Posted by Al Gordon on September 15, 1998 at 17:22:45:
In Reply to: Occassionally No Hot Water posted by John Cristiano on September 15, 1998 at 12:24:14:
The below is valid in NY and probably elsewhere. You're landlord HAS TO provide heat (at a certain time of the year) and hot water (always). You should get as many tenants as you can and get them all to sign a complaint & request to have this hot water problem fixed immediately. This document that you will put together should be mailed certified with return receipt requested to your superintendent or landlord (even if its in the same building). The temerature is getting cold and this would certainly appear to be an emergency to me.
Give him no more than a week on this. This isn't a minor problem.
If he doesn't fix it in a week (from when he signs for the letter) then call NYC Central Complaint Bureau with your problem. If not in NY, try your State's Dept of Housing.
Eventually, a rent strike may be an option buttry to resolve it more simply if possible. SEP 15, 1998
You may find the following document helpful:
DEALING WITH A SLUMLORD. (NYS)
You can deal with a slumlord in two ways. The 'official' way and the 'non-official' way. If you choose non-official, you may want to go through the official motions just to have them in your back pocket. OFFICIAL WAY. First Step. Send a letter certified-with-return-receipt-requested to your landlord clearly stating your complaint detailing the problem(s) and how long it has existed. Also state that you want it corrected immediately. (If you can get a few more tenants in on this it would be helpful but don’t feel that it is necessary). Make sure to put the date on the letter and to sign it. You can have the return-receipt returned to you anywhere you want but make sure that it is clear that it was originally submitted by you, the tenant of your building. Give the landlord a month to start correcting things. If he does nothing, that pretty much indicates that he has no intention to (make any corrections). Second Step. After your month of waiting, call NYC Central Complaint Bureau and make your official complaint by phone. Some stuff may not fall into their jurisdiction and they may refer you to DHCR (Department of Housing and Community Renewal) for you to make official complaints and to seek help. You may have to fill out some complaint forms. You don’t need a lawyer, its easy stuff in English. (Make sure you ask for forms to file for a “rent reduction based on reduced or lack of services”). Third Step. If they don’t get back to you within a month, contact them and be persistent. The more tenants you can get to share in your actions the better, but again, it is not necessary. Fourth Step. As a result of all the above, bureaucratic wheels will be set in motion and your landlord will start to feel pressure to deal with things. This can be a lengthy process and you shouldn’t expect SWAT to come busting your landlord’s door down tomorrow. UNNOFFICIAL WAY. You should pursue the unofficial way while you have already put the official way in motion. Start looking for tenants who share your feelings on the status of the building. Let them know that you want to deal with this problem and that you are planning to start a fuss. (Not a riot). Try to start a Tenants Association. This is easy and TA’s are not registered with the City. You just form it and it exists. If you need help doing this, you should contact entities such as Metropolitan Council on Housing, East Side Tenants Coalition, West Side Tenants Coalition or even check the ‘Organize’ Tab on www.tenant.net’s. It’s a piece of cake. Once you’ve formed your TA make your presence and demands loud & clear rather than secretive & sneaky. Loud & clear works better and should intimidate your slumlord (who thinks that you are all a bunch of idiots, and, who will not be expecting that you would actually take the initiative to deal with him). TIP. A minor investment of a concealed mini tape recorder in your pocket at all times catching a tough-guy landlord (or superintendent) making a threat could only work in your favor. Harrassment by a landlord (or his representatives) carries a stiff fine (a few thousand dollars) if you can prove it. However, don’t feel that it is necessary to make such an investment. EPILOGUE. Many people are of the opinion that municipal agencies such as DHCR are bureaucrats that don’t deal with things and that allow your case to be burried in a historical pile of archives. Often enough that will happen but you shouldn’t be discouraged. I got a building problem dealt with in 3 weeks because I handled it well (by using the motions described above and by getting support from other tenants who had the balls to put their signature on a sheet of paper). We scared the crap out of our to-be-slumlord and put him in his place. You should set the ‘official’ wheels in motion as soon as possible. Get the ball rolling and kick ass.
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