A Sandy Russo, housing law coordinator for Legal Services for New York City, said that every residential lease agreement in New York carries with it an implied warranty that the premises are suitable for human habitation.
”The failure to provide adequate heat throughout the apartment, failure to correct noxious odors, unreasonable noise and flooding all constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability,” Ms. Russo said.
She said that if a landlord violates the heat law, or otherwise breaches the warranty of habitability, a tenant has several options. For example, Ms. Russo said, a tenant can withhold the rent to compel the landlord to correct the problem. If the landlord begins nonpayment proceedings in housing court, she said, the tenant can assert the landlord’s breach of the warranty of habitability as a defense and can demand a rent abatement for the period during which the condition existed.
In addition, Ms. Russo said, if a landlord fails, after reasonable notice, to correct a serious condition affecting habitability, a tenant may perform the necessary work and deduct the cost from the rent owed.
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