New York Renter’s Rights for Repairs

New York Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: June 6, 2023

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:

  • Plumbing.
  • Heating (in winter).
  • Hot and cold water.
  • Garbage containers and removal.
  • Common areas.
  • Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in New York?

New York tenants are liable for any damage they cause to the property which 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 repairs verbally 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” time after 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 landlords cannot refuse to make repairs that 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 landlords needn’t pay for alternative accommodation during 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 can sue for damages or get an injunction to force repairs, when the landlord doesn’t fix issues in a timely way. They can also sometimes withhold rent, or repair and deduct. In severe cases, the tenant might be allowed to break the lease.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in New York?

New York tenants can 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 tenants can 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 tenants usually 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 tenants can 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 tenants can report landlords for code violations that 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.

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Is It Illegal for a Landlord To Retaliate in New York?

It’s illegal for New York landlords to retaliate by refusing to renew the lease or by substantially changing the lease terms (including rent 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.

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