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Ceilings Leaking -- Several of Them

Not sure how to proceed here....I consulted (free) two attorneys re: my NYC apt. multiple alarming ceiling water leaks situation (one has threatened the integrity of my bedroom ceiling). Both attorneys advised me to withhold rent but their modus operandi differs from there. The first one said to not bother with him as an attorney but to go through the city's Housing Court/DEP, which would basically be free (but slow and strangled by red tape). The second attorney would charge a retainer fee of $1500 but could possibly get me "loss of habitability" (something that would be aggravated if they tore down multiple ceilings in several rooms and started from scratch, as they promised to) plus a possible year's rent abatement, plus a stay at a reasonable hotel (something heretofore my landlord has outright told he wouldn't spring for). There is also possible several years' abatement, as my bathroom ceiling completely collapsed in a very similar situation about 10 years ago, narrowly missing me as I stepped into the shower, burying in rubble the slippers I left on the side of the bathtub as wekk as the whole bathrrom. Just curious which path I shoudl select? I am inclined despite the retainer requested to go with the second attorney. I know nothing is guaranteed and I risk alienating a 20+-year-relationship with my landlord (come to think of it, it's never been a great relationship, so what am I losing?). What do you think?
  • October 02 2013 - Chelsea
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Answers (3)

Seek legal advice from an attorney that specializes in landlord/tenant cases.Every residential New York lease is considered to contain an implied warranty of habitability. The landlord guarantees that the leased property is fit for human habitation, and that the tenant will not be subjected to any conditions that could endanger life, health, or safety. If an action or omission on the landlords part results in the leased premises becoming uninhabitable, the tenant may have the right to abandon the premises. This action, called constructive eviction, terminates the lease if the tenant can prove that the premises have become unusable because of the landlords neglect. This is not intended to be legal advice.
  • October 08 2013
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I had the same issues many years back prior to being a property manager.  Based upon what I was told in my state, a ceiling leak did not cause my home to be "inhabitable" unless the leak is over 50% of the home.  It was most frustrating because mold developed and we had children with asthma. 

Typically, the process in our area is to provide written notice to the landlord or property manager to remedy the problem within ten days.  If the landlord makes no reasonable attempt, then a tenant may have the ability to seek a repair himself by a licensed contractor and request reimbursement from the landlord.

I hope this helps at least lead you in the right direction. I also hope you have renters insurance.

  • October 04 2013
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Don't think anyone's a lawyer on here and any advise would just be a matter of opinion.

I would just talk to a lawyer about getting what was left of my lease back and move on to a better apartment.

It doesn't sound like your current landlord is in the mood to spend any money on the upkeep of his property or you wouldn't be having a ongoing existing problem.

I know that's not an answer to anything but sometimes it helps to have a response from someone as to what they would do or think.
-Joseph-
  • October 03 2013
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