Dealing With A Faulty Elevator In A New York Apartment Complex: Advice For Tenants

Construction & Contractors Articles

If you live in a large apartment building in New York City, you may rely on the elevator to get access to your home. The occasional fault with an elevator is annoying, but ongoing issues can ruin your quality of life, particularly if you have special needs. If the elevator in your New York apartment block is always faulty, find out what you can do to about the problem.

Landlords' Legal Responsibilities

Landlords in New York must adhere to strict laws about the properties they own. In legal terms, landlords must fulfil an implied warranty of habitability. This warranty covers the structural integrity of the building, but the law also extends to all common areas. What's more, landlords must make sure that all elevators in the complex work safely.

What to Report

If an elevator is faulty, the landlord may take the machine out of service until an engineer can fix it. However, you may sometimes spot signs that the elevator is faulty even if you can still use it. This does not necessarily mean that the elevator car won't move. For example, you should report an elevator as faulty if the car is not level with the floor when you enter or exit. Similarly, you should not use an elevator that stops more than nine inches from a landing.

Elevators in apartment complexes must also have a mirror that allows you to see if anyone is already in the car before you get in. If somebody smashes the mirror, the elevator is faulty and the landlord must repair it.

How to Report Repair Needs

You can take action against a landlord who does not repair a faulty elevator, but you should always make sure that he or she knows about the issue. Problems can sometimes go on for weeks before anyone brings the matter to the landlord's attention, and the authorities expect tenants to take responsibility for reporting problems.

Carefully document the contact you have with your landlord. Keep the date and time of any calls you make, and keep copies of any emails or letters you send. You will need to show the authorities this information before they can take action about a complaint.

Actions you can take against the landlord

If the landlord refuses to repair the elevator, several options are available to you. You can:

  • Withhold your rent until the landlord fixes the elevator
  • Sue the landlord
  • Move out without notice and without having to pay any more rent

Legally, you can also pay for the repairs and then deduct this cost from your rent. However, NYC law may not automatically allow you to do this without taking all reasonable steps to get the landlord to complete the work. What's more, you may not want to pay a bill that runs to thousands of dollars.

If you decide to take this option, you must first try to get the landlord to do the work. You must also keep detailed records that prove the work was necessary, and you must only use a qualified elevator maintenance company. If the repairs inadvertently cause more damage, you could face a lawsuit from the landlord.

Taking action

It's relatively easy to report the problem to the city authorities. In fact, the City of New York website includes a page where you can report a faulty elevator.

You can report the fault anonymously, but the form will still ask for your contact details to keep you updated about progress. You'll need to give details about the borough, building number and street where you live. You'll also need to describe the issue, and give all the information you can about the landlord.

Once the authorities receive this information, they can issue a violation to your landlord. He or she must then act upon the request. Unfortunately, the authorities will not always follow up on these complaints. If this happens, you may need to sue the landlord in Housing Court.

Housing Court Actions normally end with the landlord signing an order to correct the violation. If the landlord doesn't show up for the hearing or fails to carry out the repairs, you can ask the Court for a new date. If the landlord repeatedly ignores a court order, the housing department may pay for the repairs and sue the property owner for the cost.

NYC apartment tenants rely on working elevators. If your elevator is faulty, you may need to take several steps to get your landlord to repair the problem. For more information on maintenance services, contact companies like Capital Elevator Services Inc. 

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19 November 2015

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