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Landlord died - left no will - Need help

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? NY

I have been renting at a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY with 2 friends since July of 2005. In February of 2006, my landlord passed away and left no will. I live in a brownstone with 2 other tenants. The landlord lived in the bottom unit. Because the landlord was 78, her sense of smell and physical ability to get things done for us was limited. Our heat has not worked since last year and the smell of animal urine and fecal matter permeates the entire home and air ducts, causing a wreak that is not healthy for human lungs.

Though she did not leave a will, her daughter, became the landlord based on good faith and a verbal agreement. Though it is not legally apparent that her daughter is the Landlord of our brownstone, my roommates and I judged it as the 'honorable' thing to do since she is the only heir to the estate. After our landlord died, her daughter actively removed a significant portion of the contents of the home to reduce the smell. The animals were taken in by animal control and a large amount of debris/furniture was thrown away.

To this day however, the home still wreaks of animal urine. The bottom unit that was occupied by our landlord still has yet to be fully cleaned and all objects removed to allow the smell to disipate. She has done a half-ass job in cleaning the space. One time she poured bleach directly on the wooden floors that connect our units and mopped. The smell and fumes of the Bleach burned my eyes and nose. As a household, we told our 'landlord' that something needs to change or she is not getting any money from us anymore.

Calls were made to Ms. Lynum to arrange a meeting regarding this matter and were not returned. Efforts to fix the heat for the winter months have not been arranged. Cosmetic and small repairs are needed. Until these issues are resolved we have decided to strike and refuse to pay rent to the daughter. We reserve the right to use the rent money to address these issues ourselves.

Is this wrong? What are our rights? What can we do? HELP!


Senior Member
Are you bound to a lease?

No. Then move.

If your housing is in violation / other issues, dial 311 and get help.

I can't see how a stink of urine and faeces sprang up overnight.


Senior Member
What does your lease say?

If you don't have one, then move....

The home is probably the property of the deceased's estate or by now has passed through probate and is owned by the daughter.

From what you have posted the home is not sufficiently uninhabitable to legal with hold rent. After all, you have been living under these conditions for quite some time.


Junior Member
Thank you

Yes. These are good points. However. It was made clear that efforts to remedy the odors would be made. I do not have enough capital to move to another home, because I keep paying rent for this one. This is so complicated. Thanks for the advice.

Who's Liable?

Senior Member
ryanblumkryzsta said:
Yes. These are good points. However. It was made clear that efforts to remedy the odors would be made. I do not have enough capital to move to another home, because I keep paying rent for this one. This is so complicated. Thanks for the advice.
You may only refuse to pay rent after ALL remedies have been exhuasted. Meaning that you have to notify the LL of the problems in the house in proper WRITTEN notifications. Phone calls or verbal agreements are worthless becuase they are hard to prove in court. She can always deny you ever tried to contact her. You will need to send her WRITTEN notification of the problems and demand immediate action. You will need to follow that with several more letters asking what has been done. All the LL has to do is show "reasonable effort" in fixing the problem. Meaning that if she makes one phone call to see how much it will cost to clean the floors, that is all they need to do for a certain amount of time. That time is usually selected by the judge, if they feel to much time was taken in making that phone call...

You may only do a "rent deduct for repairs" after ALL avenues have been tried. You cannot simply withhold rent becuase they didn't answer their phone right away. If you did, you would find your self on the sidewak within 15 days for failure to pay rent.

You Are Guilty

Senior Member
Google up "HP case" "new york" and follow the instructions from the link to the NYC Housing Court. Don't forget to request an inspection by HPD. (It's all explained on the website).

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