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.
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.
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