Q I have lived in Hudson Heights, a rent-stabilized building for nearly seven years. I don’t really have any complaints about the apartment except for this one: The windows. They are filthy. The management company refused to provide me with a list of preferred window cleaners. Management said no when I asked if I was allowed to hire my own cleaner. The windows are too old to open and I cannot clean them. Can you help?
A: There is nothing in the law that requires your landlord to clean your windows. Can you help?
There is nothing explicit in the law that requires the landlord to clean your windows.
Laws governing rent-regulated and market-rate apartments do not require this type of maintenance. But that doesn’t mean the dirty windows aren’t posing health hazards that the city must take seriously.
Landlords typically do not want to allow tenants to hire their own cleaners because of liability concerns, such as the window washer not having proper insurance, or out of fear that the windows will be damaged. This can be frustrating for tenants who live in older buildings where the windows don’t open to the inside.
First, check your lease to see if window cleaning is included. If not, you can still solve this problem. City windows are often caked in air pollutants from construction and building materials, car exhaust, or even soot from Canadian wildfires. City windows are often caked in air pollutants from construction and building materials, car exhaust, even soot from Canadian wildfires.
“The problem is the contaminants are more than just a dirty annoyance — the contaminants are in fact a health hazard,” said Steven Ben Gordon, a tenant lawyer based in Queens.
Email the landlord about addressing the health hazard. Write a letter too. Mr. Gordon said he strongly advises tenants to develop a written record of repair requests that relate to health hazards.
Next, contact 311 and notify the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development that you have requested that the landlord or property manager clean the contaminants from the windows, and request an inspection. Mr. Gordon stated that the department takes these hazards very seriously, as pollutants can pose serious health risks to children and seniors, who are at greatest risk. You can take legal action in housing court if there is still no resolution.