By Susan Lippman
About ten years ago, a lawyer suggested that I withhold my rent because my landlord had consistently failed to provide adequate heat, and my building was infested with mice and roaches. Because the landlord had had a string of serious violations, the lawyer was convinced that I would get a rent abatement in New York City Housing Court. When the landlord took me to court for not paying rent, his attorney offered no defense to my complaints about conditions in the building. I won an abatement and did not have to pay any rent for six months.
Little did I know at the time that allowing the landlord to take me to Housing Court would make it almost impossible for me to rent another apartment, not only here in New York City, but anywhere in the United States. Had I known that, would I have still withheld rent? Probably not. I definitely would not do it again.
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