tell me your experiences with housing court in nyc
February 27, 2013 8:00 AM Subscribe
I would like to take my landlord (really, management company, I guess?) to housing court because I haven't had heat for ten days (and counting) and hot water for ~five, and I would like a rent abatement for the days of this month in which my apartment was not inhabitable. Have you taken someone to housing court in NYC? Please tell me your experiences and any advice you have.
My situation: Apparently, the boiler broke. This was Sunday the 17th. No heat and no hot water. I spoke to the management company on Monday, and they promised the issue would be fixed within the next two days. I inquired about a portable boiler that you sometimes see outside an apartment building when an apartment building suffers a situation such as this, and he said "it will be fixed before that could even arrive." So, they brought everyone a space heater. I moved temporarily to a friend's place a few blocks away, because I have two cats and I was uneasy leaving a space heater on while I went to work.
Tuesday, a sign came up that announced the boiler would be fixed on Friday.
Friday, the boiler was not fixed. No heat, no hot water. I called 311, and I left a message on the management company's machine. Someone called me back late that night from a blocked number and said the heat would be on the next day, Saturday, and that the hot water was already back. I asked what time on Saturday, and he wouldn't give me a time, but said he'd call the next day.
Saturday, no heat, no call.
Sunday, no heat, but hot water returned.
Monday, no heat. Monday, a Notice of Violation from the city was posted in the building's atrium, along with angry signs and petitions from tenants.
Tuesday, I went to the building again at 11am or so, and there was heat! So I moved back into my own apartment. By that night, however, the heat was gone again.
What I want: I want to not pay rent for the days my apartment was basically uninhabitable because it was freezing (their space heater, even if I'd used it, was not large enough to heat the entire apartment). I also want the heat turned back on now. My lease stipulates that I am not allowed to withhold rent for any reason, so I figure my option is: housing court.
What I want to know: What was housing court like? It says you don't need a lawyer--I am not a lawyer, but I feel fairly comfortable dealing with Kafkaesque bureaucracy--but do I actually need a lawyer? What will happen when I file, step by step? Tell me your experiences, please. If this is a bad idea, talk me out of it and tell me what else to do. ("Move" is not an option at this point--my lease is up in September and I'll move then, but I really want my $6000 security deposit back and it is iffy I can get it if I break the lease).
What a world.