,

I have been living in my apartment for almost 2 years now and do not want to move. But...8 months ago I was sick in bed with an unusual flu and discovered while bed riden- the bedroom fireplace was covered in mold from a leak we had already informed our landlord about (which they did not fix).

I contacted the landlord and they took almost 2 months to address it. I finally threatened to withhold rent and they came to "fix" it within a week. However, they did not fix the problem. They ignored what I told them (and repeated many times) about the leak, and told me, what was so clearly mold, was not. They loosely scraped the surface and painted over it.

I have since been sick with severe respiratory problems and daily nausea. I ended up in the hospital with what I thought was the stomach flu (never had to go to the hospital for a flu before) and now have a $13k bill.

I have contacted the NYHD and NYHD many times only to be told there have to be obvious visual external signs. Finally last week the orange stains from the leak and the orange pussy mold has begun to show it's signs. This time I snapped photos of both, filed with the NYHD etc. The NYHD inspected it yesterday and confirmed there is a serious mold problem.

2 questions: 1. I am afraid the next step is for my landlord to fix it- not the city or someone I hire (I can't afford to) and if they fix it, I'm afraid they will just cover it up again instead of truly opening the wall, clearing the mold, and stopping the leak permanantly- how do I ensure it is properly dealt with? 2. I have huge medical bills and have lost weeks of work due to being so sick every single day for the last 8 months. What is my landlord liable for in terms of health issues?

thank you!

Related Articles