Hello my name Sandra I moved upstate New York at the end of last year. The apartment I live in with my daughter and grandson is a three bedroom apartment that offered us section 8 with the apartment. About a month an a half ago in March of 2016 we had a horrible sewage smell going threw our apartment. It was so bad we had to sleep with the windows open in the winter,and a few days we stayed at a hotel just to get away from the smell. They called in the plumber that original did the plumbing in the complex. This place is brand new I forgot to tell you. He searched for 3 and a half weeks not everyday. We realize that when the heat was turned on the smell was even worse. I emailed the main office and the head management. I was told the problem was being handled, but it wasn't because the plumber didn't know we're the smell was coming from. Because of my family had to stay in a hotel I fell a little behind in my rent payment instead of the beginning of the month I have to give to them at the end. My landlord has been harassing threw her manager she has here at the complex. She has been leaving messages on my phone saying that they are going to start the eviction process.
Given the facts you described and subject to further review of the matter, you have a right to withhold rent until the issue is rectified. To start send a letter return receipt requested explaining the situation, including that you had to stay in a hotel, to your landlord. Also explain that you will withhold all rent in a separate account until the matter is resolved. Make sure to document everything including dates and times of the smell and its negative impact on you and your family. Discuss the matter with your neighbors to see if they have the same problem and see if you can work together with them to pressure your landlord to fix the problem. It's also a good idea to have one or more witnesses to the smell in the apartment. You may also want to contact a local attorney.
Attorney Hecht has given you excellent advice. You should follow it exactly as he has laid out. Good Luck.
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I would consult a local attorney asap.
Please consult or retain a lawyer for your particular issue.
Dear Sandra from Plattsburgh:
New York State law provides all residential tenant a Warranty of Habitability whether set out in your lease or not. Sewer smell as you described is a serious concern. You should have tried to have an inspection from some city office in the apartment when the odor was significant and you needed a hotel. Your section 8 case worker may also have ideas for you.
Read up on your rights as a tenant and about the process involved when the landlord sues for rent withheld or not paid at https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/4jd/plattsburgh_city/civil3.shtml
and be sure to read the guide for tenants at https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/4jd/plattsburgh_city/tenant%20handbook.pdf
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