New York City landlords have the responsibility of ensuring that their apartment buildings are well-maintained, safe and clean in both the units themselves and also the common areas. Tenants must have both hot and cold running water in their apartments, heat, adequate lighting and security measures in place.
When repairs are necessary, the landlords are responsible for seeing that they are done. The property owners must annually register their holdings with the Department of Housing Preservation & Development. In rent-stabilized properties, the rents must be recorded each year with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Compliance with all New York City Housing Maintenance Codes and New York State Multiple Dwelling Laws is also mandatory.
If you have a landlord that refuses to repair obvious safety hazards, documenting your efforts to correct the situation is crucial. Keep a log of all phone and in-person contacts you make with the superintendent, landlord, managing agent and owner regarding the unsafe conditions.
The next step is to write and send certified letters to the property owner and management company detailing the necessary repairs and a reasonable date for fixing them. Keep copies of all correspondence and mailing receipts. The HPD can provide you with the correct addresses if necessary.
At this point, you have laid the groundwork for filing a complaint if your concerns remain unaddressed. The next step may be reporting the unsafe conditions to the City's Citizen Service Center by dialing 311or filing a complaint through 311ONLINE.
HP Action cases can be brought against property owners in Housing Court. If you prevail, they will then be ordered to correct the unsafe conditions. While an attorney is not required for a tenant to initiate an HP case against their landlord or property owner, some city dwellers may benefit from an attorney's knowledge of code enforcement and violations.
New York City attorneys may also be able to direct your concerns to other agencies that can assist with resolving the unsafe conditions in your building. If you have been injured due to a lack of proper security provisions or failure to maintain the premises, you may have a cause of action to sue those responsible and recover damages.
Source: NewYorkCity.gov, "What are the responsibilities of my landlord?" Dec. 26, 2014