There are countless renters in New York who have problems with their landlords. Many of these complaints have to do with maintenance requests and repairs that take too long to be completed or frequent problems with building heat and hot water.
There are a number of drawbacks to renting an apartment (as opposed to owning a home). From a safety perspective, you have less control over the common areas of the building and the amenities inside your unit. You may not be allowed to make changes that you feel would greatly improve your safety and/or the beauty of your living space.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about a recently filed wrongful death lawsuit. A young woman from Brooklyn left New York to attend Boston University. In April 2013, she died in a house fire in her off-campus rental property.
Most New Yorkers who own a business have probably been frustrated at one time or another by local building, fire and safety codes. Certainly, keeping a building up to code often requires a lot of work and added expense.
According to the New York Times, there are between 12,000 and 17,000 buildings in the city that provide water to occupants using rooftop water tanks. Citing a city survey, the Times also said that 60 percent of NYC building owners don’t bother to make sure the water tanks on their buildings are in basic compliance with city regulations. Some $700,000 in fines were levied against non-compliant buildings between 2010 and 2012 alone.
As we discussed on this blog in December, 10 cities and counties in California earned a surprise win in a public nuisance lawsuit against former lead paint manufacturers and their successor companies. Legal until 1978, lead paint is now known to be poisonous, especially to children. Yet 35 years later, innumerable older buildings in California, here in New York and across the nation still contain the hidden hazard. Lead paint abatement is mandatory in certain circumstances, but countless homes and apartments haven’t received it, risking the health of unknowing renters and homebuyers.
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions. No one should understand this more than landlords who own and lease out residential properties. They need to make sure that tenants and visitors have access to a safe environment, which can mean keeping hallways and stairwells clear, installing adequate lighting and removing any ice or snow from walkways. This last responsibility can be crucial in winter months in New York, but it is one that is often overlooked by negligent property owners.
Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported finding 147 meth labs, sets of glassware and chemicals, and byproduct-dump sites in New York -- a record high. That points to a growing problem: every meth lab leaves behind toxic chemical residue that could be harmful to later residents, or even neighbors. Unfortunately, renters and homebuyers in New York have no way of knowing whether their new home is a former meth lab.
December is the deadliest month of the year for one particular type of fire. Can you guess which one? If you assumed it was Christmas tree fires, the U.S. Fire Administration wants you to know that’s not the case. While under-watered natural trees and defective artificial ones can indeed be fire hazards, the real danger in December is electrical fires.
If you rent an apartment or house in New York that was built before 1978, your home may contain lead paint. While you shouldn’t dismiss other potential causes of lead poisoning, dust from lead paint is still the No. 1 source of lead poisoning in U.S. children.