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Is my landlord legally required to fix my windows?

This could pose risks to your safety, so your landlord should be required to make repairs. 

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Question:

My window does not shut all the way and lets the frigid air in, making my apartment very cold: 62 degrees during the day. An easy fix would be to fix the window lock but my landlord won't do it. What are the laws about making a window close all the way?

Answer:

There is no legal language that covers this specific issue, but other New York City laws may apply to your situation and compel your landlord to repair your window, our experts say. 

City laws do not require landlords to put locks on windows, but a window that does not close all the way presents other issues, some of which may be in violation of the Warranty of Habitability

Landlords are required to provide heat and hot water, for instance, and on days when the temperature drops below 55 degrees, the temperature in New York City apartments must be at least 68 degrees between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Overnight, the temperature must be at least 62 degrees. Since your broken window is causing your apartment to be colder than the legal limit, this law may serve you in forcing your landlord to make repairs. 

Potential risks to your safety pose another issue. 

"Depending on what floor you're on, and if the window opens onto a fire escape, this could be an entry point for burglars," says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations (a Brick sponsor). This could also arguably violate your rights to a "livable, safe, and clean apartment" as legally guaranteed by the Warranty of Habitability.

You could also make the argument that the window is allowing rain and snow into the apartment, potentially leading to water damage–a headache no landlord wants to deal with. 

Another law that may be on your side concerns window guards: In any residential building with three or more units, landlords must install guards on windows if there are children under 10 living in the apartment—or if the occupant requests guards for any reason. Requesting that guards be installed may be a way to get the landlord to fix your window while they're at it. 

There are other ways to compel your landlord to make repairs, from putting your request in writing and sending it by certified mail to calling 311 to filing an HP proceeding in housing court. (Read about several different methods here.) 

However, if you're responsible for the problem with the window, you may have to pay to fix it yourself. 

"Generally speaking, landlords are responsible for fixing a broken window belonging to a rental property," says Dennis Hughes, a broker with Corcoran. "But of course there are exceptions. If you broke a window and the landlord can prove it, then the landlord may make the repair but you will have to pay." 


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