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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33761
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I am disabled veteran living in an apartment, Tonawanda , new

Customer Question

I am disabled veteran living in an apartment, Tonawanda , new york..I have been here 10 months. My safety is a concern at this time. I have ask every week to fix the lights, in the parking lots. There are pit bulls in the apartment area..they told me that they were service dogs, which is not the case...I have ask many apartment dwellers if there are any service dogs in the buildings there are none...I had no heat in my bedroom for the whole winter which I told them about....I have a service dog that has been threatened by other dogs here. I fear for the safety for my dog and myself. I told them I would withhold my rent until these problems where not fixed..now they gave me a three day notice to get out..it was delivered by a worker here, he now knows my private matters. which is none of his business.. we have to park in dark parking spots. I rush home before dark to get a parking spot where there is light. So my question is what I can do and can they evict me...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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I am sorry to hear that you are having problems with the tenancy and will try to help.
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Of the things that you describe, only the no heat problem would be something that could affect the habitability of your actual apartment and give you grounds to withhold the rent. But you have to follow certain steps before you can withhold rent legally and not get evicted. You have to send the landlord written notice of the problem with the apt and that you will begin withholding rent if they don't cure the problem. Then you have to give them a reasonable amount of time to correct it before you start withholding rent.
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But as for the dog issue, a service animal can be any type of animal that is "prescribed" by a licensed health care person to assist someone or even just to comfort them as an "emotional support animal" (ESA).
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So the fact that they are pit bulls wouldn't necessarily mean that they aren't service animals or ESAs.
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As for the lights, that would not be considered a "habitability" issue because it is not something that affects your individual apartment. That is more of a safety issue, but unless the landlord has something in the written lease that states they will maintain all lighting in common areas, then they wouldn't have to do so. However, if someone was injured due to it being dark, they could hold the landlord contributorily liable or even directly liable if the dark played some role in the person's injury.
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But as for the eviction notice, if you do not pay the full amount due within that 3 days, then they can legally evict you from the dwelling and have a sheriff or marshal force you to leave about 3 weeks later.
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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I said the pit bulls are not service dogs.....they are not allowed in the apartment complex...I forgot to mention that I'm deaf so not being able to hear anyone coming up on me I consider a real safety issue. Your answer does not help me in anyway.. they are getting away with the problems, with out fixing so they win and lose...
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
""I said the pit bulls are not service dogs.""
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How do you know that they are not service dogs?
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Have the owners told you that they are not service dogs or ESAs?
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Your answer does not help me in anyway..
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I am sorry if you don't feel my answer is helpful as I am always hesitant to answer a question when I know it is bad news as many customers don't really want to know what their legal position is, they want a "fix". But sometimes there is not a fix or a way out of the situation that they are in.
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But I can only tell you what the law says about a situation and what your rights are. I can't make up something and tell you that you have a right to force them to make the place well lit and to get rid of any dogs that you find objectionable because you simply don't have the power to do that under the law.
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Only the landlord could potentially get rid of the dogs if they determine that they are not actually service animals or ESAs. And the written lease controls what the parties obligation are so if it doesn't state anything about the landlord having to maintain common areas, then there is not a way for you to force them to do so unless they were in violation of a local building code for failing to keep the place well lit.
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thanks
Barrister

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