Throughout New York City, millions of residents pay thousands of dollars in rent each month to live in apartment buildings that are often plagued by safety issues and in desperate need of maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, for far too many renters and tenants in the city, complaints about unsafe building conditions and broken and ill-maintained boilers and heating units fall on deaf ears.
In cases where a broken elevator, dangerous stairwell, icy sidewalk, or faulty hot water heater leads to the injury or death of a tenant; a landlord should be held accountable. While city tenants may believe that a landlord's actions are wrong, it's important to understand the legal responsibilities that a landlord has to his or her tenants as well as tenants’ legal rights.
According to the New York City department of Housing Preservation & Development, the following are some of the key elements that landlords must provide to ensure for the safety and security of tenants.
- Adequate building security measures
- Working and maintained heating equipment
- Adequate lighting
- Hot and cold water
- Safe environment that is free of potential hazards
- Clean and well maintained interior and exterior of building
- Working smoke detectors
In cases where a landlord has been notified that one of the above-mentioned building necessities is unsafe or not working and he or she fails to take action to repair or rectify the situation, a tenant has rights and may choose to take legal action.
In writing, a tenant should document any and all deficiencies in a premise's condition and sent a copy to a landlord and/or building owner along with a deadline by which such repairs should be made. Depending on the violation, a tenant may then choose to file a complaint with the appropriate city government agency. A tenant may also choose to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney.
In cases where a tenant has suffered injuries, it's especially important to seek legal advice. An attorney will advocate on an injured tenant's behalf and fight to recover damages and compensation related to physical injuries, medical expenses, lost wages and disability.
Source: Metropolitan Council on Housing, "How to get repairs (when your landlord refuses to make them)," July 13, 2015