Tenants in New York have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord, and allow a reasonable time (usually under 30 days) for the repairs to be made.
New York Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs
New York landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:
Heating (in winter).
Hot and cold water.
Garbage containers and removal.
Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability.
What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in New York?
New York tenants are liable forany damage they cause to the propertywhich affects health and safety. This usually means the landlord is legally responsible to make required repairs, but can bill the tenant for the cost.
Requesting Repairs in New York
New York tenants can request repairsverbally or in writing,although written notice is always preferable so that the timing and nature of the request can be proven easily if there’s a dispute about the details.
How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in New York?
New York landlords get a“reasonable” timeafter notice to make repairs. Emergencies must be fixed immediately. For non-emergencies, in many cases, repairs must be completed within 30 days. Merely beginning repairs in good faith isn’t enough. To stop breaching the warranty of habitability, the landlord must finish repairs.
Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in New York?
New York landlordscannot refuse to make repairsthat are their responsibility, including situations where the tenant is behind on rent. Even when damage turns out to be the tenant’s fault, the landlord must do repairs and bill the tenant for the cost, rather than refusing to repair altogether.
Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in New York?
New York landlordsneedn’t pay for alternative accommodationduring repairs. However, if the landlord makes the tenant move out temporarily for repairs, the tenant may reduce rent payments or even break the lease in severe cases.
Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in New York
New York tenants cansue for damagesorget an injunctionto force repairs, when the landlord doesn’t fix issues in a timely way. They can also sometimeswithhold rent,orrepair and deduct.In severe cases, the tenant might be allowed tobreak the lease.
Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in New York?
New York tenantscan withhold rent,proportionate to how much the landlord’s violation affects the ordinary use of the property. While tenants can withhold unilaterally, it’s risky to withhold without court authorization since failure to pay rent is the most powerful basis a landlord can use for eviction.
Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in New York?
New York tenantscan repair and deduct.However, the landlord can evict for nonpayment of rent unless the following requirements are met:
The issue with the property involves basic habitability.
The landlord has refused repairs, or failed to do repairs after reasonable opportunity.
The cost deducted is the reasonable and actual cost of the necessary repairs.
Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in New York?
New York tenantsusually can’t break their leases.They can break a lease by moving out after severe damage to the property that wasn’t their fault, if there isn’t a written agreement otherwise. Tenants can also break a lease when there’s deliberate interference with utilities or quiet enjoyment of property.
Can the Tenant Sue in New York?
New York tenantscan sue to force repairs,recover monetary damages, reduce the rent, or (in some special situations) cancel the lease.
Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in New York?
New York tenantscan report landlords for code violationsthat affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could sue, or withhold part of the rent.
Is It Illegal for a Landlord To Retaliate in New York?
It’s illegal for New York landlords to retaliate byrefusing to renew the leaseor bysubstantially changing the lease terms(includingrent increases) against a tenant who has, in good faith, taken one of the following actions within the last year:
Reports health and safety violations to the landlord or government.
Participates in a tenant organization.
Pursues rights under the law or rental agreement.
There’s an exception when the landlord establishes a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent in a proportionate and legal way as a response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
“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.”
“Every multiple dwelling, including its roof or roofs, and every part thereof and the lot upon which it is situated, shall be kept in good repair. The owner shall be responsible for compliance with the provisions of this section; but the tenant also shall be liable if a violation is caused by his own willful act, assistance or negligence or that of any member of his family or household or his guest.”
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 tenant 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.”
“[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.”
“The determination of the amount of rent abatement to be granted as a result of the breach is not susceptible to precise determination. Taken into consideration is the severity and length of the conditions, and the steps taken by the landlord, if any, to abate those conditions.”
“Where any building, which is leased or occupied, is destroyed or so injured by the elements, or any other cause as to be untenantable, and unfit for occupancy, and no express agreement to the contrary has been made in writing, the lessee or occupant may, if the destruction or injury occurred without his or her fault or neglect, quit and surrender possession of the leasehold premises, and of the land so leased or occupied; and he or she is not liable to pay to the lessor or owner, rent for the time subsequent to the surrender. Any rent paid in advance or which may have accrued by the terms of a lease or any other hiring shall be adjusted to the date of such surrender.”
“In order for a tenant to recover in these repair and deduct situations, it is apparent that the tenant must give notice to the landlord, and that the condition or violation complained of must be substantial in that it affects the habitability of the premises and that the landlord has either refused or has not repaired in reasonable time after reasonable opportunity to repair has been given to the landlord. A tenant making the repairs under these circumstances will be allowed to set off or deduct from the rent provided that the cost is reasonable and not excessive.”
If the tenant moves out after an uncured violation of quiet enjoyment, this is a constructive eviction and the lease is considered validly broken. “[A]ny lessor, agent, manager, superintendent or janitor who wilfully and intentionally interferes with the quiet enjoyment of the leased premises by such occupant, is guilty of a violation.”
“While a tenant may be entitled to a rent abatement if the landlord breaches the warranty of habitability … courts have emphatically stated that consequential damages, such as property damages, cannot be recovered for such a 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.”
“No landlord of premises or units to which this section is applicable shall serve a notice to quit… [for] good faith complaint… [regarding] alleged violation of any health or safety law, regulation, code, or ordinance, the warranty of habitability… duty to repair… or which pertains to the offense of rent gouging… [or for] Actions taken in good faith, by or in behalf of the tenant, to secure or enforce any rights… [or for] The tenant’s participation in the activities of a tenant’s organization.”
“In an action or proceeding instituted against a tenant of premises or a unit to which this section is applicable, a rebuttable presumption that the landlord is acting in retaliation shall be created if the tenant establishes that the landlord served a notice to quit, or instituted an action or proceeding to recover possession, or attempted to substantially alter the terms of the tenancy, within one year after … Judgment under subdivision three or four of this section was entered for the tenant in a previous action between the parties; or an inspection was made, an order was entered, or other action was taken as a result of a complaint or act described in paragraph a or b of this subdivision. The effect of the presumption shall be to require the landlord to establish a non-retaliatory motive for his acts by a preponderance of the evidence.”
“No landlord of premises or units to which this section is applicable or such landlord’s agent shall substantially alter the terms of the tenancy in retaliation for any actions set forth in paragraphs a, b, and c of subdivision one of this section [complaints, pursuing rights, or participating in a tenant organization]. Substantial alteration shall include, but is not limited to, the refusal to continue a tenancy of the tenant, upon expiration of the tenant’s lease, to renew the lease or offer a new lease, or offering a new lease with an unreasonable rent increase; provided, however, that a landlord shall not be required under this section to offer a new lease or a lease renewal for a term greater than one year.”