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Maintenance failure contributed to deadly NYC apartment fire


New York City residents have the right to live in safe and habitable rental properties. There are laws and regulations that aim to protect this right, including laws that detail landlord obligations regarding safety requirements, as well as agencies such as the New York City Housing Authority that monitor safety measures.

Tragically, a maintenance worker employed by the New York City Housing Authority failed to comply with the basic duties of his job and such failure may have contributed to the death of two young children in a Bronx apartment fire. The worker falsely reported that smoke detectors were working inside an apartment building, and, subsequently, there was a fire at the building in which two young children died. The worker was at the apartment that caught fire just four hours before the fire started and reported on his work order that of the apartment's required safety features, which included smoke detectors, all six features were "satisfactory."

Significantly, a recent city report reveals that there may be a pattern of safety failures by the NYC Housing Authority. The NYC Department of Investigation checked 240 apartments in the city and determined that carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors were absent in 40 of the 136 apartments for which it had documentation. Documentation for an additional 104 housing units could not be located.

Alarmingly, many NYC Housing Authority maintenance workers reported that in their review of smoke detectors they do not perform a physical check of the smoke detector, but rather look to see if the detector's light is operating.

If you believe you are living in an unsafe rental property with dangerous maintenance needs, you may wish to consult with an attorney. No New York City resident wants such a tragic event to happen again.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "City Probe Faults New York City Housing Authority for Safety Lapses," Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Oct. 4, 2016

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