Q: Wife has a business, opened in March. Roof leaks whenever it rains. What rights do she have against landlord?
She hosts young children for early life education through a variety of programs. Whenever it rains, it pours through the ceiling with video proof. She has to cancel classes, refund parents and as a new business risks families going else where. What can she do to make the landlord fix the roof? Or if he refuses or cannot fix the roof, does she have any right to take him to court for loss of tuition and penalties for the possible loss of income if parents take their children elsewhere?
What does the lease say? Usually, leaks, even in commercial property are the responsibility of the Landlord.
So, your options are probably:
1. Repair and deduct,
2. Sue for breach of contract, or
3. Declare the lease breached and leave.
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A: A leaking roof violates the warranty of habitability. She can stop paying rent. However, the landlord is not responsible for lost business, etc., just the rent. Call the town to issue a violation.
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From the description in the question, it appears that the space involved is a commercial one. It's recommended that your wife or her attorney reviews the existing lease and see if there is any term that requires the landlord to maintain the building affecting your wife's space.
In New York, unfortunately, the general implied warranty of habitability applies only to "residential" lease space. You may want to bring up a claim of implied warranty of fitness for the commercial space of your wife, but unfortunately again, (without proof of fraud or of a written promise by the landlord), no representation is assumed in NY in commercial leases that the premises are tenantable and may be used for the purpose for which they are apparently intended.
Often times, the bets solution of problems such as yours is to talk with the landlord OUTSIDE the court system. Once the case is put in the system, there will be likely a time/money-consuming litigation which may not practically help your wife's business purposes.
Water leakage issues should be frightening to the landlord, given the potential extension of the water damages to the building's structure. Her landlord should be serious about the issue.
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