While many of us don’t think about it as often, indoor air quality can be as important to our health as outdoor air quality. Living in New York City, where the population density is extremely high, indoor air quality is a real concern.
There are things you can do if your apartment, condo or co-op has poor air quality. Some are fairly straightforward, but in other cases, you may need assistance from the city or an attorney.
What are some of the most common indoor air pollutants?
Smoke – Simply living in a unit next to a smoker may mean you are breathing secondhand smoke. Unless your building is smoke-free, however, you may have to address this problem on your own. Purchasing an air purifier can help. Special cleaning services can help remove the chemicals from the walls. If the building is smoke-free, talk to your landlord about the tenant.
Mold – Many apartments suffer from mold issues, which can leave residents with medical problems ranging from allergies to infections. Because mold is considered a threat to habitability, the city provides inspections and processes for handling the problem. If your landlord won’t cooperate and make the necessary repairs, you can initiate an HP proceeding. This process allows residents to require landlords to make necessary repairs and fix building code violations. You can start the process by filling out the forms at your county court.
Chemicals from nearby businesses – Do you live above a business? Depending on what they do, your apartment may be filled with odors or toxins. OSHA and the Department of Health warn that dry cleaners and salons emit especially hazardous toxins.
What can you do?
Notifying your landlord is typically the first step. Filing a complaint with the Department of Housing and Development, or the Department of Consumer Affairs when complaining about a business, may be the next step.
If your landlord, co-op board or a business refuses to address the problem, you can seek legal help. A landlord-tenant attorney knows your rights and how to protect them. You don’t have to fight this battle alone.