In New York State, if you are a renter of residential property, in good standing, consistently and timely making your rental payments, yet are being forced to live in deplorable living conditions, rooted in neglect by either act or omission of your landlord, (said condition being through no fault of your own) then read on:
New York Real Property Law Section 235-b - Warranty Of Habitability
§ 235-b. Warranty of habitability.
1. In every written or oral lease or rental agreement for residential premises the landlord or lessor shall be deemed to covenant and warrant that the premises so leased or rented and all areas used in connection therewith in common with other tenants or residents are fit for human habitation and for the uses reasonably intended by the parties and that the occupants of such premises shall not be subjected to any conditions which would be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or safety.
When any such condition has been caused by the misconduct of the tenant or lessee or persons under his direction or control, it shall not constitute a breach of such covenants and warranties.
Issues of mold, mice, vermin, defective plumbing, faulty ventilation, un-operational air conditioning units, malfunctioning heaters, and all the like, experienced as a direct result of the landlord’s building/home being rendered/and or manifested in(to) same condition, is the responsibility of the landlord. To be told otherwise, or advised, that you, as the tenant, are responsible for the remedying of same is incorrect and unfounded as both a matter of law and equity.
As a matter of fact, upon placing the landlord on actual notice of said conditions, the landlord has a duty to rectify the existing conditions so as to render the premises habitable and safe. The US Court of Appeals has held that the condition must rise to a level constituting “constructive eviction”…whereby the situation has become so grave… that you are considering leaving/abandoning the premises, so as to protect and promote your best interest and/or that of your family members. That being said, you can always supplement your position by claiming that this is the situation you have been forced in to; to wit, feeling compelled to leave.
Although common sense would dictate that this is the normal protocol, you would be surprised as to how many landlords purposefully neglect their statutory obligations, and try to defer/deflect the responsibility and financial obligations of remedial measures on to their tenants. The non-informed lay person(s) “genuflect” to such a response/mandate by/of the landlord, unaware of the legal protection they are afforded.
If, as a renter, after advising the landlord as to their blatant “breach of the warranty of habitability”, and said advisement/information “falls on deaf ears,” forcing you in to such a precarious situation, you can abate rental payments until such situation(s) are remedied, and even abandon the premises pending restoration of the premises to habitable/suitable living conditions. If you are a New York City resident/renter, calling 311 or HPD (Housing Preservation Department) and advising as to such living conditions, and the landlord’s lack of attention thereto same, is also recommended.
It should be noted that the “right to quiet use and enjoyment” is sometimes incorporated by reference, but notwithstanding, is a separate right in and of itself. The “habitability warranty” pertains to safety living conditions/ conditions of living environment.
In summation… DON’T BE BULLIED — BE INFORMED.
Know your rights and be protected.