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Real Estate Law (esp. Landlord-Tenant)/New York Tenant repair toilet - landlord won't pay


Hello,  My toilet stopped working last Saturday,due to a defective fill valve/flapper (not due to normal wear and tear).  I notified my landlord 1-2 days later via email because he was overseas.

In his reply a day later, Landlord asked that I check with the maintenance company of the building, and that was it. He forwarded me an email where he emailed the maintenance company, and they replied "all other toilets in the building are fine. there was water pipe damage in the building over the weekend but all toilets should be working now". But my toilet was still not working.

When I personally, checked with the maintenance company, they said they are not liable for fixing the toilet, and instead, recommended a local plumber's contact. I called this plumber, and paid him for the repair, thinking that the landlord could reimburse me for this repair. The plumber came on Friday (6 days after the damage, 4 days after notifying my landlord) and repaired my toilet.

Now, the landlord is upset with me because I didn't give him a quotation of the repair cost, and will not reimburse me for the repair.  I had been without a working toilet for a week and felt that I had to resolve it as soon as possible, because of the worsening sanitary conditions.  

Perhaps I'm guilty of not giving landlord enough notice but when he emailed and told me "Check with the maintenance company", I was frustrated because he was not willing to discuss repairing and instead basically wanted me to contact a 3rd party. I didn't want to do an email back-and-forth with Landlord overseas this situation, because it was an emergency in my mind, and I wanted it resolved right away.

Who's liable? Am I not allowed to do a "Repair and Deduct" in this case? Thank you,

Hi James,

Was that the only toilet in the unit? It sounds like you may be able to recover costs from the landlord if this was the only working toilet and you gave the landlord proper notice before having the toilet repaired on your own. You should double check New York law here:

Thanks for your question.

David Piotrowski
Attorney at Law

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David Piotrowski, Esq.


My landlord/tenant practice primarily assists California landlords with all aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship including leases, contract violations, non-payment of rent, and evictions. I can also advise, on a more general level, other real property issues.


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