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We have 6 roommates in an apartment in NYC. The gas was shut…

Customer Question
Hi. We have...

Hi. We have 6 roommates in an apartment in NYC. The gas was shut off in February due to a tenant call to ConEd stating that they smelled gas. Since then, the property management company has had some repairs made to meet standards, and the gas has been restored to some floors in the building, but not to ours.

Lawyer's Assistant: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?

The management company has provided space heaters, one hot plate, and has installed two electric water heaters (these help, but don't adequately meet the needs of the entire building). They have discounted the rent 15%.

Lawyer's Assistant: After your first paid question, we offer a week's free trial membership when you can ask as many questions as you like.

We would like to put pressure on them to get the gas turned back on, as one hot plate for 6 people is woefully inadequate.

Lawyer's Assistant: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?

What's the cost of the first paid question?

Lawyer's Assistant: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Landlord-Tenant Lawyer. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason.

And what would the total cost be?

Lawyer's Assistant: It can cost anywhere from $10 to $100, depending on the type of issue and how much of the Landlord-Tenant Lawyer's time your question is expected to take (how complex and lengthy an answer you require).

What is the exxpected turnaround for getting an answer?

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Yes. Each tenant has a month-to-month agreement, after the first three months. All tenants have paid their rent every month. We would like to put our combined rent into an escrow account, to put pressure on the management company/landlord to get the gas turned on. It's been over 7 months, and they keep saying "we're hopeful", but no hard deadlines. Are we allowed to withhold rent and put it in an Escrow account? How much notice do we have to give, and in what form?

Submitted: 10 months ago.Category: Landlord-Tenant
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
10/1/2017
Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 10 months ago
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 126,896
Experience: Attorney with over 24 years experience.
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Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

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Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 10 months ago

If the loss of utilities from this dangerous condition has caused you to be without cooking abilities, but the landlord has made efforts to provide you with heat and hot water in addition to a reduction of rent already, it would not be appropriate for withholding rent at this point. The landlord would have likely been covered for already taking actions realizing their inability to complete getting service to the remaining tenants is an issue and has done what they are supposed to be doing in this case, trying to compensate for the lack of services, HAD HE SOUGHT TO MAKE REPAIRS IN A REASONABLE TIME.

Without some very good cause for the delay, seven months is NOT a reasonable time to be able to cook would be deemed a breach of least for breach of the warranty of habitability in failure to make these repairs in a reasonable time.

So for starters you need to write a letter (not email) to landlord (there is no form for this) in which you describe the issue with no gas and inadequate hot water and cooking space and inform them that this is a breach of the lease, even though they have made some efforts to provide heat and hot water is is inadequate and more important is the timing is unreasonable in that 7 months is not reasonable to perform the repairs. Tell them that as they are in breach you are withholding the rent in a separate account until repairs are made. Then you can open an account and simply make timely deposits of the rent into that account until repairs are made or until you move out for their breach of lease.

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Customer reply replied 10 months ago
I'm a bit confused - you appear to say that it's not appropriate to withhold rent, and then you suggest that we can withhold rent. Please clarify.
They have provided a single electric burner for cooking. They have provided space heaters for the bedrooms. They have installed two electric water heaters, which provide limited hot water for the entire 7 story building. Are these considered adequate actions over 7 months? Heating season started today - are space heaters adequate? Are they legal?
Lastly, how much notice do we have to give before withholding rent? Rent for October is due tomorrow. Should we pay it to the management company, or put it in escrow?
Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 10 months ago

I said "IN GENERAL" where a landlord not just tried to give tenants something to alleviate the situation pending repairs, you would not be able to withhold rent. I then went onto say that the landlord had to make repairs in "A REASONABLE TIME" to avail themselves of that excuse that they were providing these things for you and 7 months without some proof of some VERY GOOD reason for the delay is NOT REASONABLE.

So, I did say generally you would not be able to withhold rent in this specific situation with these facts you provided, but because the landlord's time to repair is UNREASONABLE you could do so.

You need to give reasonable notice which is typically considered 7 business days to give the landlord time to finish repairs or try to do so or give you good cause reason why he cannot make the repairs faster than he is making them

Please do not forget to leave positive feedback by clicking on the 5 stars at the top of your page, as the experts are not employees of the site and get no credit for spending time with customers unless they leave positive feedback. Thank you.

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