Neighbor's toilet water is leaking into my home. Landlord doesn't care.
December 3, 2013 8:38 AM Subscribe
Brown water from the apartment upstairs occasionally leaks into my apartment and its light fixtures. The landlord and super won't fix the plumbing until that tenant moves out. What can I do about this? Withhold rent? Break my lease? Something else? I understand that YANML, but some help with NYC tenants rights would be good right now.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Brown water from upstairs fills our light fixtures and leaks down the heat pipe and walls every few weeks, and I can't take it anymore.
When this happened about two months ago, the (newish) super told us it was because the upstairs neighbor's toilet overflowed. The super is denying that it's a plumbing problem and insists that the neighbor is just making their toilet overflow...on purpose? Through neglect? No idea. But, basically, he has told us that there's nothing he can do about it. In our bathroom, the floor and walls are all tile. So it's hard to imagine how water from an overflowing toilet would easily get past that in a matter of seconds, which is how quickly our light fixtures fill up when something like this happens. When asked about that, the super said, "Water always finds a way." I don't know if the neighbor's bathroom is as well-tiled as ours, though, since his family has had that lease since the 90s (from what I was told by the previous super), and the landlord won't renovate until this neighbor leaves.
When it happened again a few weeks ago, the neighbor came down to tell us that it was an accident and that he's having plumbing problems, but that he can't ask the super to fix it because the landlord was trying to evict him.* He told us he wasn't doing it on purpose, he's very sorry, etc.
Then it happened again tonight, and the super basically just gave the ol' "What are ya gonna do?" shrug and said he'll let the landlord know that we're unhappy.
So what can we do? If we decide to leave before the end of our lease, could we reasonably expect our deposit back? Could we withhold rent or subtract from rent the cost of the dozens of lost light bulbs and stress of living in someone else's toilet water? Is there some tenants-rights or health-code authority we could contact to help fix this problem? Are we just going to have to suck it up until our lease ends?
Things to note:
1) Once again, I'm in New York City, so NYC laws apply.
2) This has been a problem since we moved in. At one point, the damage was so bad that the ceiling collapsed in the bathroom.
3) For the first few months, the landlord told us it was bath water from this neighbor's old tub. But then the plumbers discovered a pipe leaking from one of the top floors. We had a few problem-free months after that was fixed, but the brown water returned this summer.
4) I'm pregnant and expecting to deliver two months before our lease is up. Exposing a baby to this is less than ideal. So if there's a way to get out earlier with less damage to our own finances, I'd love to hear about it.
5) This landlord is basically the only reference we'd have for future NYC apartments, so, unfortunately, it's important not to burn this bridge.
6) Other than this problem and the occasional noisy nights (just a lot of loud talking at all hours), we have nothing against this neighbor and are not interested in adding to his eviction problems.
*This is why I'm posting anonymously. The landlord has taken him to court.