Under New York law, in every lease for residential property there is an implied warranty of habitability. This is true whether or not it is actually written into the lease.
The implied warranty of habitability means that every landlord warrants three things about the property: that the property is fit for human habitation, that the condition of the premises is in accordance with the uses reasonably intended by the parties, and that the tenants are not subjected to any conditions endangering or detrimental to their life, health or safety.
If a landlord breaches the warranty of habitability in New York, the tenant does not have to pay rent. If a landlord sues a tenant because of unpaid back rent, a tenant may be given a reduction in the rent owed if a judge finds a breach of the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability cannot be waived by a tenant, even if it is written in the lease.
Therefore, a bug problem may or may not be a breach of the warranty of habitability, depending on the severity of the problem. If there is a roach visible from time to time, but there isn’t a serious problem, it’s probably not a breach of the warranty of habitability. However, if there is a serious infestation of roaches, the warranty of habitability probably has been breached. If the bug problem was caused by the tenant, though, such as by leaving food out, there has not been a breach of the warranty of habitability.
If you are a New York landlord and are having problems with a tenant failing to pay his or her rent, call the New York Landlord & Tenant Attorneys at 716-542-5444. Our attorneys will help you resolve your problem.