Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Understanding the responsibility of landlords to protect tenants

While occupying rental properties, New York tenants are afforded certain protections when it comes to safety. To be safeguarded against potentially dangerous situations that may be the result of a negligent landlord, tenants should familiarize themselves with their rights.

Metro discusses the recent strategies of the public advocate for New York City to improve living conditions for renters. Shortly after the release of a Worst Landlords Watchlist, which included a Bronx landlord with over 2,300 violations across multiple properties, two pieces of legislation called the “No Eviction by Construction” and “Nuisance Abatement” bills were introduced. The first gives New York’s Department of Buildings the authority to deny permits to building owners who exceed a specific number of code violations. Under the “Nuisance Abatement” legislation, New York’s corporation counsel is allowed to prosecute those who create unsafe housing situations that are hazardous to health. The goal of both bills is to hold negligent landlords more responsible for infractions.  

The State of New York Attorney General also addresses the issue of tenant rights. While the enforceability of law depends on case-specific factors, tenants are given the general right to safe and hygienic housing. Landlords are required to abide by certain responsibilities such as providing heat, water and ventilation, protecting residents from foreseeable danger and crime, equipping elevators with safety mirrors, installing acceptable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, making repairs when necessary and keeping common areas free of garbage and vermin. 

Tenants should also be aware that they have the right to make a complaint to the proper authorities without fear of landlord retaliation. 

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