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An order of operations for requesting NYC apartment repairs

When the water starts coming down, who's your first call? And do you make a second?

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If you find yourself dealing with leaks, defective wiring, bedbugs, or any other problem with your rented New York City apartment, who ya gonna call? The city's 311 is an inviting option that won't necessarily get the problem fixed, but that may light a small, mildly annoying fire under your landlord to get someone to fix the issue. But in speaking to a landlord and an activist who are seeking common ground between tenants and building owners for our most recent episode of The Brick Underground Podcast, we heard that in the common-courtesy version of this scenario, the tenant calls the landlord first, and leaves it there for the short-term.

"The first thing you should do is call your landlord or email them, or text the super, and do so in a very calm and cordial and professional manner," says Yale Fox, founder and CEO of the site Rentlogic, which rates New York rental buildings. "What people often do is call screaming, and if the end goal is to get the problem resolved, it's the way to start things."

"If the landlord's not doing their job properly, then call the city," adds Arik Lifshitz, CEO of the developer and management company DSA Property Group.

Later in the episode, Lifshitz says that repeated complaints won't necessarily dim his view of a tenant come lease renewal time. 

"I'd like to think I would never penalize someone for making a good-faith repair request," he says. "Where I would draw the line is someone who makes a not good faith repair request. For example if you yell at us and complain to us because we don't change the light bulbs for you."

Then again, once relations have deteriorated to a point closer to open hostility, and/or it has become clear over repeated instances that very little will move your landlord to action, calling the city an hour after calling the super starts not to seem so unreasonable.

You can listen to the full episode here.

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