All you lawyers - I need help! Please read :)

  1. Okay, this is a long story but I'm making it short. In november 2005, the guy who does the landlord's heavy work for the apartment building made a hole under my oven to fix a leak. The hole leads to the basement, where I guess they have a lot of roach problems. Not only did the guy never fix the leak, but he never fixed the hole. I have asked and asked every month since December for them to fix it, and the super tells me that this guy is coming 'soon'. The problem is that roaches are coming up from the basement and making themselves very at home - it is DISGUSTING! I won't even use my kitchen anymore because of that.

    At my wits end, I sent a notice explaining the problem once again, and telling them that if they don't fix the problem by May 15th, I will not only contact the NY housing department, but hire my own contractor to fix it. And then I will deduct his bill from the amount of rent I send landlord. I pay a good amount for a 1-bedroom in a nice neighborhood, so I feel that it entitles me to at least a sanitary apartment without a growing roach infestation. And believe me when I say these roaches have gone from annoying to really bad - I see like 10 or more a day. And very often with the surprise of a waterbug - saw and killed TWO in one day. I used to run at the sight of them, they are so gross, but now have had to devise my own method of killing them without having to get too close. lol

    My question is - can I legally do this? If I do hire a contractor to fix the problem when the landlord hasn't, is there a chance that they may sue me for taking it out from the rent? I would appreciate any advice ! :smile: thanks
  2. I am not a lawyer .....but that is really corny that he has not done anything to fix the problem since december .... I would call L&I or somebody to see what the correct steps are to get the problem fixed. Hopefully someone here can lead u in the right direction.
  3. I don't know how it works in NY, but in Maryland the landlord's neglect of the subject property which is ultimately making it inhabitable constitutes constructive eviction on the landlord's part. In MD, the way to go is to make a complaint with the housing commission (so that it will be on record) and with-hold rental payments until the problem is solved.

    I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I hate roaches. I can't even stand to see them.
  4. I know, I hate roaches too. They are one of my phobias, which I have to face. Heavensent - what is L&I?

    And thanks envyme - I think I will make a complaint with the housing commission so that have it on record. Withholding rent is a good idea also, I will ask them about that.
  5. oh wow, thank you so much for that site!
  6. Yeah! No prob! ;)
    I know that in one of the places I volunteer at, we use that site a lot :love:

    I love their fact sheets and people who I give them to loves them too! It helps people understand everything way better!!!

    Hope everything goes well :smile:
  7. That site is very helpful, I searched online but didn't find anything myself. I found exactly what I need on there and glad to know that what I am doing is within my legal rights since it says that the landlord is reponsible to keep apartments free of insect infestation (didn't know that for sure before). It says the tenant can either withhold rent, or deduct cost of repair from the rent - and also contact the city. Can't thank you enough for that site - its exactly what I was looking for!
    I am sure the landlord will hate me now, but oh well. At least we'll be on the same page
  8. The Health department can force the Landlord to do what he has to do.I would suggest you document everything ie letters to the landlord photos of your unwanted tenants (roaches). To show to the health inspecter.

    Did you call 311 ?
  9. Just to add about withholding rent, some states just let you withhold the rent while the problem is fixed. Some other states (like mine in MN) require you to pay payments to the court (as if you were paying rent).

    Sooooo be aware of that ;)
  10. Good idea - I will take pictures but that may be hard to do since they run around so fast. No, I haven't called 311 yet. I am giving the landlord until May 15th before I take legal action or call the housing department. If I don't hear back before then , I will definately call 311 :smile:
  11. 311 will ask if you have tried to resolve the matter with the Landlord. if you have to step on the critters then do it. The Landlord has a responsibility to his tenants, he knows he is in violation. Trust me the documentation will be your life saver.
  12. I do kill the roaches when I can (learned a trick from my boyfriend, Use one of those long BBQ lighters and then spray body spray onto it. It kills them instantly). I will definately take pictures from now on with my digi cam, especially of the water bugs (shudder). I did save a copy of the letter I just sent him and will be sure to save copies of everything else too. Thanks for the tip :smile: People who browse through the pictures on my digital camera will wonder why I have so many pictures of dead roaches lol
  13. I suggest you contact your local tenant advocate non-profits. They should be able to tell you what your rights are, where you can get free legal advice, etc. There are some non-profits that will mediate landlord-tennant problems as well. I think it's best to have guidance in handling these issues instead of going to a lawyer right away. I used to be a housing counselor at non-profits, and getting a third party involved, even if they're not lawyers, can sometimes be enough to get the landlord to act on a problem.

    In any case, make sure to document all the damage by video/photo and keep a record of all your communication with anyone involved in this issue. It's preferable to do all the communication in writing, but if you talk on the phone, make sure to keep a written record of when the conversation took place, the name of the person you talked to, etc. When in doubt, ask for it in writing!!
  14. In Utah (which is generally a very landlord-friendly state) you can deduct the cost of repairs from your monthly rent. Not sure about NY, the above posters made good suggestions about what to do.