New Fairfield, CT asked in Real Estate Law for New York

Q: hi, someone i know recently moved into an apartment with lots of mold that they didn’t know was there

they are now experiencing health problems from said mold and yet their landlord won’t release them from the lease. what can be done about this?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Toshinori Isoai
Toshinori Isoai
Answered
  • New City, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Assuming that this is in NY, there is an implied warranty of habitability under the New York Real Property Law § 235-b. If your landlord doesn't repair the qualified conditions, then you have the right to withhold the rent. If the filthy condition has been established as well as its serious interference with your friend's living, and his/her landlord knows about it, you may have a good case.

However, before you start withholding the rent, you may want to take certain steps, setting your emotional distress aside. You will probably too want to set aside the rent monies in a separate bank account as a proof that you are not indigent and can pay the rent.

First, and most importantly, you need to ensure the landlord knows of the bad condition. Some times, landlords, especially those who hire and delegate their tasks to management companies, don't know of your bad condition. You may want to send a letter to the landlord (certified mail or the method required under your lease) explaining the bad condition, your request for proper repairs and your intent to withhold certain rent amount if no improvement is observed in XXX days. You want to do this even if your landlord and you are close, friendly or greet ever morning, or your landlord makes promises verbally.

What you may want to keep in mind is that when you withhold your rent payment for any "legitimate" reason, your landlord will probably sue you for non-payment of rent, leading to a litigation in the Housing Court at which time retaining a lawyer will probably be recommended.

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