Q: I live in a Park Slope garden apartment with ongoing drainage issues. During hurricanes Henri and Ida, I was bucketing water away from the door, which leads to my bedroom. I bought a raised drain guard and a sump pump that hooks up to a garden hose, but the pump couldn’t keep up. Because I was home, the damage was limited. But what if a big storm hits when I’m not home? The management company told me to deduct the cost of the pump from the rent. But shouldn’t the landlord address the larger drainage issues?
A: Your landlord is essentially treating you like an employee of the building by relying on you to constantly keep the water out. You cannot be expected to rush home from dinner, work or vacation for every nor’easter or heavy summer storm.
Maintaining the property — and that includes making sure water drains properly — is the landlord’s responsibility, not yours.
“The landlord has an absolute obligation to prevent water from coming in, even if the climate is changing,” said Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants. “You can’t ask a tenant to bear that responsibility.”
HP proceeding in housing court, and a judge could compel the landlord to do the work. You could withhold rent, and if the landlord pursues a nonpayment case against you, a judge could award you a rent abatement.
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