The Bronx happens to be one of the most tenant friendly jurisdictions in the State of New York. The Housing Court and Legal Aid Society provide incredibly good self-help tools to help you out of any landlord-tenant situation. These include court clerks who will help you understand forms you have received. They will also help you fill out Answers and other legal documents to fight eviction proceedings, demand inspections of your apartment, and even forms to sue your landlord. In addition, Legal Aid and volunteer attorneys are available to give you advice in person.
If you are unable to resolve your problem before going to court, the Bronx Housing Court will try to make sure that you are treated fairly. This of course does not mean that the Court will let you stay in an apartment rent free, but if there is a way to find a solution without you being evicted, the Court will try to find one.
- Know your rights.
- What to do if:
- How to get action from your landlord:
- Tell your super or landlord about the problem.
- Put in a "Ticket" if you live in a NYCHA building.
- ALWAYS follow up with a letter to your landlord.
- Make a complaint to the Health or Building Department.
- Consider asking the Court to have an Administrator appointed to maintain your building.
- Ask the Court to order your landlord to make repairs.
- Tell your super or landlord about the problem.
Tell your super or landlord about the problem.Your first step is to tell your super or landlord about the problem. Keep notes of the date and time you give them notice and who you speak with. Make sure that you are clear about what the problem is, how long it has existed, what you want them to do about it and why it is either a danger or limits your ability to enjoy your apartment.
It is not enough to just tell the super or landlord about the problem. You should always follow up your complaint in writing to make sure that someone will be held responsible for not fixing the problem.
Put in a "Ticket" if you live in a NYCHA building.For any repairs in a NYCHA building, you must first put in a repair ticket. This can be done by phone by calling the 24-hour central hotline at (718) 707-7777. While the Centralized Call Center makes it easier to put in a repair ticket, it also adds an extra step in the process of getting the repair. Make sure that you get the "ticket number" from the call center. You will need to use this ticket number for any follow up calls or letters.
Initially the call center will schedule an appointment for someone to come and "inspect" the apartment to make sure that a repair is needed. You will need to make arraingements to give the worker access for the inspection. If the inspector agrees that a repair is necessary, then you will be told to call the centralized number again, usually in 2 days, to schedule the repair. Make sure that you get the "ticket number" from the call center during this second call. You will need to use this ticket number for any follow up calls or letters and it is likely to be different from your original ticket number.
In addition to putting in the ticket, you should always follow up your complaint in writing to make sure that someone will be held responsible for not fixing the problem, especially if it is a matter of health or safety. Address your letter to the Manager for your complex and make sure to include any ticket number(s) you have.
Make a complaint to the Health or Building Department.Any condition which is unsafe or unsanitary may be a breach of the landlord's warranty of habitability. Complaints to the proper authority may result in the landlord receiving violations with large fines. Examples of unsafe or unsanitary conditions include:
- Lack of heat.
- Lack of hot water.
- Storage of garbage, flammable liquids such as gasoline, benzine, turpentine or other offensive substances.
- Faulty or non-working toilets, baths, showers.
- Faulty or non-working electrical wires and appliances and gas stoves.
- Rodents such as rats, mice, squirrels or raccoons in your apartment or building.
- Bugs such as cockroaches or water bugs.
- Broken or non-working locks and peepholes.
- Broken or non-working elevators.
If you live in a rent stabilized or rent controlled aparment and believe you are being charged more than the legal rent, you can make a complaint by calling DHCR at 718-739-6400. You can also sue the landlord for the amounts you have paid over the legal rent (for a period of up to four years) plus interest and attorney fees and may even be able to sue for 3 times the amount of the overcharges.
Consider asking the Court to have an Administrator appointed to maintain your building.There are just some landlords who will not do what they are supposed to or who will disobey the laws protecting tenants no matter what. If your building goes without heat, running water, light, electricity, sewage disposal, or any condition which is dangerous to life, health or safety, such as rodents, for five days or more, or if your landlord is harassing tenants, you and your fellow tenants may be able to have the Court take the management of the building away from the landlord and put in the hands of a court appointed Administrator. This type of action is called an Article 7A proceeding. At least 1/3 of the tenants have to join in the special proceeding or it can be brought directly by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development.
This is certainly not something which you would do by yourself. If you believe that your building should have an Administrator appointed you should speak with a lawyer in the Resource Center of the Housing Court.