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elevator out of service for 2 months

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elevator out of service for 2 months

Postby nkundina » Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:41 pm

Hello,

we are living at the rent-regulated building. Our elevator is out of order for the second month with no plans of fixing it. My family is fine as we are healthy and pretty young . But we have many elderly in the building. The guy next door is in the wheel chair and he is literally jailed to his apartment and cant even see his doctor. Another case is that we had to call fire department to take ill women to the hospital from 5th floor. My heart is broken. If anyone can help with legal advise, i would really appreciate it. What options we are as tenants community have? Do we still pay rent? Go to the news? Go to the court? what is the best way to fight? Any links to related laws would also help, so i can dive in into details.

Thank you
nkundina
 
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Re: elevator out of service for 2 months

Postby TenantNet » Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:21 pm

"No plans to fix it..." so what does that mean? Has the LL been notified by letter? Have you lodged a complaint to 311 - and if so, have they sent inspectors? You could file for a rent reduction with DHCR, but that takes time. You could file an HP Action in Housing Court, but I'm not certain what cases are being heard right now. We hear different things every day on what the courts are doing. Do you have a tenant group? You could organize a rent strike. How effective that would be given that many tenants are not able to pay rent right now, that's hard to say. If you or a group withhold rent, I would consult with a tenant attorney if you are able to do so.

You could also start calling your elected officials (city council, assembly member and state senator) and community board and put pressure in that direction.

Yes, you can go to the news as well. A lot will depend whether the LL is sensitive to bad publicity.

Bottom line, the LL must provide a working elevator. The above are general thoughts. Details of the building and its location might suggest other actions.
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Re: elevator out of service for 2 months

Postby nkundina » Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:30 pm

Thank you very much for your response. I would like to clarify a couple of points:
1. Elevator is out of order since January 12th. LL is claiming because of Corona he cant get it repaired - replacement parts cant be delivered fast. I ma not sure if this is true.
2.The building is in Brooklyn in Kings county - if this information is helpful.
3. rent reduction with DHCR - should it be filed by each apartment or can be filed collectively by tenants?
4. Tenant group - should it be a legal entity or can be informal organization in the building?
5. If we decide not to pay the rent. The decision should be made by the tenant organization or can be done by each apartment? I understand, this option can't be done without a lawyer . Does it mean we will have to pay our rents back when elevator is fixed? Also, can this option be considered without a court? or eventually this matter should go through court in order for us not to pay it back?

Thanks again for your advise.
nkundina
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 2:01 am

Re: elevator out of service for 2 months

Postby TenantNet » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:53 pm

1. I don't think that's true at all. In things like elevators, either parts are custom made, or sitting in a warehouse. But COVID would not likely stop either.

3. Building-Wide rent reductions can be filed by groups of individual tenants ... each has to sign the complaint. It's building-wide because it's a building-wide service (not because it affects all tenants). A single tenant can file a building-wide complaint. But only tenants who sign are then parties, and would get the benefits of a rent freeze. But understand that DHCR can sometimes take years to resolve.

Get the right forms from the DHCR web site. https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files?file=do ... ilding.pdf

and

https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documen ... mation.pdf

4. Tenant groups can be legal and incorporated, or informal unincorporated. Good to get a bank account in the group's name and a Federal EIN. A tenant group represents only those tenants who agree ... some might not.

Other actions, i.e., HP Action in Housing Court, Action in Supreme Court, press, rent strike, etc. are generally independent of each other, meaning you can do more than one.

In the old days DHCR had exclusive jurisdiction over service reduction cases, but that might have changed. But understand that a DHCR case is not the same thing as an HP Action in Housing Court, which complaints LL is not complying with obligation for Warranty of Habitability (DHCR complaints are for lack of service - even if the service is working).

5. Participants in a rent strike must agree to it, but you can have a small percentage of the building's tenants withholding rent. More people = more pressure on LL. Lawyers are not required, but legal advice is recommended.

With a rent strike we can't emphasize enough that the money has to be put in escrow and not spent. This is even more important now with the pressures of COVID as some might spend the rent money on other needs.

Some groups will hire a lawyer and the lawyer will keep the money in an escrow account. Make sure it's a tenant attorney, not some guy down the street who handles other types of cases mostly (tenant attorneys advertise on this site - but there are tenant attorneys who are non-advertisers).

Lawyers have fiduciary duties as to escrow, but it's not unknown for them to screw up. Other ways is for the tenant group itself to set up escrow (NOT recommended), or each tenant to handle their own withholding, however LLs will try to pick off individual tenants. You do not want to be in the position of being responsible for other people's money no matter how honest you feel you are.

As for back rent, probably some, but with or without court, a settlement can be made. After all you will have been without this vital service for some time. This is where a good lawyer helps. If the LL take tenants to court in a non-payment, tenants can assert as a defense violation of the warranty of habitability, and than courts often provide for a one-time abatement, usually a percentage of the withheld rent.
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Re: elevator out of service for 2 months

Postby nkundina » Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:34 pm

Thank you very much! This is very helpful.
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