Does a Landlord Need to Supply A Refrigerator?
Generally, a landlord is obligated to supply possession of the premises as agreed in the lease. An implied term in residential rental leases is the warranty of habitability. The premises must meet minimum standards of habitability including compliance with applicable building codes. Weatherizing, locks, running water, working plumbing, heating and cooling, pest control, and other basics must be in place. Supplying appliances, such as a refrigerator, is typically not covered by the warranty of habitability. However, if a refrigerator is included in the lease, it should be in working order. A landlord is obligated to keep the premises in repair, to the same standard as existed when the tenant initially leased the premises. Damages caused by the tenant, however, will be repaired only at tenant's expense.
If the landlord causes the rental to become uninhabitable or fails to make repairs so that the premises are uninhabitable, a constructive eviction may occur. This may allow the tenant to withhold rent, repair the problem and deduct the cost from the rent, or recover damages.
A failure on the landlord's part to correct a problem affecting the habitability of the premises may be cause for termination of the lease. In general, a warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain safe and sanitary housing fit for human habitation. The warranty of provides protection against those conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the tenants or those deficiencies that, in the eyes of a reasonable person, deprive a tenant of those essential functions which a residence is expected to provide. "Habitability," for purposes of a landlord's warranty of habitability is not the same as no risk of harm. An apartment can provide adequate shelter and amenities, as promised, and still be a place which presents some risk.
This warranty is implied into all leases and generally requires the landlord to deliver livable quarters at the tenancy's inception and to maintain the premises in a habitable condition throughout the term, and conditions the tenant's covenant to pay rent on the habitable condition of the premises. A landlord is required to make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. To constitute a breach of the warranty, the defect complained of must be shown to be of a nature and kind which will prevent the use of the dwelling for its intended purpose to provide premises fit for habitation by its dwellers.
The warranty of habitability is not intended to make the landlord a guarantor of every amenity customarily rendered in the landlord-tenant relationship, but only provides protection against those conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the tenants or those deficiencies that, in the eyes of a reasonable person, deprive a tenant of those essential functions which a residence is expected to provide. "Habitability," for purposes of a landlord's warranty of habitability is not the same as no risk of harm. An apartment can provide adequate shelter and amenities, as promised, and still be a place which presents some risk.
Factors to be considered in determining whether a condition or defect constitutes an actionable breach of the warranty include:
(1) whether the condition violates a housing law, regulation, or ordinance;
(2) the nature and seriousness of the defect;
(3) the effect of the defect on safety and sanitation;
(4) the length of time the condition has persisted; and
(5) the age of the structure.
A condition which may endanger or materially impair the health or safety and well-being of an occupant is sufficient to violate the warranty of habitability Factors aiding a court's determination of the materiality of a landlord's alleged breach of a residential lease include: (1) the seriousness of the claimed defects and their effect on the dwelling's habitability (2) the length of time the defects persist, (3) whether the landlord received written or oral notice of the defects, (4) whether the residence could be made habitable within a reasonable time, and (5) whether the defects resulted from abnormal conduct or use by the tenant.
Additionally, to assert a breach of the implied warranty of habitability except where otherwise provided by statute, the tenant must prove that he or she gave notice to the landlord of the defect or condition, that the landlord had a reasonable opportunity to make the necessary repairs, and that he or she failed to do so.
The applicable New York statutes are as follows:
§ 235-b Real Prop. Warranty of habitability.
1. In every written or oral lease or rental agreement for residential
premises the landlord or lessor shall be deemed to covenant and warrant
that the premises so leased or rented and all areas used in connection
therewith in common with other tenants or residents are fit for human
habitation and for the uses reasonably intended by the parties and that the
occupants of such premises shall not be subjected to any conditions which
would be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or
safety. When any such condition has been caused by the misconduct of the
tenant or lessee or persons under his direction or control, it shall not
constitute a breach of such covenants and warranties.
2. Any agreement by a lessee or tenant of a dwelling waiving or modifying
his rights as set forth in this section shall be void as contrary to public
3. In determining the amount of damages sustained by a tenant as a result
of a breach of the warranty set forth in the section, the court;
(a) need not require any expert testimony; and
(b) shall, to the extent the warranty is breached or cannot be cured by
reason of a strike or other labor dispute which is not caused primarily by
the individual landlord or lessor and such damages are attributable to such
strike, exclude recovery to such extent, except to the extent of the net
savings, if any, to the landlord or lessor by reason of such strike or
labor dispute allocable to the tenant's premises, provided, however, that
the landlord or lesser has made a good faith attempt, where practicable, to
cure the breach.
(c) where the premises is subject to regulation pursuant to the local
emergency housing rent control law, the emergency tenant protection act of
nineteen seventy-four, the rent stabilization law of nineteen hundred
sixty-nine or the city rent and rehabilitation law, reduce the amount
awarded hereunder by the total amount of any rent reduction ordered by the
state division of housing and community renewal pursuant to such laws or
act, awarded to the tenant, from the effective date of such rent reduction
order, that relates to one or more matters for which relief is awarded
§ 235-c Real Prop. Unconscionable lease or clause.
1. If the court as a matter of law finds a lease or any clause of the
lease to have been unconscionable at the time it was made the court may
refuse to enforce the lease, or it may enforce the remainder of the lease
without the unconscionable clause, or it may so limit the application of
any unconscionable clause as to avoid any unconscionable result.
2. When it is claimed or appears to the court that a lease or any clause
thereof may be unconscionable the parties shall be afforded a reasonable
opportunity to present evidence as to its setting, purpose and effect to
aid the court in making the determination.
§ 227 Real Prop. When tenant may surrender premises.
Where any building, which is leased or occupied, is destroyed or so
injured by the elements, or any other cause as to be untenantable, and
unfit for occupancy, and no express agreement to the contrary has been made
in writing, the lessee or occupant may, if the destruction or injury
occurred without his or her fault or neglect, quit and surrender possession
of the leasehold premises, and of the land so leased or occupied; and he or
she is not liable to pay to the lessor or owner, rent for the time
subsequent to the surrender. Any rent paid in advance or which may have
accrued by the terms of a lease or any other hiring shall be adjusted to
the date of such surrender.