Thank you for your clarification.
Under NY statutory and case law, there is an implied warranty of habitability
"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."Solow v. Wellner, 658 NE 2d 1005 - NY: Court of Appeals 1995
; Real Property Law § 235-b.
If the landlord is not following that implied warranty - and it sounds like they are not - the tenant has two choices:
1) the tenant may sue for a rent reduction;
2) the tenant may withhold rent to fix the issue, and if the landlord attempts to evict for "non-payment," the tenant would have to justify his withholding.
Here, you have either option, really.
If one wishes to sue for rent reduction, an attorney is recommended. May I recommend the NY Bar referral program - here
. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.
In serious cases, the lease can even be broken, and the landlord would have to pay the deposit back AND may be liable for the difference in whatever you'd have to pay for another lease that is comparable, plus legal fees.
Alternatively, one can attempt withholding, but should first send the landlord a letter requesting the issue to be fixed, formally, in writing. Example below:Dear _______________:
As you know, Real Property Law § 235-b obligates the landlord to keep the premises in good condition. We have determined that you must make the following repairs promptly:
Please arrange to make these repairs promptly and let us know by letter, fax, or email what arrangements you have made to get each repair done in a timely manner. Should you not act within ___ days of your receipt of this letter, we reserve the right to withhold rent to fix the issue ourselves, or sue for reduction in rent.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
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