NY Tenant’s Right To Livable Premises

  1. Warranty of Habitability ( New York Real Property Law § 235-b) Every written or oral residential lease warrants that the premises and common areas will be maintained in a condition that is: (a) fit for human habitation; (b) fit for uses reasonably intended by the parties; and (c) free from conditions endangering or detrimental to life, health, or safety of the occupants. Tenants cannot waive or modify this right. Tenants may prove damages for breach of the New York Warranty of Habitability without expert testimony.
  2. Repairs and Clean Premises ( New York Multiple Residence Law § 174 and Multiple Dwelling Law §§ 78, 80) Landlords must maintain every part of a multiple dwelling (three or more residential units) and the lot it is on in good repair, clean and free from vermin, rodents, dirt, filth, garbage or other matter dangerous to life or health. Tenants are also liable if the they or their guests willfully or negligently cause violations.
  3. Hot Water ( New York Multiple Dwelling Law § 75)Hot water supplied by New York City landlords must be supplied 24 hours a day, year around, unless the building was erected prior to April 18, 1929 and hot water was not furnished or required at the time of construction.
  4. Heat or Heating Equipment/Facilities ( New York Multiple Dwelling Law § 79; Multiple Residence Law § 173) Where heat or heating equipment is supplied, it must maintain an indoor temperature of 68°F when the outdoor temperature is below 55°F between the hours of 6am and 10pm, and indoor temperature of at least 55°F between hours of 10pm and 6am when the outdoor temperature is below 40°F during the months of October through May.
  5. Stay Nonpayment Proceedings Upon Failure to Make Repairs ( New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law § 755) If the landlord is ordered to remove violations or make repairs by a government agency and the court determines that cited conditions either constructively evicted the tenant from portion of the premises or are likely to the endanger the tenant’s life, health, or safety, the court may stay nonpayment proceedings if the tenant deposits rent with the court. The court has the discretion to release deposited rent to effect necessary repairs if the tenant shows that the landlord is not doing so.
  6. Department of Social Services (DSS) to Withhold Rent ( New York Social Services Law § 143-b ) DSS has the right to withhold rent allowance where violations exist which are dangerous or detrimental to life or health. The tenant may use this as a defense in a nonpayment proceeding. The landlord is not entitled to possession or a money judgment for any period during which violations existed if such violations were reported to DSS by the housing department. The landlord has the burden to prove that the violations corrected. The DSS may pay withheld rent upon proof that the violations were corrected.
  7. Rent Abatement Where Serious Violations Exist (New York Multiple Dwelling Law § 302-a; Multiple Residence Law § 305-a) If a rent impairing violation (condition designated by state building code council or local codes which constitutes fire hazard or serious threat to the tenant’s life, health or safety) remains uncorrected for six months after being cited for such violation, the landlord is not entitled to rent for any period after the six months that the violation continues. If the landlord brings a nonpayment proceeding, the tenant must deposit rent in court and upon proving the above, the tenant is entitled to the return of the deposited rent. If the tenant raises a defense in bad faith, caused the violation or refused the landlord access to correct the violation, the court may award the landlord up to $100 for costs and attorney’s fees.
  8. Smoke Detectors (New York Multiple Dwelling Law § 68; Multiple Residence Law § 15 ) All multiple dwellings shall have functioning smoke detectors that meet fire code requirements and that the tenant can check for operation. Once tenants occupy a unit, care and maintenance of smoke detectors are the tenants’ responsibility, including replacement, except where the detector becomes inoperable within one year after installation due to no fault of the tenant.

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