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Questions - Tenant Rights

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•frequently asked questions  •ask a question  •questions by category •questions 900-949  •questions 850-899  •questions 800-849  •questions 750-799  •questions 700-749  •questions 650-699  •questions 600-649  •questions 550-599  •questions 500-549  •questions 450-499  •questions 400-449  •questions 350-399  •questions 300-349  •questions 250-299  •questions 200-249  •questions 150-199  •questions 100-149  •questions 50-99  •questions 1-49

 
Question #845: I rent a duplex in a 4 story brownstone.  There is one apartment below mine and one apartment above mine. The  person upstairs has to walk through my duplex to access her apartment. She uses a common stairwell and  hallways to get upstairs. The outside lights and vestibule lights are on a timer. They come on at 5:00pm and stay on all night.  The hallway lights have motion detectors and they come on every time anyone enters the common stairwell and hallways.  The electric meter is configured such that the electricity used in these common areas registers on the bill for my duplex. Am I entitled by law to a meter that reflects only the costs for my apartment? Post your answer

Answer: Short of a Philadelphia lawyer to read and interpret your lease, which should give a clue to the answer, I would call Con Edison and complain that you are being billed for another's lighting. If that runs into a stone wall, try filing a complaint with NYC Dept.of Housing Preservation & Development (311 will get your there). Dick Koral

Question #844: I live in a 4-unit, converted brownstone apartment building that I just found out is for sale. My lease was up last August, and I never bothered to try and renew the lease because my neighbors told me the landlord, who's not that active in the affairs of the building, would raise the rent. Now that it is for sale, what would be the steps and advantages of trying to make the building go co-op? Would I be able to buy my apartment under value? If the apartment is sold to another party, what are my rights in terms of eviction? Post your answer

Answer: This is probably the kind of question much more geared to the forum at tenant.net.

Question #840: I received a safety notice in my apartment today that stated the building is non-fireproof. Is it safe to live on the 6th floor in a non-fireproof apartment building? Post your answer

Answer: "Fireproof" doesn't mean it's impossible to burn, it just means a building is built in such a way that it will catch fire less easily. Older buildings can't be described as fireproof; newer buildings are by code constructed in such a way that a major fire will have a harder time getting started and spreading. Anything will burn given high enough temperatures (remember the WTC on 9/11?) Is it safe to live in a building that isn't classified as fireproof? Is it safe to cross the street? Is it safe to ride in a car, a bus, a subway? It's all relative. You have to weigh your needs (or wants) against what's available or affordable and reach your own decision. Probably more important is the question of getting all the residents in your building educated about what starts fires, and if a fire does start, what do you do to get out and protect yourself and other residents. Here's a good PDF on residential building fire safety. Printing it out and giving copies to the head of each household in your building would be a good idea. Glen Stoltz

Question #836: My landlord has decided to put 4 uncovered trash cans in the hallway of our building because he was getting summonsed for the outside trash system. This brings vermin and smells beyond belief. Is this in any way legal? Post your answer

Answer: This is permissible. Under the Multiple Dwelling Law, Title 3, there is no mention that the receptacles need to be stored outside - or rather cannot be stored inside. This is the letter of the code: "Sec. 81. Receptacles for waste matter. 1. The owner of every multiple dwelling shall provide proper and suitable conveniences or receptacles for ashes, rubbish, garbage, refuse and other waste matter and shall arrange for the removal of such waste matter daily. 2. No person shall place ashes, garbage, rubbish, filth, urine or fecal matter in any place in a multiple dwelling other than the place provided therefor, or keep any such matter in his apartment or upon his premises such length of time as to create a nuisance as defined in section three hundred nine." Furthermore, the receptacles do need to have a tight fitting cover. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #835: It's November 16th, and my landlord just announced he's raising my rent $350 starting December 1.  I'm in a non-stabilized building.  Is 15 days notice legal?  I thought he owed me a month. Post your answer

Answer: You need to look at your lease. If you lease does not specify how much time/notice the landlord is to give you, then 15 days is it. Free market rent or non-stabilized apartments have very little protection. As always, you should consult an attorney. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #834: I signed a lease to pay all the utilities for a one-family home. A few months later I told my landlord I could not pay for the gas because it was too high. The landlord made an addendum to the lease by increasing my rent and taking over the responsibilities of the gas bill. I did not sign the addendum to the lease, but my landlord switched the bill into his name. Recently the landlord has asked for the increased rent and I have not paid it. He has decided to switch the gas back into my name. Can he do that? Post your answer

Answer: Sorry, but this would be a question for an attorney to answer. I won't dare give you my personal opinion about your deplorable actions and intent. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #824: We do not pay for heat. It is freezing in here all day and most of the night. What is the heat by law suppose to be? The radiators are cold. Heat may come on between 3 & 6 AM, water does not get hot - run for a few minutes, may get lukewarm. Tell me what I can do for landlord to come correct. Post your answer

Answer: The heating law requirements are set out on this page. You can dial 311 to register a complaint with the city if those requirements are not met.

Question #822: In New York City can a landlord deny certain tenants (rent stabilized), in a 5-floor walk-up, a washer and dryer if there is no laundry room in the building? Post your answer

Answer: Yes, a landlord can deny or not give approval for a tenant to install a dishwasher and / or washing machine in the apartment. In most leases this is written clearly. I have yet to see any lease that does not have a clause that prohibits washers. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #806: Is the landlord supposed to provide the tenants with garbage cans for disposal of trash? Post your answer

Answer: Under the housing codes, the landlord must provide approved containers for tenants' garbage. They can consist of either garbage cans with lids or garbage bags suitable for garbage. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #772: I'm a co-op apartment owner, 1 of 8 apartments, in a 4-floor brown stone in Brooklyn. Where can I look up for the subjects regarding to: (1) conflict of interest rules / laws, and (2), any work for building that may or may not require competitive biddings. Post your answer

Answer: These are very good questions, and could be brought up at our Small Building Support Group which will meet on August 8th (if enough people sign up). Conflicts of interest are complex issues; we devote whole seminars to this. When serving on the board, every individual must put private interests aside and act in the best interest of the cooperative. Board members should disclose to their colleagues any relationship they may have with any vendors, etc. that the building uses and should recluse themselves from discussions where they might have (or appear to have) a personal interest.

As for decisions regarding competitive bidding, each cooperative can set its own policy regarding the level at which to require competitive bids, using common sense as a guide.

Mary Ann Rothman
CNYC Executive Director
212 496-7400
250 West 57 Street, Suite 730
New York, NY 10107-0700

Question #706: I have a follow up to question 408 that was posted. I also live in a prewar building with another tenant above me. I hear EVERYTHING they do. I hear TV, stereo, walking, vacuums, moving, bodily functions, door slams, talking, etc. It is very loud at all times of day and night. Their apt is mostly carpeting with padding. What can I do to make them shut up? What can be done so that I don't hear every move, step, and word they say. Carpet and padding doesn't seem to work. Post your answer

Answer: Acoustic problems are usually the most difficult to solve. The tenant upstairs seems to be OK, since his/her floor is carpeted and padded. You really need an acoustical engineers. Search the Yellow Pages for one. Dick Koral

Question #625:  NYC law does not allow an air conditioner to take the place of a window guard. Tenant wants an air conditioner in a room with one double-hung window and no fire escape. A 2 year old child lives in the apt. If I must install a window guard in this room, is it my problem that the tenant will not be able to use an air conditioner? If the tenant can have an air conditioner rather than a window guard, then how do I protect myself in the event that a future claim is made against me because no window guard is in that window? The tenant asks how to escape from a court yard airstack room that has only one double hung window and no fire escape if a window guard is permanently attached to the window frame. Post your answer

Answer: My opinion: have the a/c unit installed at the top of the window and the guards at the bottom. Best of both worlds. Peter Grech, GBOC


Question #603: My building has just been sold. I live in an unregulated apartment and my lease is up for renewal. So far I have not received a renewal notice. How far in advance must the landlord notify me about intent of renewal or non-renewal of the lease? Post your answer

Answer: If your lease was a rent stabilized lease, by law the landlord must send out lease renewal forms 120 days before the lease end date. In a deregulated apartment there is NO such provision or law. My opinion: you are put on a month to month lease, most probably the new owners will condo the building. So, if you don't buy in, they can terminate the lease. That's my opinion. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #602: Who is responsible for installing a legal fire gate at fire escape windows - tenant or landlord? Post your answer

Answer: Unless it is specified in the lease who is to pay for the installation, it is assumed that the tenant will pay. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #600:  A tenant allowed his sink to overflow. This caused damage to his apartment and to the ceiling below. He contends that he isn't responsible because the run-off safety drain wasn't functioning and the floor in the water closet isn't all water proof. Please advise. Post your answer

Answer: First of all congratulations on being our 600th question. I wish I had a box of steak knives or other gift to give you. The following is only opinion based on past experience: the answer to your question depends on type of ownership - co-op, condo or rental. In most cases, if the sink is defective then the owner of the sink is responsible for damages. If the sink is not defective, then the person who created the overflow is responsible.  In any event, this is a legal question and should be asked of an attorney.  PGrech, gboc.net

 

Question #593: I am a tenant in a rent stabilized apartment who installed, at my own expense, approved security window gates while living in my apartment.  If I move, can I remove them or do they become a permanent fixture of the apartment? Post your answer

Answer: Real Estate Law states that anything that is bolted or attached to a unit becomes a part of that unit and belongs to the landlord - that's the short version. In actuality, most people just remove them before they move out without hassle. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #592:  I live in Brooklyn in a 43 apartment building. Some of us are rent controlled. We were told the super works 8A.M. - 4P.M. and no Saturdays or Sundays. The super doesn't answer his phone. Is there anything we can do? Post your answer

Answer: Supers are human too. Unless its a bona fide emergency, you will have to wait until Monday. Try giving a better xmas gratuity, that usually motivates some supers to go above the call of duty. John G.


Question #578: I am a tenant in an apartment, and I want to post my name on the mailbox, but the super keeps removing it. I have no problems with the landlord, and I let the landlord know about this situation. He promised to talk to the super, but the super is still removing my name from the mailbox. What do you suggest I do? Post your answer

Answer: Report him to the US Post Office. He is in violation of tampering with US Post Office business and property, and could be arrested. I would warn him before you notify the Post Office. Eugene Marabello


Question #575: The apartment building I live in is in a U shape. Across from my window, 20 feet away, there is a very noisy a/c. The neighbor is very uncooperative. The owner plays an innocent. What should I do? Do I have any rights? Post your answer

Answer: Yes, you have the right to quiet and enjoyment of your apartment. The DEP is the agency to call if you have a noise complaint. What you can do depends on if you live in a rental or a condo/co-op. Call the managing agent first with the complaint, then the DEP. There is something called cityproof windows that will soundproof your apartment. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #564: Is the landlord responsible for my having access to the electrical fuse box? I live on the top floor of a 2 family home, and the fuse box is in a non-approved basement apartment that I do not have access to. Every time the electricity goes out, we have to pray that the tenant is home, if not we have to wait until she or the landlady gets around to letting us in to remedy the situation. What are my rights? Post your answer

Answer: All tenants have the right to access their own fuse boxes. If they don't, then there must be someone who can within a reasonable time. Call HPD and find out your rights. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #562: Is it possible to evict a rent controlled tenant based on their repeated unauthorized entry into the boiler room? Post your answer

Answer: I doubt it. However you CAN press charges of trespassing if the boiler room door has signs posted, "Authorized Personnel Only - Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted". Call the police if the signs are on the door. PS. The boiler room door should be locked. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #557: I see that it's been stated here that there is no required license for supers, but there must be some skills or programs they must pass right? I live in a poorly maintained building, and people wonder why we don't have a porter or a handyman, what the responsibilities of the super are, and although you have told others that they should contact the building management for such questions, what do we do when the building management chooses to ignore us and our questions, who do we turn to then? Post your answer

Answer: There are plenty of good courses available to take, but there are absolutely none required to have been taken and passed before hiring someone for a super's position. As for who to complain to about your poorly maintained building, you can try calling the City's 311 line, or call HPD and ask them for advice. It's a tough situation when the property management company doesn't respond in a timely fashion to complaints, but sometimes they can be forced to do so with some outside pressure.


Question #531: My NYC rental apartment is up for lease renewal. My room for the past year has been filled with a disgusting smoky-cigarette smell from my neighbors (fumes traveling through the wall). My rent was raised $150 for next year and it would be a burden financially and physically for me to move to another building. What are my legal remedies with the landlord, if any? No rent increase? Allow accommodations to move to another apartment in the building? Post your answer

Answer: This is not the forum for a landlord/tenant legal question. You should probably consult a lawyer with experience in this field, and you might try asking your question at tenant.net.

Answer: Your lease should give you a warranty of habitability. Talk to your landlord and/or super and see what can be done. If you have kitchen or bathroom vents instead of windows, most likely the smell is coming from there. The vent fan needs to be checked. If no vent, then the smell could be coming from the baseboards. The baseboard and not the wall is the weakest link in the wall. Try sealing off all the baseboards top and bottom of the molding. Check for holes in walls in the kitchen and bathroom where the plumbing comes through the wall. Seal them off too. Note: only the walls next to the apartment of the smoker need to be done. So first find out who is the smoker.


Question #525: I live in a pre-war co-op and have an original shower body inside the wall. I want to have an acrylic wall system installed in my stall shower. I've had drip issues since buying the apartment. My super has replaced the valve stems & changed the washers twice. I'd like a one valve unit installed while work is done to the walls/floor. Since now would be the time to avoid further plumbing issues with the shower body, I'd like to know how I can have the co-op pick up the tab. The unit isn't leaking into the wall, yet. I would pay for all parts. What are my options? How can I position myself for having this done as a proactive measure? Post your answer

Answer: The problem with most co-ops and condos is that the board has little idea of what proactive or preventive maintenance means. However, in the case of a shower body, it is a close call. Look to your offering plan, that should state who owns the shower body. From my experience, the shower body, even though it is behind the wall, does belong to the owner of the apartment. One, it is for your exclusive use, and two you can see the controls from the apartment. Sorry. But in some cases the building may pick up the cost. Just ask. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #514: I live in a prewar building in Brooklyn. The noise of my upstairs neighbor's every step is amplified throughout my apartment, even though he has carpets on his wood floors. I would like to install soundproofing in my ceilings to reduce the noise. Is this feasible, and will it be very expensive? Post your answer

Answer: Of course it CAN be done, and yes in all probability it will be expensive. How VERY depends on your frame of reference, as does its feasibility.


Question #501: If a tenant does not comply with the garbage recycling procedure, which results in the landlord being fined, could the tenant be liable for the fine, and if this was an ongoing issue, could this be basis for the tenant’s eviction from apartment? Post your answer

Answer: If you are around when the sanitation inspectors come and watch them go through the garbage for violations, you can point out to them the tenant that did not comply. If would help if they found the name and address of the non-complying tenant in the garbage. At that point the inspector can issue the tenant a summons. If it's just bottles and cans you're out of luck. Your managing agent would need to speak with the building's attorney. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #458: I own a co-op and recently a heating pipe froze and burst in my bedroom, flooding and ruining carpeting. My insurance only covered $215 out of $803.00 bill to replace carpeting. Co-op officers say they do not have to reimburse me for any difference in loss. What should I do, go to small claims court? Post your answer
Answer: First check your proprietary lease. In many cases, you the shareholder are responsible for the "improvements," regardless of the cause of the damage. Improvements are carpeting, cabinets and even finishes like paint.

Answer: I agree with the above, but for a small filing fee, you can go to small claims court. I think that's possibly the best road to take. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #453: In my apartment building with over 35 apartments, the super's name and apartment number is clearly posted in the lobby. A building directory listing all the current tenants is mandatory, too. Is it mandatory to post the telephone number of the superintendent too? Can a summons be issued by an inspector if no telephone number appears? Post your answer
Answer: The Housing Maintenance Code, Article 3, section 27-2053-C states that the phone number, address and apartment number of the person responsible for "janitorial services" must be shown in the lobby of the building. A violation can be issued against the owner of the building for failing to provide the phone number of the superintendent along with the address and apartment number. The violation does not initially carry a monetary penalty but allows 30 or 60 days to cure the violation. If the violation is not cured, a monetary sum is placed on the violation for not having it cured in the time frame allowed. PGrech, gboc.net
Question #452: I live in a multiple condo building. I am an owner of one of the apartments and I live in the same apartment for five years now. People living right above me are tenants and they make a hell lot of noise everyday from 10:00 pm to 12:00 am, so much so that I cannot sleep. Moreover I have a child who is 11 years old and gets up for school every morning at 6:30 am. His sleep is also disrupted. I asked the super to talk with the tenants but he refuses to do so. Is that right? Isn't it one of the responsibilities of super? Post your answer
Answer: Supers have many responsibilities and tasks. They vary from building to building according to the building type as well as his job description as handed to him/her by the owner and management company. In your case refer to your offering plan and proprietary lease, and see what your rights are to quiet and enjoyment of your apartment. Once you have found that section, call the managing agent. The managing agent can enforce rules more effectively than the super. PGrech, gboc.net
Question #436: Who is responsible for maintaining lobby mailboxes in a co-op. My key is not working, and there is no way for me to get my mail. My super is trying to charge me for the repairs and a new cylinder. Post your answer
 

Answer: The owner of the apartment, in either a condo or co-op situation, is usually responsible for paying to have the lock cylinder changed. Ask someone on the board for the details if you don't have access to the offering plan or other existing written materials.


Question #435: We had hot water problems since we moved into our apartment 2 1/2 years ago. We had sent multiple email and as many calls, but only called 311 when we lost all hot water for 3 weeks. The problem has now been repaired. We withheld 1/2 our rent last month. My questions are: 1. Are we eligible for back compensation living in an apartment that frequently did not have hot water? 2. Should we hire a lawyer?

Also the valve in our radiator came off while the super was trying to fix it. Our bedroom filled with steam and many things were ruined, including a prized painting. They said they are not liable. Our renter's insurance said they are, regardless of the lease. Can you tell me what is the law on this? Do I have any rights? Post your answer

Answer: We are not in a position to give legal opinions. These questions should be asked of an attorney. You can also call the Rent Stabilization Association at 212-214-9200 or check out their website, and they can answer these questions as long as you have a rent stabilized lease. Sorry we can't help more - we are geared more toward maintenance and operation questions than legal ones. Pgrech

Answer: We are supers, not lawyers. Hire a competent attorney and ask someone who has been through this to tell you their experiences.


Question #434: I was the poster with the question regarding the noisy furnace / sump pump below me. After calling the Super, the owner of the building called me. He himself is going to go and check it, but apparently he doesn't think there is anything that can be done except installing a rug. He has offered to reimburse me for whatever I spend on carpet and padding. Does anyone know what kind of padding product is best at insulating against sound? Thanks very much in advance, your advice was very helpful. Post your answer
Answer: First of all I am glad we were of some help. Its nice to get a thank you from people we try to help. And I'm glad to hear the landlord is reasonable in this manner. Carpeting will help reduce the noise. Which carpet padding I don't know, it's best to ask the carpet store that question. Keep in mind that while carpeting will help reduce noise it may not be eliminated altogether. If it isn't eliminated, I suggest some sound proofing over the ceiling in the boiler room, making sure the sound proofing is fire resistant and conforms to New York City fire codes. Now, the noise will be reduced but not the vibrations. To reduce or eliminate vibrations on the sump pump as you said, vibration eliminators can be installed for a reasonable cost. A plumber would install the eliminators. Pgrech, gboc.net
Question #425: I  am the super of a 19 family building. One of the tenants left a 1 year old child on a bed which was pushed up against a cast iron radiator. The baby put his hand on the radiator and got badly burned. The tenant has lived here over 3 years, and never asked for them until their baby got burned. They are now suing the owner. My question: Is there a New York City law for radiator covers? Post your answer

Answer: Read the Multiple Dwelling Law (NYS) and the Housing Maintenance Code (NYC) for possible answers.

Answer: No law requires covers. Torts - No Common Law or Statutory Duty of Landlord to Install Radiator Covers in an Apartment Where Children Live Rivera v. Nelson Realty LLC, 7 N.Y.3d 530, 825 N.Y.S.2d 422 (2006). The Court of Appeals affirms the First Department which had held that there is no duty imposed on a landlord either by virtue of the Multiple Dwelling Law or the Administrative Code to require installation of radiator covers in apartments where they know that small children reside. The court takes the opportunity to expound on the meaning of Basso v. Miller (40 N.Y.2d 233 (1976)) which abolished the distinction between an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser insofar as the duty that is owed. The standard of "reasonable care under the circumstances" is deceptively simple and not so broadly interpreted. A landlord is still not liable to a tenant unless a duty to repair is imposed by statute, by regulation, or by contract. In this case, as in the case where there was no duty to install window guards (Ramos v. 600 West 183rd Street, 155 A.D.2d 333), the Multiple Dwelling Law, Section 78 does not mandate a duty to install radiator covers, nor does the City's Administrative Code, Section 27-809, which applies only to insulating exposed piping.


Question #424: I moved out of my apartment and left some scratches on the wall. My landlord is charging me $250 to fix it, which I think is too high. Do I have a right to do it on my own or hire a professional to do it for cheaper? Post your answer
Answer: In most leases, there is a clause stating that upon vacating the apartment, it must be left in a "broom swept" condition. Your lease also normally states that the walls are to be left in the same color and condition as when the apartment was moved into, less normal wear and tear. Since you already moved out of the apartment, and IF you surrendered the keys, it is too late to cure this. If you have moved out but not yet surrendered the keys, then you still have the right to correct the condition. Pgrech, Gboc.net
Question #418: I live in a rent stabilized building. My question is: are laundry washing machines allowed in rent stabilized apartments. The tenant above my apartment has a washing machine and it overflowed and leaked into my apartment causing damage to my ceiling and wall in my apartment. My landlord recently purchased the property I live in and he was wondering if he has the right to notify the tenant above me to remove the laundry washing machine from the premises. Post your answer
Answer: The answer to this depends on the rental/lease agreement you signed.  Read it to find out whether or not the use of washing machines is spelled out. Whether or not your apartment is rent stabilized has little or nothing to do with it. Your landlord or the landlord's managing agent needs to get up to speed on this before making a move either way.

Answer: To expand on the answer above, your lease has nothing to do with your upstairs neighbor. Its the upstairs neighbor's lease that counts here. Pgrech, Gboc.Net


Question #417: What are the rights of an owner of a two family dwelling, who rents the basement level to a family member, on a month to month basis? How can a owner legally evict a tenant with children (one with a handicap) from a two family dwelling? Post your answer
Answer: This is best answered by an attorney. However, note, that a month to month renter does not have to be evicted. The month to month agreement simply is not renewed. Eviction only comes into play if the renter does not pay the rent or refuses to surrender the apartment. Pgrech
Question #408: I live in a pre-war building and I have problems with noise from the upstairs apartment. I hear conversations, my entire apartment vibrates when someone walks around upstairs, there is little or no sound-proofing. Is this normal? If not, is my landlord responsible for making my apartment more sound-resistant and if so, how do I go about enforcing this?  Post your answer
Answer: Your lease holds the key. You have the right to quiet enjoyment of your apartment. In most leases, carpeting of at least 80% of the apartment must be done by the tenant. It is the landlords duty to enforce this, assuming it is in the lease. Carpeting eliminates a lot of the noise from an apartment above. PGrech, gboc.net
Question #392: Is the landlord or tenant responsible for building (painting and fixing things) maintenance and outside maintenance (mowing shoveling etc.)? Post your answer
Answer: Once again: it depends on the kind of building you're living in, and even more on the lease agreement you have for your apartment. Take out your lease and read what it has to say about the things you're asking about. The answers should all be there. If not, ask your building management or landlord to explain.
Question #390: I have been living in a rental apartment on the Upper West Side for 7 years. My bathtub needs to be reglazed, and my living room ceiling needs to be repainted. I want to know if the landlord is responsible to cover the costs for the repairs as well as supply the services. Post your answer
Answer: Your lease should determine this. If it is a normal lease, then the landlord is required to paint your apartment every three years. The landlord is also required to make reasonable repairs to your apartment to keep it habitable. Reglazing your tub, even though the cost is about $300.00, may or may not be the landlords duty to do, depending on why the tub needs to be reglazed. If it's only normal wear and tear the landlord needs to reglaze, but damage due to tenant neglect and or misuse is then the tenants responsibility. Pgrech, Gboc.net
Question #388: My upstairs neighbor has let her washing machine overflow at least twice in the last month and 5 times in 2 1/2 years. The super told management and they sent her a letter stating that they are responsible for any damages and the super told me I would have to sue them myself. Is this true? Each time I have had to mop up and clean my counters and cabinets. Isn't management supposed to see to it that the neighbors are not negligent? Post your answer
Answer: Always refer to your lease, it is your road map to your rights. If there are no washers permitted in the lease then its up to the landlord to remove her washer and possibly pay your damages. If it is in the lease, your home owner's insurance should take care of it. All apartment owners and renters SHOULD carry home owner's insurance. Small Claims court is where you would have to sue if it comes to that. Make sure you have photos and you would need the super to testify as a witness. Pgrech, Gboc.net
Question #384: Is the landlord responsible for providing water, is the tenant required to pay the water bill if it is not in the tenant's name? If so is it legal for the landlord to use this water for other reasons not for the tenant's benefit. Post your answer
Answer: Your lease should provide the answer to this question. In NYC in buildings of 4 apartments and over, the water is included in the rent. In a one family house the water may or may NOT be included in the rent. 2 family to 4 family houses - I do not know. Again the lease will tell you what you are responsible for. If the water is not being used by you exclusively, then you have a recourse for reimbursement. When it comes to legal issues its always best to ask a lawyer. Our answers are based on our experience and our limited knowledge of the law. Pgrech

Answer: Try asking your question at tenant.net.


Question #377: In NYC by law, are landlords supposed to supply tenants with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by law. I also rent, and my landlord supplies all of his tenants with both alarms. I'd like to know if my mother should request the same service. We both leave in Queens and we are both in rent controlled apartments. Post your answer
Answer: Yes. Landlords are required to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in every dwelling unit. They are also allowed to receive from tenants monies to cover the cost of the purchase of the detectors: $10 per smoke detector and $25 per carbon monoxide detector. Read more about the new law here. Pgrech
Question #372: I live in a building that has about 30 apartments in it, should we have a building security. Post your answer
Answer: Go to the community officer of your local police station. He or she will have all the information you can use. Dick Koral

Answer: Security is a group tenant effort. Yes, you should have security, what kind and what level can only be determined after canvassing the building by a professional to see your vulnerable spots. The cheapest forms of security are good outdoor lighting, good front door locks and diligence by the tenants. And, if you can afford one, a good intercom system. Pgrech


Question #357: I recently moved into a co-op in a six story elevator building built in 1955. The building construction appears solid but I am not an expert in this area. However, we have parquet floors that are nice looking but very creaky and the neighbors below us have complained that when we walk it is too loud. We plan on getting carpets which will hopefully minimize the noise. We do not hear anything from the neighbors next to us, but we can hear the people upstairs walking around as well. Is there something wrong with these floors or is this typical in buildings of this construction type? Is it naive to assume you will not hear your neighbors walking? Post your answer
Answer: Yours is a common problem. Good carpets solves most of it. After you get yours, ask the people upstairs to do the same. If they won't, take them to court. Dick Koral

Answer: In most leases in rental apartments, and in proprietary leases in condos and co-ops, there are provisions that state that the apartment must be at least 80% covered in carpeting or rugs. That is your recourse for your neighbor, not court. Pgrech


Question #346: I live in a multiple dwelling with 20 apartments. In the lease, washing machines in the apartments are a violation. Is the landlord responsible for supplying a laundry facility on the premises and if not, shouldn't we be able to have washers in our apartments? Post your answer
Answer: No, I don't believe the owner must either install a laundry facility in your building OR allow machines in apartments. The alternatives are to use a dry cleaners or a laundromat type facility.
Question #331:  I live in a duplex that has separate gas lines but shares one water heater. the only access to the water heater is through the neighbor's apartment. This means one of us is paying to heat the water for both apartments. We were unaware of this. The landlord is out of town as is the new neighbor and I have no hot water and cannot get into the apartment to let the gas company in. Are there laws that deal with the use of one water heater for two apartments - and access to it? is there a way to determine which apartment actually pays for that? Post your answer
Answer: Whatever the situation, the law says the landlord MUST provide you with hot water. Call HPD or go to www.nyc.gov, go to Agencies, click on housing, and send your complaint.
Question #316: A recent electrical inspection on my apartment revealed that all of my major appliances are running off of one electric line. This has been an ongoing problem since I've lived in the apartment almost 5 years. Is my building responsible to fix this problem? Post your answer
Answer: Your situation is not uncommon. Many old buildings have only 4 circuits. These buildings were built in the days when electrical appliances were not in common use - or even invented yet. The answer is NO, the building is NOT responsible to upgrade your electric due to you having more appliances then what the system was designed for. If you had an electrical problem such as a short circuit, etc, then yes the repair of the short is a building responsibility. One solution: see how much total amperage is available in your apartment. If the answer is at lest 80 to 100 amps then you can discuss with the manager how much would it cost to add two more lines, usually - 15 or 20 amps each. In most cases a building will upgrade the circuits at the request of the tenant and pass along the cost. Pgrech

Answer: You have a common problem that most people solve, providing there is enough amperage, by breaking up outlets into separate circuits. Of course, electrical work could be costly depending on the extent of the work. Eugene Marabello


Question #302: What are the responsibilities of the super to protect the tenants from robberies? What to do if the tenant was robbed twice already? Post your answer
Answer: Building security is a TEAM effort with management, owners, residents as well as staff. The building should have a security company give you a security audit. This audit will show where the weak links are, as well as solutions to correct them. Putting the blame solely on the staff is unfair, and in most cases is a mistake. Pgrech

Answer: The super and staff will likely only enforce the measures which management already has in place to protect residents. Find out from the super or the manager what has been done to address these types of situations, and if it's insufficient (it may be if there have been robberies) or implementation of those responsibilities has been lax by the super and his staff, speak to management about making some changes. To the second question: without more information it's impossible to tell what to do if robberies have already occurred - it really depends on the particulars of both situations. Again, speak to management and together come up with better ways of dealing with the issue of safety and protection of the building's residents.


Question #299: My property manager has taken a month to replace a broken air conditioner in my apartment (Nassau County). Do I have any recourse in terms of a deduction from my monthly rent? Post your answer
Answer: A month may seem unreasonable, but as long as you were still able to use 100 per cent of your apartment you have no case for any allowances. Pgrech
Question #288: Are multiple dwelling owners required to provide a stove and refrigerator? Is there any requirement for the replacement of appliances? Post your answer
Answer: There are no requirements under the Housing Maintenance Code of New York City or under the Multiple Dwelling Law of New York State that require the landlord to supply appliances in an apartment. However, that does not mean the landlord is not required to maintain appliances. The key here is: What are the terms of the lease? And is the apartment rent controlled, rent stabilized or decontrolled. See also Question # 264. Pgrech
Question #285:  Am I responsible for repainting an apartment when I have moved out? I was responsible for repainting when I moved in. Post your answer
Answer: Painting your apartment on vacating it depends on the terms of your lease. Most normal leases do not require the tenant to paint upon moving out. However, you should leave it in a broom swept condition and in the same color that you found it in. In other words, if the apartment was painted white and you repainted it red or green etc, then you need to repaint it white or run the risk of losing your security deposit. Pgrech

Answer: Generally you're not responsible for repainting your apartment when you move out -- or for normal wear and tear. You ARE generally responsible for items needing repair that go beyond normal wear and tear; read your lease agreement or talk to the managing agent for details.


Question #275: I bought in a co-op building 2 years ago. We have a common courtyard with a chain link fence around it. I live on the bottom floor and look out on the courtyard but on my side of the fence is a 15x20 slab of concrete that my windows look onto. I left a message with my managing office that I would like to spend my own money fixing it up. I have tastefully cleaned it up. I placed a bench out there. NOW, my super says it is against the law because it is a fire hazard because it is above the parking garage BUT so is the common courtyard that also has benches on it. My question is, are there any regulations or is someone just jealous that I made something nice out of something ugly? Post your answer
Answer: To the best of our knowledge, if the bench is close to the wall and the walkway is NOT fire egress, then  there is NO fire hazard; if the bench is not close to a source of combustion, then again - no fire hazard. Last, if it was a fire hazard, this type of hazard is so low on the list that only a violation to remove would be issued. Pgrech

Question #272: I would like to know requirements of the landlord to maintain smoke detectors within each unit as well as in the hallways. I live in a building consisting of 4 units. Post your answer
Answer: To my knowledge, a smoke detector should be installed between the kitchen and each bed room, If the bedrooms are side by side only one smoke detector is needed. If the bedrooms are not side by side, that is, one on each side of the kitchen or thereabouts, then two smoke detectors are needed. (Buying a kitchen fire extinguisher wouldn't be a bad idea -- of course you would have to pay for this). Last but not least, each hallway must have a smoke detector on each floor (in a new or totally renovated building). It's the responsibility of the tenant to maintain the smoke detector if it is NOT on a central system, i.e., it uses batteries, so don't forget that batteries must be checked and keep an extra battery in the house. You didn't mention if you have a gas boiler - if you do, it's a good idea to install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector as well. Roberto Cardona
Question #266: I just bought an apartment in an 8-unit, fully owner-occupied co-op building in Brooklyn. None of the other owners have dishwashers or washing machines, even though the lease allows it. Since we pay the building's water bill collectively, they've voiced concern that our appliances will raise their bill. We've offered to chip in more, but there's no way to tell how much water we'll really be using. How do other co-ops deal with this? Are there individual water meters we can attach to each apartment? Post your answer
Answer: Dishes have to be washed, whether by hand or by machine. In most cases people let the water run down the drain while washing dishes. Did you KNOW that a dishwasher in many cases uses either the same or LESS water then if down by hand? The only thing a dishwasher uses more of is HOT water. Pgrech

Answer: Engage a plumber to install a water meter on the lines going to the washing machine, if the co-op board agrees. Dick Koral


Question #211: Do the tenants have to pay for painting the hallways in the building? We didn't ask him to do it - its 10 years or longer since he did anything. Every year he gets a 7.50% rent increase from 6 families that are rent controlled. Post your answer

Answer: All approved MCI (Major Capital Improvements) are passed on to the tenants. However, I believe there is something NOT right in the picture your question has painted (no pun intended). You need to call the NYC Rent Stabilization Board. They keep an eye out for rent stabilized tenants and will be the best source for answers to this question. Pgrech


Question #198: I live in a 20 story building with about 260 units. This is a post war building with central heating and air conditioning, with oil fired boiler. When I inquired about adding a roof deck I was advised that this would be unhealthy and that people that used it could literally turn green. I was never able to get another explanation. Other than structural issues, what are other areas of concern with adding a roof deck, especially health concerns. Post your answer

Answer: There may indeed be health issues: If I read the question right you are in a central air-conditioned building, so there is usually a cooling tower. The cooling tower many years ago was responsible for Legionnaires Disease. Poor maintenance of this equipment can lead to sickness. The cooling tower water has chemicals added to it. So a proper answer depends on the maintenance of the cooling tower, as well as how close any planned deck is to the cooling tower. Pgrech

Answer: There are NO health concerns with adding a roof deck, unless you want to consider the construction noise from building it, or the sunburn you might get from sunning yourself on it. Whoever told you that a roof deck could turn you green is either a kook or was playing with you.


Question #196: I just recently moved into a home converted to 4 different units. The heat is included, and that is the problem. Under habitability laws, how warm must the landlord keep the home. I have talked to several residents and they to have said the place is extremely cold. On average 58-62 degrees. Post your answer

Answer: It appears, after reading some of the applicable law about landlords supplying heat in the Housing Maintenance Code AND the section on heat in the Multiple Dwelling Law, that your heat may be below the minimums set by those laws. However, the question remains whether or not the building in which you live comes under these laws or not. I believe it does, but it's something you must determine for yourself. You can always call 311 and file a heat complaint when you believe the heat is too low, and take it from there.


Question #192: The landlord provides heating in our apartment block. What are his responsibilities regarding when the heating comes on and how long it stays on? Post your answer

Answer: The very basic minimum requirements for heat are enforced by the City; further information is available here.


Question #188: My new landlord is planning to install an electronic key/magnetic lock proximity card system at our entrance doors. The tenants are concerned with the failure rate of this new system and the restriction of access to the building. Are landlords allowed to restrict access to the entrance doors (in rent stabilized buildings). Do these systems fail during blackouts? How else might they fail? Post your answer

Answer: There is no Code limiting the use of card entry, as opposed to key entry, for rent stabilized apartments. If the landlord is wise, he would install a battery back up, which would not cost much more to install. I prefer the old key system, but that's just me. Keep in mind that even though you pay rent, it is still the landlord's property, and therefore he can restrict entry only to tenants and family who live with them. Visitors are treated the same way as the usual key way. By using a card system, it is better protection for the building in general as you can not make copies and give them out to people. Pgrech


Question #184: I have lived for 14 years in a Manhattan basement apartment and have just discovered that there is only one gas and one electric meter for me, hallway lights on six floors, outside lights etc. = shared meter with the landlord for which I have paid the entire bill. Before now the meters were behind a wall which was ripped down and updated meters installed. Upon asking the landlord he played dumb. As if MAYBE before they updated the meters, they were separate, but I saw with my own eyes the situation yet was too sluggish to investigate until now. I have many years' worth of bills but not all 14 years. I was barely home except to sleep, and knew the bills were high. Where to turn? Post your answer

Answer: Your situation is not uncommon. Most small buildings where the landlord does not live on premises use an existing apartment in the same way.  Contact the landlord and try to resolve it. Otherwise, as a last resort, call HPD. PGrech

Answer: Call NY State Public Service Commission's Complaint Line: 800-342-3377. They can help you. They have a direct connection into the utility's computer and can bring your Con Ed bills up on their screen. This unit of PSC is one of the state's best kept secrets! Dick Koral


Question #183: I live in a building that has 43 apartments. I'd like to know if we're supposed to have a super on the premises? Post your answer

Answer: The number of units in the building is only one factor among many. And, it's OK for the super to live, rather than IN the building, within several hundred feet of the building. Someone will no doubt be able to answer you with more clarity, but for starters read the applicable question and answer on the FAQs page. Also, look under Categories: Supers & Management and read the questions and answers there, especially Question #69.


Question #182: I need the phone number to report lack of heat in my building. Post your answer

Answer: 311. This is now the only number to use for ALL non-emergency calls to the City. Lack of heat in your building, while it is important especially as it gets colder, comes under non-emergencies. That number is 311. (See the advertisement for 911 and 311 in the left column of this page, near the bottom).


Question #159: We live in a big old pre-war building. Occasionally there has been a strong chlorine smell in the taps or shower -- to the point where it stings the eyes. The city says it is not them and they have tested the water inlet. It is something in the building? Any ideas? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer:


Question #140: I rent in a two family building with the landlord living upstairs. I replaced a very old light switch that wasn't working anymore. Behind the switch there was no metal box, the switch was just screwed to wood. I thought this was a fire hazard, and told her about it (she's quite old). She said its been like that for years, why should we worry? Where do I stand legally? Should I be worried? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Since the building has been around for a long time, and you haven't had problems in the past, you probably won't have any problems in the future, as long as you don't overload the circuit. Overloading the circuit will overheat the wires, which could cause a fire.

Answer: I would forget the legal issues. The installation is unsafe. Report the problem to the Dept. of Buildings. Dick Koral


Question #136: My apartment building entrance door has a spring to shut the door after opening and there are glass panels in the door. The door sprung back at me the other day and in trying to stop the door, my hand went through the glass panel and cut my hand very badly (12 stitches and lots of small cuts). Is the landlord negligent in that, first, he didn't use tempered glass, and second, didn't use a damper to slow down the door, instead of a spring? Is he responsible for my medical expenses? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: We do not dispense legal advice. Consult a law professional.


Question #134: Please let me know the tenant's rights in New York City when an apartment gets flooded. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your question is too general. What type of ownership of the building or apartment? Who or what caused the flood? However, generally speaking in most cases when a flood does occur, it is up to the terms of the lease to determine the cure. Also in most cases, the lease states that a tenant should or must have home owner's insurance. PGrech

Answer: Go to: http://www.housingnyc.com/resources/hmc/hmc.html and read. Your first stop should probably be to click on Tenants Rights Guide in the left column. You can probably apply what you read to your own situation.


Question #132: I live in a rent stabilized apartment, and I was wondering if the Super has any less responsibility to me than he does to the other tenants in the building. I have a couple of window panes (glass) that have fallen out of the window. Is he required to fix this, or do I need to call the management company? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: In this as in many things, it's "the squeaky wheel that gets the grease". If you complain loud enough and long enough (and accompany that with a liberal tip now and then) you will usually get done what you need to have done in your apartment. That being said, a super has NO LESS responsibility to you, as a rent stabilized tenant, than to the market rate renters. If you're fairly certain that you're being shortchanged because of your rental status, you should probably complain in writing to the management company, but don't really expect that to change things, since the super may be giving you less attention with the tacit agreement of Management.  Keep a copy of all correspondence with management, and if your written complaint to them doesn't produce the results you desire, file a complaint with the City. Check www.nyc.gov for which agency to go to with your complaint, when/if that becomes necessary.

Answer: The super answers to management. As long as there is no directive forcing him otherwise, in the eyes of all supers, all tenants are equal - rent controlled, rent stabilized or market rent.  There are times of course when tipping is involved, then some tenants may be more equal than others - not in every case but - that's a fact of life. Remember supers are human too. Most are under paid and unappreciated. It should be determined who broke the windows. Then make sure it is the super's responsibility to replace the broken panes of glass.  This is done by asking him/her or the management company. IF it is the super's responsibility, set up a date, if it's not, ask the management company who will be responsible to take care of it. If all else fails, contact the city and have an inspector come and issue a violation, but this is only the last resort. PGrech


Question #130: I live on the 2nd floor of a four story apartment building. When the tenants on the 3rd and 4th floor use their washing machine, water backs up and overflows into my kitchen sink. Is there any device that I can install to stop this problem? The lease states that any tenant with a machine is in violation of their lease, but management has not enforced this clause. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Perhaps the problem has nothing to do with the washing machines above your apartment and more to do with a clogged drain pipe just below your apartment. I would suggest that you have the super investigate that possibility. Gene Marabello

Answer: The problem lies with the drain line riser pipe. They are too small to handle the washer pumping a lot of water at one time.
One solution would be that the tenant above have the drain cleared from their apartment down to the first floor or lower if possible.  Another solution is to put a check valve between the drain riser and your trap under the sink. However this solution may not conform to the plumbing codes. The check valve allows water to flow from your sink into the drain but prevents any water backing up. It is a one way flow device.
Peter Grech


Question #125: Is my super required to assist me with an installation of a window air conditioner? I am on the 4th floor overlooking a sidewalk and I have never installed one before. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: No he is not required to help you, unless it is specified in his job description. But -- most supers are happy to help install air conditioning units for their tenants for a fee. Just remember the law: If the unit extends out past the window 10 inches or more, brackets are needed to support it.


Question #124: I just moved out of a 6 apartment building and my landlord (he owns others) has deducted the cost, $1800.00, to repaint the apartment, which, by the way, hasn't been painted in 7.5 years. Is there any standard for how often a landlord, in an unregulated building, has to repaint? Small claims court -- here I come. Thank for any help. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Unregulated means UNREGULATED. While there is no set charge a painter charges, it will be hard to say if the amount you were charged is fair or not. The landlord should have receipts and cancelled checks to prove this amount was the amount charged and that the work was actually done and paid for. You should have done a WALK THROUGH with the landlord before handing over the apartment. In the walkthrough the landlord would have told you that you were going to incur charges. Note that charges should only be for DAMAGES that the tenant made and NOT charges for NORMAL wear and tear to the apartment. PGrech

Answer: Go to www.tenant.net, there is a forum on that site where you can ask your question and get the best advice. Matt

Answer: Unregulated only means that the amount of rent and renewal increases are not subject to government regulations. All buildings with three or more apartments are still subject to the New York state multiple dwelling law and the New York City housing maintenance code. Landlords are required to paint apartments every three years. Your landlord cannot charge you for painting your apartment. He could withhold some of your security deposit, but only for unusual damages, not normal wear and tear. Jeff Eichenwald


Question #119: My apartment is heated by gas and I've discovered that I am also paying to provide heat to the radiators in the vestibule and hallway in my building. My landlord tells me that this is costing me no money and that it is not in violation of the shared meter law. Is this correct? How can it be that two additional radiators are not increasing my gas bill? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I can't answer the question of whether or not it's legal, but it's not uncommon that a tenant would have part of the building, hallway and/or outside lights on his/her meter. Yes it would certainly increase your monthly bill, ranging from a negligible to an outrageous amount, depending on how much of the landlord's electricity or gas you are paying for. PGrech


Question #104: I just moved into a new place. The super asked me for $300. I did not say I would pay him that, I agreed to tip. The landlord never told me about this and it's not in my lease. The super has told me "Where is my money?" Yesterday I told him I'd give him $50 but that's it. He got angry and said that if he would have known this he wouldn't have referred me to the landlord. I am very upset because I think am being scammed. Now I am sure that the super is never going to fix anything in my apartment. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Only YOU can really know if you are being scammed, but it sure looks like it to me, from the little you've said. Whatever arrangement was made between you and him, you both are duty-bound to honor it, as long as it's legal. But one thing is certain: IF the super will refuse to fix things in your apartment because you didn't pay him what was agreed on (even if you both agree that the amount was what he said it was), then he is wrong and is behaving unethically. In that case you should report him to the landlord or the managing agent responsible for the building. This is all a very nebulous area, and a true 'he said/she said' situation, but he can and should be fired IF he does not take care of things in your apartment which are his responsibility.

Answer: Charging anyone for showing/renting an apartment is illegal. It's called "key money." To find better answers to this question, you need a website geared towards tenants rights. Go to this website: www.tenantnet.net. Post the same question there and they may be able to help you find a good way to proceed.


Question #94: I live in a tenement downtown. Our building does not have an intercom system. Residents of the 5 floor, 16 apartment building have asked the landlord for one but she says its too expensive to install. Approximately how much do these things cost to purchase and install? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Most intercom installation companies will give you a free estimate. There are too many variables to give you even an approximate estimate without visiting the building site.


Question #80: I am paying $1,650 per month for a 2 1/2 bedroom apartment in Bayridge, Brooklyn in a two family house. The rent is premium but many facilities in the apartment are not. The windows are really old and there is cold air coming in when there is wind, most of the doors in the rooms do not close, there is little or no water pressure in the bathtub, and there is no way to open the front door from within the apartment unless we go down stairs and open it. I have spoken to the owner several times and he ignores us. What can I do? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your problem is a legal one, and would best be discussed with an attorney. Two-family houses don't fall under many City Government agencies. However your landlord may or may not be in violation of the lease pertaining to the Warranty of Habitability or to repairs. See your lease. Pgrech

The following is taken from nyc.gov in reference to the Warranty of Habitability:

Warranty Of Habitability
Tenants have the right to reside in a comfortable, safe, and sanitary apartment. Landlords must provide heat and hot water on a regular basis. They also must control insect/pest infestation. If a landlord breaches this agreement, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. The tenant may also withhold rent for recurring conditions, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for nonpayment of rent. In such a case, the tenant may counter sue for breach of the warranty. Any adverse condition caused by the tenant or other persons under the tenant's direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability by the landlord. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. Rent reductions may be ordered if a court finds that the landlord violated the warranty of habitability. The reduction is computed by subtracting from the actual rent, the estimated value of the apartment without the essential services. A landlord's liability for damages may be limited when the failure to provide services is the result of circumstances beyond the landlord's control. For example, a water main break or workers' strike. In cases of emergency or neglect by the landlord, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct the reasonable repair costs from rent when due. For example, when a landlord has been notified that a sink is leaking and willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a plumber and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should obtain receipts for the repairs and present them to the landlord along with a written explanation of the deduction from the rent.

Question #78: I live on the 5th floor of a 30 unit apartment building in Manhattan and I have two questions:

1) Whenever I shower, the water temperature goes from boiling hot to freeze cold in a matter of milliseconds, making it very hard to shower. Why does this happen and is there anything I or the Super can do?

2) Our boiler is broken at least twice a week, and my apartment is left freezing cold. I have lived here for a year and its the same thing. Can I do anything? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The problems you relate translate into serious violations of the city's department of Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) Housing Maintenance Code. Don't blame the super. The owner probably will not pay for repairs that needs be done by an outside mechanic. Do call the HPD emergency heating number (you can dial 311) and once an inspector finds the apartment cold, he will give the owner a short time to fix, otherwise HPD will fix and bill the owner. Dick Koral


Question #73: I was wondering if anyone could shed light upon the super's duties concerning pest control. Basically, I have mice, lots of them, crawling around my apartment and eating my dog's food. My dog has a self feeder and that is the ONLY food that is not refrigerated in my house. I addressed the situation with my superintendent and they told me that I have to wait a month until the exterminator comes again (I was never informed that he comes monthly. They told me that there's a posting of this in the trash room of the apartment building, which I later found. It was about the size of a post-it.) Anyway, they sort of gave me this 'there's nothing we can do' song and dance aside from suggesting I get glue traps and other devices that I'm afraid my dog might get into. Is it MY responsibility as a tenant to keep the building pest-free or the super's? Any information will be greatly appreciated. I want to be a little more informed before I talk with my super again tomorrow. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: It is really both YOUR responsibility to keep your apartment relatively free of pests, AND your landlord's. You must do what you can (and there are lots of things you can do) to be pest-free, and your landlord has an obligation to treat for pests at least once a month IF you ask for it.

So the first thing you can do is ask for it. It is your right. The second most important thing you can do is take ALL food away from the pests, thus giving them a disincentive to pay you a visit. Yes, that means the dog food also. Figure out another way, because they will seek you out if you give them a reason.

The super is correct, he doesn't have to do more than the one monthly extermination. What is ethical to do is another thing, but you probably can't demand more of him without looking like the bad guy. You could ask him to come by and close all the holes where the mice can enter and exit. Some supers are open to that, others aren't, but it is well within their scope of duties.

Many people do very well with a hungry cat, although if you already have a dog you may not want a cat also. Good luck.


Question #68: When a tenant is locked out of his/her apartment. Who's responsible to get the door open -- the super or the tenant? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The policies vary from building to building. In some buildings the residents are asked to leave a key with the superintendent. The super then places the key in a tamper proof envelope with a number that responds to the apartment. The key would be used in the event of an emergency: medical, gas leak, floods or fire or lockout. If this is not the case then the resident may have to call a locksmith. Some supers know certain alternate entrance procedures on getting doors open, and while some residents appreciate it, others frown on the idea.
Roberto Cardona

Answer: It also depends on who claims ownership of the lock, and whether or not the lock failed to operate or did the owner of the lock just lose/not have the keys.
Peter Grech
Question #58: I have two windows in my apartment that are a potential security problem. One goes out onto a common patio area, and another to the fire escape. This makes both windows accessible to other tenants of the building. Is my landlord required to put window gates/bars on these windows for my safety, or is this the tenant's responsibility. Thanks in advance! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your landlord is not required to supply window gates. Only latch locks on the windows or window guards if there are children less than 10 years old in the apartment. If you choose to put in window gates yourself, you must use a fire department approved gate on the fire escape window. These gates do not have key locks but use a restricted access latch.