Posted by EGH on June 09, 2000 at 14:54:53:
In Reply to: Re: rent reduction and repairs posted by What law? on June 08, 2000 at 20:24:34:
: : My apartment was damaged by an upstairs leak in my apartment building three months ago. The landlord repaired the damage but did not reduce my rent before the damage was repaired, as the law requires. Am I entitled to subtract part of this month's rent to make up for the time I was living in a damaged apartment? If so, how do I figure out how much to subtract?
: : I am a rent-stabilized tenant in Manhattan.
: If you can find a law that requires landlords to reduce our rents for un-repaired things like this, please post it: one million apartments would like to know about it.
: You have 3 choices: negotiate with the guy, good luck.
: Withhold rent (not legal but traditionally acceptable) and face an eviction lawsuit: very risky business these days.
: File with DHCR for a reduction of services rent reduction: unless something else is wrong, you've lost this one too because the repair is done already.
It is not illegal to withhold rent if the landlord has violated the warranty of habitability in an apartment. There is nothing particulary risky about this if you do not spend the rent money; the worst thing that can happen to you if the landlord sues you for non-payment and you go to court is that the judge will not believe that your case merits a rent abatement and orders you to pay the rent you are holding. The law does not *require* that you receive an abatement for damage. In a case where your apartment was damaged and a landlord made necessary repairs within a reasonable period of time, I would expect a minimal abatement (if any) from a court case. If you want an abatement, you should have written records about when the damaged happened and when it was repaired. Photographs of the damage would be good to have. Write the landlord a letter by certified mail requesting an abatement because of the damage. There are no general guidelines about how much to ask for; an abatement is calculated as a reduction in the value of your apartment in terms of your monthly rent. If you do not receive an adequate response from the owner, inform him that you are withholding rent to recover an abatement for the damage, and sit back and wait to be sued. If the landlord sues you, answer the papers and go to court. As I said though, don't expect great results in court if the landlord made the repairs.
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