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My landlord took days to repair a broken fridge and I lost $100 worth of groceries. Can I get reimbursed?

By Austin Havens-Bowen | June 10, 2021 - 2:30PM 

The issue should be addressed promptly—but that doesn't mean it will be repaired the same day.

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Question:

The fridge in my New York City apartment stopped working on a Friday and my landlord didn’t replace it until Monday. As a result I lost about $100 worth of groceries. Am I entitled to a reimbursement?

Answer:

If your landlord provided a fridge in your New York City rental apartment, they are required to keep it in working condition. So if the fridge stops working, it’s their responsibility to repair or replace it.

However that doesn’t necessarily mean that the repair will be done on the day that it stops working. And getting a reimbursement for the loss of your groceries depends on the situation. 

The most important consideration is that your landlord addresses the issue promptly, says Steven Kirkpatrick, a partner at law firm Romer Debbas. It’s considered acceptable if they call a repairman and it cannot be repaired for a couple of days, especially if the unit stops working on a weekend or holiday, he says.


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Another acceptable reason for delay: If a replacement part must be ordered, Kirkpatrick says. There are still a lot of supply shortages because of the pandemic, so it may be out of your landlord’s control if something is backordered. 

Arik Lifshitz, CEO at DSA Property Group, says that ideally, his maintenance team would respond within 24 hours. And if a technician must be called to repair the fridge, the goal is to respond within two to three days, he says. Of course, if there’s a more serious issue going on in the building, like the heat is out in the winter, that would take precedence over a broken fridge.

A lot of technicians and repairmen do not work on weekends and holidays, so you have to be flexible during these times, Liftshitz says. 

If you end up without a working fridge for a few days, and you lose a substantial amount of groceries as a result, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a reimbursement. Liftshitz says that DSA usually doesn’t reimburse tenants for groceries but “if we review an incident and judge ourselves to be at fault, then we would consider it,” he says.

Kirkpatrick says that he would encourage landlords to provide interim relief, like a smaller fridge or coolers with ice packs, if the repair or replacement will take a few days. And while it’s worth asking for a rent credit or reimbursement for any losses if they don’t provide this, it is not guaranteed. 

You shouldn’t hire a repairman on your own because if it’s not repaired properly, or not to your landlord’s satisfaction, then you would be held responsible for additional repairs or replacing the fridge.

 

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