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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 09-05
Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Press Contact: Neill McG. Coleman (212) 863-8076


KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AS A TENANT

Q&A With the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Q. WHOM SHOULD I NOTIFY IF MY APARTMENT IS IN NEED OF REPAIRS?
A. You should first notify your landlord or managing agent of any housing maintenance problems, such as leaks, peeling paint, vermin, and inadequate heat/hot water. If the landlord and/or managing agent does not respond and correct the problem within a reasonable amount of time, you should then file a complaint with the City's Citizen Service Center by dialing 311. It is a good idea to put all notices to your landlord and/or managing agent in writing and mail them via certified mail. You are also encouraged to document and take pictures of all conditions and to keep copies of all letters and notices both to and from your landlord as well as from the City.

Q. WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER I FILE A HOUSING MAINTENANCE COMPLAINT WITH 311?
A. After you file a housing maintenance complaint with 311, a notice of complaint will be generated and mailed to your landlord or managing agent. An acknowledgement of the complaint will be mailed to you. You should keep the acknowledgement for your records. If the complaint involves an emergency condition (such as no heat or no electricity) the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will call your landlord or managing agent to provide additional notice of the complaint. HPD will also call you, the complainant, to verify whether the emergency condition still exists. If you cannot be reached, or tell the HPD caller that the condition still exists, a uniformed housing inspector may be dispatched. Your landlord will not be told when the inspection will occur.

Q. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN THE HOUSING INSPECTOR ARRIVES AT MY APARTMENT?
A. After arriving at your apartment, the uniformed housing inspector will inspect the conditions described in your complaint. Violations will be issued for conditions that violate the New York City Housing Maintenance Code or New York State Multiple Dwelling Law and that are observed by the housing inspector.


Q. WHAT CAN I DO IF MY LANDLORD REFUSES TO MAKE REPAIRS OR CORRECT VIOLATIONS IN MY APARTMENT?
A. If your landlord refuses to make repairs to your apartment, you can bring a case against your landlord in housing court. This type of case is called an HP ("Housing Part") Action. HP Actions are lawsuits brought by tenants or groups of tenants against landlords to force them to make repairs and provide essential services such as heat and hot water. You do not need a lawyer to start an HP Action. The fee to initiate an HP Action may be waived under certain circumstances. If you wish to start an HP Action against your landlord, go to the clerk's office at the housing court. For more information on Housing Court call the Citywide Task force on Housing Court at 212-862-4795 (Mon-Fri between 2pm and 5pm) or call 311.

If you are a rent regulated tenant (i.e. rent stabilized or rent controlled) you may apply for a rent reduction with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). The reduction is not automatic and is calculated according to the services you have not received. You can reach DHCR via 311.

Q: CAN MY LANDLORD ENTER MY APARTMENT AT ANY TIME?
A: Generally no. However, a landlord may enter your apartment in some situations. For example, generally, the landlord can enter your apartment:
1) At a reasonable time after providing reasonable notice if the entry is either
· To provide necessary or agreed upon repairs or services, or
· In accordance with the lease, or
· To show the apartment to prospective tenants or purchasers; and
2) In an emergency (such as a fire) at any time and without notice.

Q: AM I ENTITLED TO HAVE MY APARTMENT PAINTED?
A: Yes, the landlord must paint occupied apartments in multiple dwellings (buildings with three or more apartments) every three years. (NYC Administrative Code §27-2013).

Q: I'VE HEARD ABOUT A NEW LAW ON LEAD PAINT. WHAT DOES IT SAY?
A: The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act is intended to protect children from swallowing lead paint chips and dust. Lead can harm a child's health, learning and behavior. The law applies to certain types of apartments: those in buildings built before 1960 (or between 1960 and 1978 if your landlord knows the building contains lead paint) with three or more apartments and where a child under seven lives. If your landlord knows that a child under seven lives in your apartment, they must inspect your apartment for peeling paint and other lead paint hazards at least once a year. Contact your landlord if you see peeling paint or other unsafe conditions. Your landlord must then check your apartment and safely fix any hazards found. Be sure to fill out and return the annual notice from your landlord asking if you have a child under seven in your apartment. The notices are sent out in early January. More information on the procedures for inspection and clean-up are available at www.nyc.gov/hpd


Q: THE BUILDING OWNER SAYS THAT A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTING DEVICE MUST BE INSTALLED IN MY APARTMENT AND THAT I MUST PAY FOR IT. IS THAT TRUE?
A: In nearly all cases the owner must install a carbon monoxide detecting device in your apartment and the owner can require you to pay $25 to reimburse the cost of the installation. It is your obligation to maintain that device and to replace it if it is missing or inoperable. Certain limited exceptions do apply. They are listed on HPD's website at www.nyc.gov/hpd.

Q: HOW DO I CONTACT HPD FOR MORE INFORMATION?
A: Tenants and building owners seeking more information about the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) may call 311 to request a copy of "Questions and Answers About Housing Rules and Regulations for Tenants" or go to www.nyc.gov/hpd




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