The lease for my New York City apartment is up for renewal and the rent is increasing substantially. I’ve lived here for a few years and it needs a few minor repairs. Is now a good time to request these fixes?
You are likely facing a considerable rent hike but weighed against the city’s record-high rents, it probably makes better financial sense to stay. Renters today have very little leverage with landlords, but asking for repairs—especially when you are going to be forking over more money each month—seems reasonable.
It’s a common request for tenants who have lived in their apartments for at least three years, says Marc Weber, asset manager at Weber Realty, a NYC property management company. That doesn’t mean you have to wait for your lease to expire to request repairs. Weber says it’s best to let your landlord know as soon as possible, so repairs can be made before the issue gets worse and costs more to fix.
What kind of repairs are acceptable to request? The most common request from tenants is for their apartment to be repainted, Weber says. And if it’s been more than three years since your apartment was painted, your landlord must repaint, according to the city’s Housing Maintenance Code.
Weber says that his team has also recently noticed an increase in requests for electric outlet upgrades and for window sills to be repaired.
If you have a good track record with your landlord, you might also have more leverage in negotiating repairs or upgrades with your landlord, says Adjina Dekikjiev, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg. So if your apartment hasn’t been renovated and the appliances are outdated or the place needs sprucing up, now is a good time to ask, Dekikjiev says.
However, be realistic with your expectations when it comes to cosmetic upgrades if your place is in livable condition. Many landlords lost money during the pandemic due to high vacancy rates and it doesn’t always make sense to renovate a place with a tenant in place, says Becki Danchik, a broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg.
“If you want to ask for new kitchen appliances or for the bathroom to be retiled, think twice because it’s a competitive rental market, and your apartment could be rented easily ‘as is’ to someone else,” Danchik says.
But if your apartment needs serious repairs, your landlord probably prefers to make those fixes and keep you as a good tenant in place, Danchik says.
It’s also important to note that your landlord is always required to make repairs covered by warranty of habitability, including broken stoves, a lack of heat or hot water, windows that don’t work, and faulty locks. And if for some reason your landlord is not making these necessary repairs, you can file an online apartment maintenance complaint against them.
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