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Rent reimbursement in building with a gas leak

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Rent reimbursement in building with a gas leak

Postby jayness 54 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:13 pm

Hello,

The building I am living in experienced a gas leak in early May. The gas was immediately shut off until Con Edison was able to repair the leak. While the gas was turned off, the building was without hot water for 1 1/2 weeks, and without a working stove, oven, or heated dryer for 6-8 weeks. Gas is included in our rent, and we paid our rent upfront for the months of May and June, even though we were without gas for the majority of the month of May. Gas was restored to some apartments this week, but there are still apartments in the building that are without it.

I emailed my property manager asking if the tenants would be reimbursed for the money we paid upfront for gas. I received a response that said that delay in restoring gas was due to Con Edison and out of their control, and because of this, the tenants would not be receiving any reimbursement.

I can understand that the delay in restoring gas was due to Con Edison, but Con Edison surely was not responsible for the leak happening in the first place - am I correct in thinking this? Is it not management's responsibility to ensure that all the gas pipes in the building are well and in good condition? Do you think the tenants of our building should be reimbursed?

Any advice or thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

Thank you!
jayness 54
 
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Re: Rent reimbursement in building with a gas leak

Postby TenantNet » Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:48 pm

Gas leaks can occur in any number of places, or for any number of reasons, but in the long run what matters is getting the gas back on again. Con Ed has the obligation to turn off gas to the building once a leak is discovered, and will make repairs in any gas lines leading to the building. But it is the building owner's responsibility to repair lines inside the building. Con Ed will not allow the gas back on until tests are performed throughout the building.

It seems in your building they have combined gas for heat/hot water with cooking gas for stoves. Most buildings I've seen separate the two where gas (or more usually oil) for the heat/hot water is included in the rent while tenants pay Con Ed separately for cooking gas.

But even in the latter's case, where tenants pay for cooking gas, the LL must provide the service of safe lines so the gas can get to your stoves.

It can take some time for any repairs to be made (they must be approved by the Dept. of Buildings) and tests to be performed. However, many landlords take their time in getting it done.

But for heat/hot water, there are portable mobile boilers that can be rented by building owners. You see these in self-enclosed trucks with pipes running into buildings. So other than 1-2 days, there's really no excuse for not having heat/hot water.

When a LL claims the delay is due to Con Edison, it's usually a lie. I say, prove it. But even if there's some delay not caused by the landlord, in our view that does not matter. It may take some digging, but you can often find out from Con Ed and/or the Dept. of Buildings what is causing the delay. You won't get this from Cutomer Service, you will need to dig into the bureaucracy.

In the end the LL should give you an abatement, usually as a percentage of your rent, for the time you were without services.

First, put together a tenant association to act together. Put in complaints to DOB, Con Ed and HPD and get violations on record. You can file rent reductions with DHCR and consider withholding rent, which would trigger non-payment cases for which you can assert warranty of habitability violations. Get a legal consultation on the rent withholding and consider doing these things with multiple tenants.
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Re: Rent reimbursement in building with a gas leak

Postby jayness 54 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:39 am

Thank you very much for all of this information. It was certainly helpful and I appreciate it!
jayness 54
 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:11 pm


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