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Landlord must repair

Posted by DK on September 20, 1999 at 13:50:52:

In Reply to: Fixing walls that are damaged from outside weather posted by mk on September 17, 1999 at 15:26:46:

: I have a question, perhaps someone can help me:

: I live in an apartment on the top floor. This building has 5 other units
: besides mine, one which belongs to the landlord (who resides on the premises.)
: In my apartment I am experiencing some damage to certain areas of my
: apartment (i.e., dinnette, bedroom, living room) whereby when it rains
: or snows from water damage the walls start to bubble and when you touch it
: it feels like a powder. My landlord has not fixed this and I need to know
: what my legal rights are and who to contact regarding this.

You e-mailed me the following after my last message: -- this is a private landlord. He is an old man who
owns the building. This is a brick building with 2 entrances in the front.
He has one tenant per floor. He has 5 families that he rents to. He is the
6th tenant who lives on the premises. I don't know what my legal rights are
in so far as private landlord/tenant.

Please advise.

Because there are more than three units, the Multiple Dwelling Law applies. The landlord must keep the building in good repair, and the landlord may not breach the warranty of habitability.
So, you have the options of (1) going to Housing Court yourself to obtain a repair order; (2) start withholding your rent to force your landlord to bring an eviction proceeding against you for non-payment of the rent, then tell the judge your holding your rent in order to get necessary repairs done; (3) file an application with DHCR to obtain a rent reduction because of the landlord's failure to provide essential services; (4) make a complaint to the Department of Housing Preservation and Delvelopment, pray that they will eventually send an inspector, and pray that the landlord will care if HPD should issue a violation.
The option that takes the least amount of time is #3, filing a complaint with DHCR. Telephone or go to your borough office to get the two-sided single page form, fill it out, and about six to nine months later DHCR will issue an order. Option #1, is the fastest and surest, but will consume the most of your time--1/2 a day to get the papers filed in court, another half or whole day at home waiting for an inspector, and at least a half-day in court to get your repair order.

If your time is really precious, hire a lawyer who is in housing court on a daily basis to do these steps for you. If your lease has a legal fees clause, you may even be able to force your landlord to pay your lawyer's fees.

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