New York tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards and is in good repair. If a landlord fails to take care of important maintenance, such as a leaky roof or a broken heater, you have several important legal rights, including:
Before you can withhold rent or use the repair and deduct remedy, make sure that the circumstances justify you paying less rent and that you comply with state legal requirements on things like notice you must provide your landlord. Check New York state law (see resources below) on the following:
For an overview of New York landlord-tenant law, including your rights to habitability, see ag.ny.gov.
For state laws on rent withholding, see N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 235-b; N.Y. Mult. Dwell. Law § 302-a (applies to all cities with populations of 400,000 or more); N.Y. Mult. Res. Law § 305-a (applies to cities with populations of less than 500,000 and all towns and villages); Semans Family Ltd. Partnership v. Kennedy, 675 N.Y.S.2d 489 (N.Y. City Civ.Ct.1998).
For state law on repair and deduct, see N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 235-b and Jangla Realty Co. v. Gravagna 447 N.Y.S.2d 338 (Civ. Ct., Queens County, 1981).
For state law prohibiting landlord retaliation, see N.Y. Real. Prop. Law § 223-b.
As with many areas of law in New York, it's important to check your local laws and procedures. Specifically, the laws in New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester often differ from state law.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.
Also, check your local housing ordinances for any city or county rules that cover tenant rights when it comes to repairs (especially if you live in rental property that is covered by rent regulation or rent stabilization). Contact your local building or housing authority. To find yours, call your mayor or city manager's office or check your city or county website.