As a tenant, you deserve a habitable rental unit. While most landlords have great intentions, sometimes things slip through the cracks. Other times, some landlords are negligent. If your landlord is not making necessary repairs to keep your apartment or home in a habitable condition, then you might need to take some action to get it done.
First, you should determine that it is a major problem, it is not your fault, you are paying rent and following state rules about notifying your landlord. If you meet these conditions and there is still a dispute between you and your landlord, here are some of your options.
1. Inform housing inspectors
The problem you are dealing with may be violating a local or state housing law. If this is the case, you can contact the appropriate agency. The inspector will then investigate the situation and give the landlord a notice and deadline to complete necessary repairs.
2. Repair and deduct
In New York, you have the right to hire a repair person to remedy a serious problem that is making your apartment unfit and deduct the expenses from your rent. Before you hire someone and assume you can deduct the maintenance, make sure you follow appropriate procedures and the problem is serious enough.
3. Suing your landlord
If your rental space is truly uninhabitable, you might decide to file a lawsuit. You should only consider this option if it is not detrimental to your safety. For example, you might want to sue the landlord and continue living there if there is a leaky roof in one room, but you probably would not want to continue living there and pursuing a lawsuit if you have no heat during the winter.
You should not make any of these decisions lightly or without legal counsel. You can read more about your rights as a tenant in this Forbes article.