Asked in Landlord - Tenant for New York

Q: Process for terminating NY lease due to landlord breach of warranty of habitability

After moving into our new unit, we left on holiday for a week. Upon returning, we discovered our entire unit reeked of cigarettes and weed (most likely coming from the bathroom vents) and documented this with the landlord. From my understanding, assuming these damages are not remedied, in order to terminate this lease, I next need to wait 10 days before filing a complaint with the DHCR (Real Property Law § 227)? And that only after filing the complaint I'm able to terminate?

More questions around the process itself (sorry there's a lot) - would an email stating my intent to vacate and terminate suffice? Do I need to vacate immediately on the day of sending the notice, or is there a reasonable X-day window that I have to find a new place? Can I charge the moving cost as well (and if so, how do I do that? just forward a copy of the invoice via email)?

Additional details - we have kept a paper trail of management's (lack of) responses and they have made no efforts to remedy damages.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Toshinori Isoai
Toshinori Isoai
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • New City, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Real Property Law § 227 often applies to situations like your building was severely damaged or destroyed and became unfit for living due to reasons you are not responsible for. In that event you may terminate the lease unless your lease advises otherwise.

Your situation based on bad smell of cigarettes and weed may not be relevant to § 227. Mere smell may not be considered "unfit for human habitation" under warranty of habitability theory.

When warranty of habitability is the issue, you mostly likely have the choices of reporting the issue to the government, suing the owner for repairs or handling the repairs yourself and asking for payment from the landlord. Withholding the rent can be justified in some situations, but you will be most likely sued by the landlord for non payment.

I don't know where you are located but many landlords in NYC have their lawyers on standby, and some of the lawyers can be extremely obnoxious and undealable especially if you are a pro se. Before you put the entire issue in the "system", it's strongly recommended that you make the best effort to resolve this matter with the landlord directly.

1 user found this answer helpful

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.