Just in case you missed it, Lucas was quoted in yesterday's New York Times. Here's the piece in its entirety:
April 27, 2008
Q & A
Getting Access to Fix a Leaky Bathroom
Q. A bathroom in a rent-stabilized apartment in a building we own is leaking into an apartment below. The tenant with the leak refuses to grant access to his apartment so we can repair the problem.
What legal recourse does a landlord have to force a tenant to provide access to an apartment to make repairs? And once we gain access, what is our financial responsibility to the tenant if his bathroom is unusable during repairs?
A. "By law, residential tenants are required to provide owners with access to their apartments so that necessary repairs may be made," said Lucas A. Ferrara, a Manhattan real estate lawyer and adjunct professor at New York Law School in Manhattan.
In a "nonemergency" situation, which this appears to be, Mr. Ferrara said, a landlord should give a tenant "reasonable advance notice" of when entry is desired.
"How much time is appropriate will depend on a number of factors, including whether or not the unit is subject to some form of rent regulation and what the parties' lease agreement may provide," he said. With regulated apartments in New York City, for example, seven days would be considered reasonable notice, he added.
Mr. Ferrara said that a tenant's baseless refusal to cooperate with a legitimate repair request could be grounds for eviction.
As to the question about the landlord's responsibility to the tenant if the bathroom is rendered unusable during repairs, Mr. Ferrara said that in New York, owners of residential buildings are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their structures are livable and free of conditions that would present a threat to the health, safety and well-being of the building's occupants.
"A nonfunctioning toilet would, in my estimation, present such a hazard," he said.
In such a situation, he noted, a landlord might need to relocate tenants while repairs are being made.
To access a copy of the article, please use this link: April 27, 2008 NYT