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Question about Warranty of Habitability and Lease Breaks

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Question about Warranty of Habitability and Lease Breaks

Postby cybergreen7 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:58 am

Signed a 22 month lease through a broker with a large apartment complex, but upon moving into apartment, discovered several problems, key among them:

1) Apartment smaller than broker represented (630 sq ft instead of ~900 sq ft)
2) Persistent smell of cigarette smoke in bathroom and bedrooms (from hallway fuse box)
3) Erratic or absent front door security, allowing unrestricted access to building

There were also a number of smaller issues in the apartment (broken intercom, missing bathtub drain handle, construction noise outside & concrete dust coming through windows)

We notified the management and brokers immediately upon moving in, technically 1 day before the least was dated to start, of these concerns and our desire to terminate the lease immediately. No initial response from management. We requested brokers to relist the apt and help find a subleaser to take over lease. After additional follow ups, the management said they were aware of the situation from the broker, but took no other action. None of the issues have been resolved. In response, we filed a 311 complaint for the smoke issue.

Initial DHCR inspector came while we were at work this week, so had to reschedule next day. When we called to reschedule, DHCR said someone had called earlier that day to cancel the inspection, and had given my apartment info and phone number, but it was not me. Only other party that would know about this is management. Called and rescheduled inspection. Also send management second letter outlining these unresolved issues, additional secondary issues, as well as noting apparent attempt to prevent an inspection. Stated we intended to terminate the lease and vacate the apt at end of month.

Are these legitimate grounds to claim that the warranty of habitability has not been met by the management company? If we break the lease and move out, would this be a reasonable action to a housing judge, given our various attempts to resolve the issue?

Thanks for any advice or feedback.
cybergreen7
 
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Re: Question about Warranty of Habitability and Lease Breaks

Postby TenantNet » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:11 am

You posted in the non-regulated forum, yet you say DHCR inspector came. The inspector will come only if you have filed a service reduction complaint. Have you done that? And are you rent stab? And it's unlikely DHCR would have responded so quickly. They just don't.

How did you get a 22-month lease? For RS tenants, leases are 12 or 24 months.

As to size, didn't you see the unit before signing the lease? You would know how large it is.

As to smoking, people have different sensitivities to smoke. Some people wouldn't even notice. And the source of smoke can be difficult to pinpoint. In older buildings, smoking is not prohibited for all tenants. New buildings usually have blanket prohibitions. It certainly isn't illegal to smoke. It depends on how it was represented to you prior to signing the lease.

What do you mean by lack of front door security? Is that a broken bell/buzzer? Or no doorman/guard when one is required? What do other tenants say about that? Not all buildings require doormen/guards. Again, it depends on how it was represented. For buildings with RS tenants, it might be a required service. If it's erratic, then you need to keep a running tally when the entrance is being covered.

As to warranty of hab, that wouldn't apply to size of the unit, but might to the other complaints. If you do move out, make sure you return keys to LL (not the super) and have a witness. Make sure you document the act of moving out and reasons why. Ask the LL for a walk-through to list any damages. Do everything on paper and for the important documents, send certified mail RRR.
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Re: Question about Warranty of Habitability and Lease Breaks

Postby cybergreen7 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:16 am

Thanks for the initial reply.

Yes, sorry about the confusion on my part, it was not DHCR but HPD that came. The apt is not RS or any other system, and the inspector came in response to the 311 Ventilation complaint (for smoke), about a week after filing the initial complaint.

Only one of the two tenants saw the place in person, but the broker had told the other tenant who had not visited the apt that it was approx 900 sq ft., whereas we were moving out of a 630 sq ft place and looking for something larger. The layout of the apt with 2 rooms and a balcony gave me the impression that it was larger than 650 sq ft.

Prior to renting, we were told by the broker that the building had a security desk at the front entrance, which was staffed during the showing of the apartment, but since moving in there have been multiple instances at all hours of the day when no security is present, and even when they are present, they allow anyone to freely enter, resident or not, without signing in or presenting any other information as to why they are in the building.
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Re: Question about Warranty of Habitability and Lease Breaks

Postby TenantNet » Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:13 am

HPD can lodge a violation based on an inspection, but that is all it is. You can use the violation as a defense in Housing Court, or with a HP Proceeding, also in Housing Court.

On size, next time bring a measuring tape. I honestly don't know if you have a cause of action in court against the LL or broker. You might. But since one of the tenants saw the place, it would likely be hard to win such a case.

As for security and other amenities, you need to get that in writing and as part of the lease. Landlords and brokers often make false claims about buildings.

Seems you were expecting some sort of luxury palace. Sorry, but this is NYC and Landlord fibs are systemic.

Not being rent regulated (perhaps you should look into whether you actually should be RS), your options are limited: court proceeding, or move out. The latter might result in the LL commencing a case against you for the unpaid rent.
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