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Posted by D Stams on December 17, 1999 at 11:50:13:


I'm new to this board (just discovered it today). Although I'm gleaning whatever information I can absorb, I do realize my actions are clouded by strong emotions. So I'll try to explain my situation as clearly as I can. Any advice (especially backed by legal directives) would be greatly appreciated. Here it is:

I reside in an apartment in Brooklyn; it has been occupied by my roommate for 17 years and myself for 5.
The building is definitely 100 years old (at least). We've had numerous violations, which have been reported to the landlord (sometimes, if we can catch the landlord on our days off, we track him down (he’s usually hard to find) take him and show him exactly what wrong). Our complaints consistently fall on deaf ears.

The only time the landlord feel obligated to fix anything is when we complain to the city office which handles such complaints, or when a life and death situation appears. For example, a couple of years ago in Feb, there was an electrical fire in the boiler room (we live on the first floor). This fire caused us to go without electricity, heat, and hot water. Later, that same evening our whole bathroom ceiling caved in (it had been leaking for months and could have been easily remedied if the landlord acted when we first reported it). It took the landlord a week to fix the electrical situation and 3 weeks to repair the bathroom). The following month we withheld $100 to replace food, medication, & to cover the cost of gas (to heat water for washing; we sent a note with our rent explaining this). That $100 is still carried over as arrears to this day.

Our kitchen ceiling has fallen before also and we constantly have to clean debris; we expect it to fall again anytime soon. We've shown this to the landlord 2 days before Thanksgiving last year and this situation still has not been resolved. These are just a few (of numerous) violations we've had to endure for years. It has definitely affected our health (we've developed allergies, etc.) In light of all of this, my roommate thought it would be a good idea to withhold the rent (it's in his bank account) in the hopes it would force dialogue with the landlord. Instead the landlord let the rent slide and now we have a letter stating he want us out by Monday. (It a letter from the rental management office, not the sheriff’s.) We believe it because he figures he can easily get an extra $200-$300 from a new tenant. We are not the only one’s in the building with problems, we are just the only one’s who complain. Now what! This is really eating me up!

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