New York City landlords have legal responsibilities for providing safe apartments for tenants. While the following information is for informational purposes only, in general tenants are entitled to have a safe, clean and livable apartment under the warranty of habitability, which is implicit in every residential lease for apartments and public areas, whether oral or written. Landlords must, for example, provide hot water and heat on a regular basis and rid apartments of insect infestation. Landlords must keep apartments and public areas in good repair and clean. In some circumstances, tenants may make necessary repairs, such as repairing a lock on a door, and deduct reasonable repairs from the rent.
Landlords are also required to protect against the threat of lead poisoning to children. For multiple-unit dwellings constructed either prior to 1960, or those built between 1960 and 1978 in which the landlord is aware lead paint was used, the landlord must determine whether a child age 6 or younger is living in the dwelling and perform an inspection for lead hazards.
Landlords must install safety devices such as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide in designated areas. Landlords have to place peepholes to the entrance door of each apartment. Elevator mirrors must be placed in self-service elevators so that residents can see if someone else is in the elevator before entering.
New York City mandates the installation of window guards approved by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in every apartment where a child under 10 resides or where a tenant requests the guards. These widow guards are also required in every public hallway.
Landlords must take certain precautions to protect against criminal harm that can reasonably be foreseen. They may be held liable if a criminal took advantage of a failure to properly-maintained condition where the harm was reasonably foreseeable. Tenants of multiple unit dwellings with at least eight units have the right to keep a lobby attendant service for their protection, as well as employing security personnel on their own whenever any landlord-provided security attendant is not on-the-job.
In addition to the premises liability for criminal harm, other negligence may expose landlords to monetary damages for any harm caused to tenants and their guests. Those who have suffered a premises accident due to a landlord’s negligence may want to pursue reasonable compensation.
Source: New York State Attorney General, “Tenants’ Rights Guide,” Accessed Oct. 27, 2014.