Do You Know When Your NY Landlord Is Liable for Your Storm Injury?
Finding a nice, sizable and affordable apartment to rent in New York is a feat in and of itself. Once you find this Holy Grail and sign the lease, though, it’s important to know what your rights are as a tenant.
In a letter prefacing the Tenants’ Rights Guide, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman writes:
“The contract between a tenant and landlord…is one of the most common and important deals that are made across our state. It defines how renters will enjoy their homes, how owners will maintain their property, it can affect a neighborhood’s stability. That’s why it’s important that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities under the law. In New York State, there are several different laws governing this relationship, and they can be different depending upon the county or town you live in.”
Not only understanding your rights as a tenant, but also your responsibilities – as well as your landlord’s responsibilities – per the terms of your lease, is imperative in the event that a situation arises.
You should know what is permitted or prohibited when it comes to all aspects of living in your apartment, but perhaps the most important thing to be aware of is your landlord’s duty of repair when it comes to safety and habitability. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria, it’s necessary to know whether your landlord can be held responsible if you sustain a storm-related injury.
A New York Landlord’s Duty of Repair
In our state, landlords of multiple dwellings are required to:
- Keep the public areas of apartments and buildings in “good repair.”
- Keep the apartments and public areas clean and free of vermin, garbage, or other offensive material.
- Maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating and ventilating systems and appliances installed by the landlord (refrigerators, stoves, etc.) in good and safe working order.
If these standards are not met, the landlord must make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time frame. Depending on the severity of the repairs needed, however, that time frame can vary.
What happens, then, if your landlord doesn’t fulfill his or her duty of repair and you’re injured as a result?
If your landlord was negligent in its responsibilities and you were injured because of that negligence, you might be able to sue for money damages.
In these situations, you will have to demonstrate generally two main elements:
- The landlord was negligent in repairing a hazardous condition.
- The landlord’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury.
For example, let’s say the handrail in your apartment building’s stairwell is broken. It’s been broken for weeks, but the landlord has yet to make repairs despite complaints from a few tenants. One day, you’re walking down the stairs and reach for the handrail. Because it’s broken, though, you don’t have a firm grasp and you fall down the steps, breaking your arm.
Is the landlord liable for damages related to this injury?
Let’s look at the elements:
- If the landlord knew or should have known (due to the length of time of the defect) about the broken handrail but didn’t repair it, its actions could be considered negligent.
- Your broken arm in this scenario was directly caused by the landlord’s negligence in not fixing the handrail.
So using these elements and this particular scenario, you would be able to sue your landlord and claim the building owner and/or manager was responsible for your injuries.
What if this occurs during a storm, though?
Storm-Related Injuries in a NY Apartment
If you are injured in your apartment building because of a storm, you will still need to show that your injuries were caused by the landlord’s negligence.
Let’s say everything in your apartment building is in safe working order but a storm comes and soaks the floor of the lobby. If you slip and fall in the lobby due to the slick surface during the storm and are injured, you may not be able to sue your landlord depending on the particular circumstances of your incident.
However, if the front door was broken prior to the storm and that broken door allowed rain to get into the building, you might have a case if you slip and fall and sustain injuries. In this scenario, the landlord could possibly be found negligent for not repairing the door before the storm hit.
If you are injured in your apartment building, regardless of whether a storm was involved, reach out to an experienced New York personal injury lawyer today to determine if you’re entitled to compensation.
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