Part of the charm in living or renting in New York City is the older apartments that can be found from the wealthier to poorest sides of the city. As might be expected, the middle to lower end of the apartment spectrum in the Big Apple may be more at risk in proper maintenance being done in your room or building. As evidence of how lack of maintenance can be dangerous, a gas pipe explosion in an older section of New York City on March 12 of this year leveled an entire apartment.
It was a heads-up moment for the aging apartments there that are perhaps getting too much neglect. If you’re living in an apartment there now or plan to rent one soon, who do you turn to if you can’t get a landlord to take care of necessary maintenance? You have the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development on your side to get that landlord on his toes about fixing things that could harm you and other residents.
Contacting the HPD
A code enforcement through the HPD demands all landlords keep their apartments in habitable condition throughout the year. This includes providing proper heating during the winter months to make their apartments livable. While most landlords figure they can’t get away with not providing heat, other repairs may go by the wayside. These can be instantly reported within New York City by merely dialing 311.
The HPD frequently compiles these complaints through a search database to see if others have reported the same apartment you’re living in. If something dangerous could soon happen if the landlord doesn’t take action (e.g. a ceiling collapse from dry rot, or gas pipe problems), the HPD is going to step in and take action immediately.
How the HPD Deals with the Landlord
An HPD inspector will be sent to your apartment to take a look at what the pressing issue is. They’ll talk with you and give you information on your rights as an apartment tenant. Plus, the owner will be contacted to let them know about the complaints and show them how many were received. The owner will be shown what needs to be done and be requested to fix it or face some consequences.
Unfortunately, there may be a rare apartment owner who still won’t do anything. These are far and few between, yet it’s been known to happen. If the owner refuses to fix the problem, the RPD will come in and fix it for you and then bill the owner. Keep in mind the RPD only does this for repairs that would be deemed hazardous to your health.
Taking the Landlord to Court
Thanks to the rights you have as an apartment owner, you can take your landlord to court for refusing to pay for repairs that endangered the life of you and other tenants. Through NYC’s Housing Court, your landlord may be forced to fix the problem or face stiff fines for being a menace to hard-working tenants.
With these laws known by landlords, it may seem shocking that some of those owners could possibly take things as far as they can go. But then, that isn’t something endemic to just New York City and can technically be worse in other major cities. For the sake of your own safety while you attempt to make a living in New York City, remember to keep the HPD number close by in your cell phone contact list.