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No heat and trying to withold rent!!

Posted by RyanW on November 08, 2001 at 19:24:47:

I just recently found out about heat law in NYC and realized my landlord was in violation for the past month and a half. Because of those violations I collected climatological information for the past month (avg. temp for every day of Oct and first week of Nov.) and told him that I would be withholding rent for everyday it was below 55 degrees since we had no heat. I told him that I realized that it was a warm October but he told me I was being unreasonable. Our discussion went pretty much nowhere and so I told him that I would be withholding the amount of rent next month that was equal to the percentage of days he was in violation.

The landlord then told me that if I did that he would require me to disassemble the loft I built for my bed and repaint the wall I painted. I fully intend to do that at the end of my lease which isn't until August 2002, but I don't think he can force me to do those things while I'm maintaining my lease. Can he?

He also told me that my complaint only applied to me and that I was being the difficult roommate since I was the only one complaining from the building. He told me I could only withhold my portion of the rent and that each of my roommates would have to talk with him separately. Now he's trying to turn them against me by trying to get me to exit on the lease.

My roommates are pretty apathetic about the situation and don't want to fight it but as far as I can tell we are right in our complaint. I've filed daily complaints with the housing authority and the landlord is trying to get a boiler installed by the end of the week. Am I justified in withholding rent in my December check even if the violation occured in October? Do I stand a chance if I have to go to housing court? Can he withhold the amount I'm withholding from our security deposit in the future? Sorry this is so long but I'm at my wits end.


-One more thing, we spent all last year occupying another of his apartments without receiving any gas or electric bills because he didn't have an individual meter for our apartment. Now he's threatening to charge us for those back bills even though he has no proof as to how much electric and gas we used. I don't want to go to housing court, but I feel like there's too many little things in play here. Please help!

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