How to Report a Landlord in New York for Unsafe Living Conditions
June 6, 2023
If a rental property in New York fails to meet legally required health and safety standards, tenants have the right to report their landlord to local public officials who may choose to follow up, inspect the property and cite the landlord for such violations.
What Are Considered Unsafe Living Conditions in New York?
In New York, living conditions are unsafe when there are anysubstantial threats to health and safetyon the property. In particular, rental properties must have safe and working:
What Should Tenants Do Before Reporting a Violation in New York?
In most cases, before reporting a violation, a tenant in New York must notify the landlord in writing about the issue and ask him to fix it within a reasonable time. If there isn’t a reason for a particular timeline, 30 days will be reasonable for most non-emergency situations.
After receiving a complaint, an inspecting officer might contact the tenant for more information. Then the officer will usually inspect the property and cite the landlord for any code violations.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in New York City?
A tenant in New York City can report a health or safety violation by calling (212) 639-9675 or using theonline formprovided by NYC 311. Select a complaint type (many will be under “Apartment Maintenance Violation”), then enter location, select complaint details and submit personal information.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Hempstead Town?
A tenant in Hempstead Town can report a health or safety violation by calling (516) 538-8500 or by using the town’s helplineonline form. Enter contact information and topic (address to the attention of the Building Department), then describe the issue, attach supporting documentation, and submit.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Brookhaven?
A tenant in Brookhaven can report a health or safety violation by calling the Resident Contact Center at (631) 451-8696. Be prepared to provide contact information as well as a description and location of the issue in question.
What Could Happen to a Landlord After a Complaint Is Made in New York?
After a tenant complains about property conditions in New York, an officer may inspect for violations. If cited violations aren’t repaired, the landlord could be fined and the local government might condemn the property. Substantial code violations also provide evidence that the landlord is breaching the warranty of habitability.
“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.”
“Courts have found breaches of the warranty of habitibility [sic] in a variety of situations including: lack of heat and/or hot water; lack of an air conditioner in summer; low water pressure; water damage from roof leaks; nearby construction and renovation work; lack of light and air from new building next door; presence of rats and roaches; bedbug infestation; persistent pet odors from prior tenants; second hand smoke from a neighbor; odor from a dumpster; neighbor noise; a registered sex offender neighbor; and neighborhood drug dealers.”
“[E]very multiple dwelling shall be provided with heat or the equipment or facilities therefor. During the months between October first and May thirty-first, such heat and the equipment or facilities shall be sufficient to maintain the minimum temperatures required.”
“The owner of every multiple dwelling or part thereof shall thoroughly cleanse and keep clean at all times, and in good repair, the entire plumbing and drainage system including every water-closet, toilet and sink and every other plumbing fixture therein.”
“The owner shall keep all and every part of a multiple dwelling, the lot on which it is situated, and the roofs, yards, courts, passages, areas or alleys appurtenant thereto, clean and free from vermin, dirt, filth, garbage or other thing or matter dangerous to life or health.”
“The owner of every multiple dwelling shall provide proper and suitable conveniences or receptacles for ashes, rubbish, garbage, refuse and other waste matter and shall arrange for the removal of such waste matter daily.”
Where the tenant is breaching the lease, the current statutory time to cure is 30 days after notice. While there’s no specific statutory requirement for landlord breaches, many courts will look to the statute for guidance on what’s reasonable. “In the event that such proceeding [for possession] is based upon a claim that the tenant or lessee has breached a provision of the lease, the court shall grant a thirty day stay of issuance of the warrant, during which time the respondent may correct such breach.”
“Naturally, it is a patent impossibility to attempt to document every instance in which the warranty of habitability could be breached. Each case must, of course, turn on its own peculiar facts. However, the standards of habitability set forth in local housing codes will often be of help in resolution of this question. Substantial violation of a housing, building or sanitation code provides a bright-line standard capable of uniform application and, accordingly, constitutes prima facie evidence that the premises are not in habitable condition.”