In New York State, landlords have certain legal obligations and responsibilities toward their tenants. Indeed, tenant rights are enshrined in state law to protect you against landlord abuse and to ensure that you and your family members have safe places to live if you pay rent legally.
Unfortunately, some landlords don’t abide by these rules consistently or at all. If you are subject to unsafe living conditions, you could have grounds for a lawsuit. Read on to learn more, or let Schwartzapfel Lawyers answer your questions with a free consultation. Contact us online or call 1-516-342-2200 today!
What Are Tenant Rights In New York?
New York State law guarantees various tenant rights to protect the average citizen. That’s especially important in large metro areas like the Big Apple. According to New York State tenant laws, your landlord is obligated to provide you with certain duties and to meet certain responsibilities.
These include the right to a safe, clean, and livable apartment. This legal concept is also called the warranty of habitability. It’s included in any lease, even if it isn’t explicitly stated, and leases aren’t legally allowed to give up the warranty of habitability under any circumstances.
The warranty of habitability covers many different topics and resources, including but not limited to:
- The right to adequate heat and hot water
- The right to live in an apartment that doesn’t have an insect infestation
- The right to live in an apartment that is clean and safe
- The right to have necessary things repaired in a reasonable timeframe
- The right to leave your apartment and cancel your lease within three (3) days after giving notice to your landlord if it is rendered uninhabitable or damaged by fire, water damage, etc
- The right to enjoy public areas of shared apartment buildings free of garbage, pests, insects, damages, dangerous animals like dogs, offensive material, and more
- The right to functional plumbing, electrical, sanitary, heating, and ventilation systems
- The right to functional appliances like refrigerators and stoves
- The right to an apartment free of bedbugs
In essence, should your landlord violate any of these rights or neglect to address emerging issues, it could potentially subject you to living in unsafe conditions.. After that, you could sue them in small claims court and in other ways.
Additional landlords responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- The responsibility to paint every occupied apartment in multiple dwellings every (3) years
- The responsibility to provide and maintain reasonable security measures
- The responsibility to provide tenants with good lighting
Note that tenants also have responsibilities and legal requirements. For example, tenants are required to abide by the lawful rules within their lease contracts (e.g., not host parties with too many people, abide by quiet hour provisions, etc.).
If you breach a clause in your lease, resulting in unsafe living conditions, you may not have grounds to file a claim against your landlord. The court could interpret the unsafe conditions as a consequence of your lease violation. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure full compliance with all terms in your lease before contemplating legal action. Moreover, communicate with your landlord about your intent to pursue legal remedies should they fail to address the unsafe living conditions promptly.
Potential Lawsuits Against New York Landlords
Many New Yorkers have grounds to sue their landlords under several circumstances and legal grounds. Common lawsuits against landlords include but are not limited to:
- Wrongful eviction lawsuits
- Security deposit lawsuits
- Negligence and harassment lawsuits
- Unsafe living conditions lawsuits
Generally, you can successfully sue your New York landlord if they violate one of your rights or do not fulfill one of their responsibilities. If you aren’t sure whether you have grounds for a lawsuit, contact knowledgeable lawyers like Schwartzapfel Lawyers. Our experienced attorneys can help you gather evidence and will know exactly how to represent you in court.
Contact us online or at 1-516-342-2200 to get started with a free case evaluation now!
How To Sue Your Landlord Successfully If Living Conditions Are Unsafe
If you wish to sue your landlord for unsafe living conditions, there’s a straightforward yet time-consuming process you must follow.
First, you need to gather sufficient evidence that your living conditions are actually unsafe. A simple claim will likely not be enough, as it will likely just be your word against that of your landlord. Instead, you should gather evidence such as:
- Written testimonies from you and other apartment occupants
- Medical reports
- And beyond!
Contact Experienced Attorneys
Next, you’ll want to contact experienced attorneys right away. The right legal team can maximize your chances of recovering compensation, particularly if you receive injuries because of the unsafe living conditions in question.
Furthermore, seasoned lawyers can protect you against legal retaliation from the landlord themselves. For instance, say that you threaten to sue a landlord if they don’t get rid of a pest infestation in your apartment building. Your landlord then tries to evict you.
Because of this, you’ve become the victim of a wrongful eviction process. If you already have a legal team working for you, you can sue your landlord for this rights violation and for the earlier rights violation at the same time. In the end, you may be entitled to even more compensation than you initially thought.
File A Lawsuit In Small Claims Court Or Elsewhere
Once you’ve hired experienced attorneys, you can begin the process of filing your lawsuit. If the monetary damages amount in question is worth $10,000 or less, you can sue your landlord in small claims court. If it exceeds $10,000, you could sue them in state court instead.
If you and several other apartment occupants have similar issues and wish to band together, it may also be possible to file a joint lawsuit or tort. Again, you should speak to your legal team about this possibility. Seasoned legal advisors will likely provide you with sound legal counsel and tell you which pathway you should choose based on your finances, your family, and your overall situation.
Proving Unsafe Living Conditions In New York Properties
Successful lawsuits against landlords for unsafe living conditions are contingent on proving that the landlord has violated one or more tenant rights. There are many ways in which you can prove unsafe living conditions.
For example, you can take extensive photographic and video evidence of the unsafe conditions. You can take photos of pests, damaged lights, or lead paint. The more evidence you gather, the better. This evidence can be presented in court or to an arbitrator to show that the landlord has violated the legal rights of their tenants.
Furthermore, you can get written testimonies from yourself and from other apartment owners in the same building. If, for instance, there is a bedbug infestation affecting multiple apartments, you and the other apartment occupants should write similar statements supporting each other and stating that you asked the landlord to solve the problem, but they did not.
If you are seriously injured because of the unsafe living conditions, or if you have any medical evidence proving injury, that can also be valuable in a landlord lawsuit. For example, if you are injured and break your ankle because a stair gives out underneath you and an apartment building, that means the landlord directly contributed to your injury because of their negligence. Good evidence for this would include medical bills, doctors’ notes, x-ray results, and more.
If you aren’t sure whether you’ll be able to acquire this evidence, your legal team may be able to do it for you. Keep in mind that typically, you must allow your landlord sufficient time to address and resolve any issues or unsafe living conditions before considering legal action. For example, if you encounter bedbugs, it is essential to inform your landlord and give them an opportunity to hire pest controllers to address the problem before resorting to legal measures.
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today
Suing your landlord can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances. That’s why you shouldn’t do it alone.
At Schwartzapfel Lawyers, our experienced attorneys are well-equipped and ready to hear the details of your case. More importantly, we’ll commit ourselves to ensure you receive all the financial compensation you’re entitled to. With over (150) years of combined experience, there’s no reason not to contact us today.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!