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

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Q: I stay in a rent-stabilized condominium in a medium-size, prewar constructing in Brooklyn. A few months in the past, the ceiling in my bathe began leaking. Then, a piece of the ceiling above the leak collapsed. The tremendous coated the outlet with cardboard however by no means truly mounted the leak or ceiling. I’ve referred to as quite a few occasions, and he all the time says “tomorrow” however by no means fixes it. I’ve additionally referred to as administration twice and despatched photos. The wall appears to be turning into moldy. The cardboard is beginning to crumble. What ought to I do?

A: There’s quite a bit you are able to do. Begin by calling 311 to request an inspection from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. An inspector would most certainly concern a violation, which can not remedy your drawback instantly however would create a paper path of proof.

“Typically, getting violations positioned doesn’t do a lot,” mentioned Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants. “Landlords will hardly ever reply.”

On the identical time, file what is called an HP proceeding in housing courtroom. It’s principally a lawsuit filed in opposition to the owner, whereby you ask the courtroom to order the repairs. “That is the quickest option to get it carried out,” Mr. Himmelstein mentioned. These circumstances have a tendency to maneuver rapidly, and the owner often settles and agrees to the repairs.


This course of ought to actually get your ceiling mounted. Resolving the mildew is likely to be extra sophisticated. Mildew remediation just isn’t low-cost and may typically be intensive. You would want to show that you’ve mildew, and your images alone is not going to be sufficient. You’ll even have to rent your individual skilled to find out the extent of the issue and make suggestions for remediation, Mr. Himmelstein mentioned. Mildew can pose critical well being risks, so, if you’re involved about it, you may wish to take this further step.

You must also be entitled to a hire abatement for this time period. Begin by asking the owner for one. In case your request is rebuffed — because it most likely will probably be — you may withhold hire solely. If the owner took you to housing courtroom for nonpayment, your protection can be that the situations violated your warranty of habitability, a state rule. You’ll in the end must pay again among the hire for that time period, however not all of it.

Nonetheless, as soon as your ceiling is repaired, you may determine that the hire abatement just isn’t definitely worth the headache of one other day in courtroom.

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