Question: My son has an apartment in Manhattan. He signed the first lease last year. Included in the lease is free gas and water. After signing the lease, he was then told they were working on the gas in the building so no one has gas throughout the building. The building still has no gas. The appliances are all gas stoves. Therefore he can’t cook in his home. Is this legal?

— Cooking Without Gas on the Upper West Side

Dear Cooking:

Your son and his fellow tenants may need a lawyer, but the law is on their side since gas is included in the rent. They should demand that the landlord reduce their rents and, possibly, reimburse them for the period that they have had no gas.

This gas issue comes up more often than you’d expect. It really took off after two horrible incidents just a few years ago. In 2014, two buildings on Park Avenue in Harlem blew up, killing eight people, injuring 70 others and displacing 100 families. The explosion was blamed on faulty gas-line welds by ConEd and city neglect of an adjacent leaking sewer main. Just a year later, an illegal tap on a gas main in the East Village caused another major explosion, killing two people, injuring 19 and destroying three buildings on Second Avenue.

Since then, the city has been issuing gas-related building violations like crazy, and ConEd has been shutting down gas service to buildings all over town: In Inwood, Washington Heights, the Upper East Side, Astoria and elsewhere. National Grid, which is the gas provider in Brooklyn, Staten Island and most of Queens has had similar shutoffs.

In most instances, ConEd or National Grid shuts off gas service when a leak is detected. It’s the building owner’s responsibility to fix it. That’s where civil authorities have stepped in and required landlords to provide alternative cooking appliances (usually electric hotplates) and rent rebates. New York’s Warranty of Habitability requires landlords to provide gas to tenants; if there is none, or if it’s leaking, it’s considered a violation. If your son has renter’s insurance, he may be able to make a claim for some portion of his time without gas.

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David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.

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