Every residential lease in New York City has either an explicit or implied warranty of habitability. This means the landlord is required to keep the apartment in good repair and provide essential services such as water, heat, gas, and electricity. The landlord is also required to keep the apartment building safe and accessible. If there are conditions in your apartment that violate the warranty of habitability, inform your landlord about them right away, preferably in writing. You may need proof of notice to your landlord later on.
Tenants in NYC may also contact 311 to file a complaint with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”). You can contact 311 to request an inspection of your apartment by HPD, who will issue violations to the landlord if there are conditions in your apartment that need to be corrected. HPD will also give your landlord a deadline by which they have to correct the conditions.
New York City tenants have the legal right to withhold rent for conditions that violate the warranty of habitability. Tenants who withhold rent will almost always be sued in Housing Court for non-payment of rent. You should be able to show that you withheld rent for bad conditions, and that the landlord was aware of the conditions, but failed to fix them in order to get a reduction of the rent (also known as a rent abatement) for the time period that you had to live with bad conditions in your apartment.
All tenants in New York City have the right to live in a safe, sanitary and habitable apartment. If your landlord is not adequately maintaining your apartment, you have a number of rights that we can explain to you and help you enforce.