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I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Landlords must provide all tenants of multiple dwellings with both hot and cold water. Hot water must register at or above a constant temperature of 120 degrees at the tap. If a tub or shower is equipped 23 with an anti-scald valve that prevents the hot water temperature from exceeding 120 degrees, the minimum hot water temperature for that tub or shower is 110 degrees (Multiple Dwelling Law § 75; Multiple Residence Law§ 170. This is part of the "warranty of habitability".
If a landlord breaches the warranty of habitability, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. Alternatively, rent regulated tenants can also file a rent reduction complaint with DHCR (NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HOMES AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL). Before filing such a complaint with DHCR for breach of the warranty, the tenant must communicate in writing with the landlord about the problem. A complaint may only be filed with DHCR not less than 10 days and not more than 60 days from the date the tenant sent a notice to the landlord. The tenant may also withhold rent, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for non-payment of rent. In such case, the tenant may countersue for breach of the warranty. The court or DHCR may grant a rent reduction if it 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. For a tenant to receive a reduction, the landlord must have actual or constructive notice of the existence of the defective condition. A landlord’s liability for damages is limited when the failure to provide services is the result of a union-wide building workers’ strike. However, a court may award damages to a tenant equal to a share of the landlord’s net savings because of the strike. Landlords will be liable for lack of services caused by a strike when they have not made a good faith attempt, where practicable, to provide services. In extenuating circumstances, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct reasonable repair costs from the rent. For example, when a landlord has been notified that a door lock is broken and willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a locksmith and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should keep receipts for such repairs and copies of all communications with the landlord about the repairs. If an apartment becomes uninhabitable due to fire or other damage not caused by the tenant, and the lease does not expressly provide otherwise, the tenant may vacate the apartment and cancel the lease. The tenant will not be liable for subsequent rental payments. The landlord shall be responsible to refund any rent paid in advance as well as any rent security held by the landlord (Real Property Law § 227).
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