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Broken pipes, mice and an unresponsive NYC landlord

Posted by Dean on February 24, 1999 at 21:47:34:

Please stick with us--this is a long, but interesting, explanation of a
crazy situation. We are sub-leasing a co-op apartment. The "landlord" in
this case refers to the management company that leases the apartment from
the co-op and to us. We pay our rent directly to them and they contract
their own team to make repairs.

On a Sunday morning this past January, I awoke to boiling hot water gushing
from the pipe beneath my kitchen sink. The pipe had broken off from its
connection, and, despite my best efforts to hold it back in place for the
better part of an hour (my wife was attempting to locate the super or the
management company), eventually the water scalded me and I had to let go.
Before the super was finally located, about 1.5 inches of steaming water
had flooded my living room. Several things were damaged.

Once the super was able to turn off the water, he took one look under the
sink and told us that the pipe had been soldered on poorly. The plumber
sent in for the repair the next day said the same thing.

Apparantly, the poor plumbing job was put in place over the summer, after
I contacted the landlord to come in and investigate what I suspected to be
holes behind the sink cabinet. Between November 1997 and July 1998, my wife\
and I caught about 10 mice. After repeated phone calls, our landlord
finally sent someone out to fill up all of the holes. They came while we
were at work, and while the cabinet was pulled out, they reworked some of
the plumbing without telling us.

When the plumber came in January to fix the bad soldering job and pulled
out the cabinet, I was horrified to find many, many holes behind the sink.
The landlord had, in fact lied to us and not fixed the wall in the summer
as they claimed. This explains why we continued to have mice problems,
at least 6 more since the July "repair". (We took video and photos of the

My wife took the day off of work after that to ensure that the holes were
filled (by the building super, not the landlord's people). Once we were
finally able to contact someone in the landlord's office, we were told to
estimate our damages and send them in. Our estimate came to approx. $3000.
Since then, it has been a struggle to get them to call us back. We did not
pay February rent ($1450). Finally, two weeks ago, someone at the office
called and left a message on our answering service that he was authorized
to offer us $1500 remuneration and that he was sending us a letter to that
effect. We never recieved the letter and continued phone messages to them
have gone unanswered.

At this point we are unsure as to what to do. Today I received notice in
the mail that they would not be renewing our lease at the end of June. Not
a problem, since we are planning on moving out of state mid-May. How
do we go about breaking our lease in all this mess? Should we continue to
withold rent? Should we take them to court?

Thanks so much in advance for sticking with me through this long e-mail.
Any advice/info is appreciated.

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