What Is Warranty Of Habitability And Why Every Tenant Needs To Know It?

By: ROS Team

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In NYC, the rental market is quite big and tenets make a huge bulk of it. Authorities have made a detailed program to facilitate them to their best. In the same spirit, a warranty of habitability is offered to the tenants. It aimed to make sure that the tenant may enjoy the basic necessities such as the availability of hot water. To put it simply, it covers all the basics required to sustain a normal life.

It is included in every lease and where it is not categorically mentioned, it is taken understood. There is no way around a warranty of habitability.

Though we do not find the well-incarcerated boundary of what it covers and what is a violation of the code? We may take the help of the court cases to determine what are the red lines in the warranty of habitability?

What Is The Warranty Of Habitability In NYC?

It is seen that some states have made it very clear and have issued details that could be a violation of the warranty. The three requirements for landlords to fulfill under this law in NYC are as follows:

Note: as there are no clear-cut boundaries related to the warranty of habitability, we are taking the help of court decided cases to get some insight.

  • Fit For Human Habitation:

The chief requirement, in this case, is that landlords are supposed to maintain their rental apartments livable according to New York courts. It is also worth noting that a breach is considered even if there were no intentional violations. It was seen in one case that some workers staged a strike for a couple of weeks and left work undone. The tenet pursued the complaint to the court and the court gave the judgment that their warranty of habitability had been breached.

  • Live Up To The Renter’s Reasonable Expectations:

The term seems vague and may swing to any length. It does not mean providing state of the art facilities but the renter’s reasonable expectations shall be met.

In one case when tenet sued because the renter’s air conditioning was not working. The court gave the verdict that the warranty had been violated.

  • Free From Hazards:

Another basic right the tenant is entitled to have an environment free from dangerous or hazardous conditions. Though basic violations do not affect health adversely but giving an environment free of dangerous conditions is mandatory. There are conditions when these basic violations become fatal to health and tenet may sue the management in that scenario.

What Is The Legal Way To Claim Breach Of Warranty Of Habitability?

In some states, the process is very simple and punctuated as to what to do in case of violations and set a time bar to resolve the case. But we do not find such settings in New York state. Given the specificity, the cases revolve around the faculty of the reason for a tenant and the nature of the issue. The court issues a judgment whatever they deem fit as in one case, the court rendered 18 hours a long time than required to fix the issue.

If you are a tenant in New York, the best strategy is to bring in the notice of your landlord or building management in a formal and written expression to fix the problem and keep a proper record of your delivery of notice. It will be helpful in your future to correspond n case your issue is not resolved.

In case, the issue is not resolved even after written notice, the tenant may pursue constructive eviction to come out of the lease agreement and look for options that satisfy his/her requirements.

If A Landlord Does Not Comply With The Warranty Of Habitability:

In case the tenet finds that the landlord is violating the terms and not complying with the warranty of habitability, he does not have to pay rent to a landlord.

In case of landlord pursue the case to court for not paying rent, you do not need to worry much as judges never refuse to entertain tenants by downsizing the unpaid amount given the reasons convince them.

This is a mandatory clause in the lease and the landlord is not entitled to waive it from the lease. If he is found waiving it, he is already violating public policy.

How To Determine A Violation Of The Warranty Of Habitability?

Given the ambiguous nature of the warranty, the fittest way is to self-analysis and introspection that being in the shoes of other persons would you have considered the given complaint any worth?

From the court decision, the following are deemed to be a violation of the Warranty of Habitability.

  • Presence of Asbestos
  • Elevator service is not available
  • Hazard conditions due to Broken Flooring
  • Substantial Piles of Garbage Which Create Health Hazards
  • Fumes and Odors
  • Plumbing Issues
  • Defective Plumbing
  • Poor Security
  • Sewage Leakage and Spills Over
  • Unavailability of Smoke Detectors
  • Issues in Water Service


Final Takeaways:

Warranty of habitability is the tenant’s basic right so you must know about it in detail. As a reminder, keep in mind that the landlord cannot afford to ignore the warranty of habitability.

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