No Electricity

    by

    A week ago the single breaker for my apartment kept tripping and would not reset as of 4 days ago. The landlord finally got the super to come yesterday. He replaced the breaker and checked most of the outlets (finding one that had exposed wire possibly arcing) which he replaced, however the breaker still will not hold. The building is old and we have had many other problems in the past, but I am not interested in having a fight with the landlord … I am a single mother with a 2 year old and I can not afford to move right now. But after my pleas to get a licensed electrician to figure out the problem, I only get the super again today who is now looking at the lighting fixtures, etc. I am annoyed and upset with all of this… mostly the lack of refrigerator, and living by candle light. What can I do? How do I “demand” that my landlord fix this?

    Thanks so much for any help.

    5 Replies

    1. Thanks for all the help.

      Landlord had an electrician here today and he inspected everything and determined that the problem is in the walls somewhere and since the wiring is so old he recommended the apartment be re-wired…. especially since all the apartments in the building have only 1 20amp circuit each. He said the job would take about a week once he starts.

      Can I ask for a rent reduction for the 2 weeks (or more) that I don’t have power? Should I try to stay with a friend during this time?… I can’t imagine having a 2 year old around all that work.

    2. And if you do not want to fight with LL – show all this to him before calling 311. Maybe he will comprehend the cost of bringing whole building to the electrical code.

    3. Agree w/ Vinca. You need to stand up for yourself a bit better. I dealt w/ a similar situation in my last rental. Regardless of your situation, how much you are paying in rent, etc., each and every rental lease has an implied warranty of habitability, and your LL has a duty to make these repairs (see: http://bit.ly/hSpgB3). I would recommend that you start documenting the situation by requesting the repairs in writing, and sending it to your LL via certified mail. Early requests need not contain any hostile language or legalese, but merely state the issue in plain words, including the point that it has been x days, weeks, etc. since they’ve been aware of the problems, and that given the safety concerns for you and your child, the issue needs to be resolved immediately.

      If that doesn’t get him moving, you can choose to withhold rent — but this is when things get a bit complicated and you may want to consult an attorney or a housing assistance agency. If you withhold rent w/o documenting just cause, it could be used against you in an eviction proceeding (hence the earlier suggestion to start keeping a written record).

    4. You need to give serious thought to what it means to “fight” with your landlord, and your right to safety, services and habitability. Your LL is in violation of his obligations and the law, and it is seriously unsafe for you to live by candlelight. As above, call 311. Additional info, and resources:
      South Brooklyn Legal Services Housing Law Unit: http://bit.ly/a4J8bH
      Citywide Taskforce on Housing: 212-962-4795, http://bit.ly/ht7ibD
      NYC Guidelines, Quality of Life FAQ: http://bit.ly/9XwQyj
      From that FAQ—Is there a legal amount of electrical input I am entitled to have in my apartment?
      “Your landlord is required to provide sufficient electricity for all items or services listed in your lease and to maintain a safe and habitable apartment. For example, if your lease states that the apartment is provided with an air conditioner, your landlord must provide enough power to run it.
      “If there is an exposed plate or wiring, constant blowing of fuses or evidence of electrical fires or a DECREASE in the amount of power provided to your apartment, you may wish to call HPD Code Enforcement for an inspection.
      “For more information or to request an inspection, call HPD Code Enforcement via the City’s Citizen Service Center by dialing 311. Regarding electrical wiring, you can also contact the Department of Buildings complaints unit by contacting the City’s Citizen Service Center by dialing 311.”

    5. call 311 and report this issue to the city… he will have to provide an electrician after that report