Tenants and landlords have a unique relationship. Generally, they are strangers that have arrived at an agreement about living space. Each has certain obligations and duties to meet and a well-defined lease and communication are key to peaceful co-existence. But not every landlord lives up to their end of the bargain. If you are having significant issues with a landlord, it’s important to contact an experienced tenant attorney. The Manhattan Law Office of Steven W. Smollens fights to protect the rights of tenants.
The State of New York recognizes that the tenant-landlord relationship is a two-way street. While it’s important that you meet your obligations as a tenant by paying the rent on time, minimizing noise and not disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of the property, your landlord also has a set of clearly defined duties by law.
One of the common issues that tenants face is what many call “slumlords.” These are property owners that fail to make needed repairs and conduct routine upkeep. For instance, if you have a leaky roof, toilet that doesn’t work or malfunctioning heating system, take preliminary steps to contact the building superintendent or landlord. Start with a phone call, then email and if you aren’t getting anywhere, send a certified letter. All of these communications become a record you can present to a judge. If the landlord doesn’t take corrective measures, I can file a complaint on your behalf and take the slumlord to Housing Court. Property owners are also tasked, by law, with general maintenance such as repainting apartments every few years among other things. Other reasons to make a complaint include the following.
- Bed Bugs
- Noxious Odors
- Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke
There is no reason that you should pay rent to live in sub-standard conditions.
One of the more common reasons that tenants find themselves in court are evictions. It’s important to remember that just because you don’t own the living space, you still have rights. A landlord must have cause to evict you and is required to follow certain legal procedures. If a landlord tries to force you to vacate or changes the locks, there are emergency court remedies that can be filed for your protection. If you have been served an eviction notice, there may be remedies available to avoid being displaced.
The Fair Housing Act provides all renters with powerful protections from many forms of discrimination under federal law. You cannot be denied a lease based on race, gender, orientation or disability. If you believe that a property owner has unfairly treated you based on discrimination, there may be cause for a civil action against them.
Work with a Manhattan Tenant Attorney
If your landlord is not meeting the obligations set out in the lease agreement, filed an eviction claim or is not maintaining the property, it’s time you had an advocate to protect your rights and interests. Call the Law Office of Steven W. Smollens for a consultation.