Apartment Maintenance in NYC Rentals: Who Does What?

When it comes to apartment maintenance, it’s important for tenants to know which problems the landlord is responsible for. Here, we outline the maintenance rights and responsibilities for New York renters.

You still remember the first time you learned all about NYC apartment maintenance. You were getting ready for a British-themed Downton Abbey marathon viewing party you were throwing at your apartment. Shepherd’s pies were heating in the oven, Cornish pasties were cooling on the table, and the Chardonnay was chilling in the fridge. All that was left was for you to clean your wine glasses — but when you went to turn on the tap water in the kitchen sink, nothing came out except black sludge. In a panic, you called your landlord, who immediately swooped in for the rescue. Your sink was fixed, and the party was saved. But the situation made you wonder what you would have done had your landlord refused to take care of your maintenance issue.

By law, your landlord is supposed to provide you with a living environment that is structurally sound, safe, and up to code. Listed below are the types of apartment maintenance tasks that a landlord is responsible for, as well as the kinds of problems you’re going to have to fix on your own.

What Your Landlord is Responsible For

  • Your landlord is required by law to make sure that the building is in working order — e.g., hallways must be well-lit, electrical systems must be safely installed and up to code, and plumbing systems must be running smoothly.
  • Your landlord is required to make sure that the public areas of your building are kept completely clean, clutter-free, and in “good repair,” to help ensure that there are no public health hazards.
  • Your landlord must respond to and resolve insect or rodent infestations in a timely manner.
  • Under New York City Administrative Code, your landlord is required to give your apartment a fresh coat of paint every three years. This doesn’t prevent you from painting your apartment sooner (unless your lease forbids it, that is); it just means that the landlord can’t let the apartment languish with dingy walls.

What You Are Responsible For

  • You’re responsible for maintaining your apartment in a safe and clean manner. This means no overloading of the circuits with your electronics or being lax with things like keeping your home clean. If it turns out that the cockroach infestation that plagued the building last month was as a result of negligence on your part, you could find a little note containing a bill attached to your door.
  • You’re to make sure that neither you, the other people who live in your apartment, nor your guests create issues that can cause maintenance issues in the building.
  • You’re responsible for making sure that the trash is sorted properly. The landlord could end up getting a fine if you don’t.

Familiarize yourself with the law — and your lease — so when catastrophe strikes in your home, you’ll know whether you or your landlord is responsible for the apartment maintenance.

Image Source: Flickr


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