On January 25, 2017, a Manhattan Supreme Court agreed with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) that a landlord (LL) is not responsible to its tenants for even a terribly dangerous condition in an apartment, so long as the LL has not violated a law, regulation or contract. Damari Neville was only 1 year old when he came into contact with an uninsulated steam heating pipe in the kitchen of his apartment. He suffered second degree burns on his right cheek, which resulted in permanent facial scarring, pain and limited movement. Before the accident, Damari's mother complained eight times about the extremely hot exposed steam heating pipes in her apartment, all to no avail.
The 1968 NYC Administrative Code imposed a duty on LL's to insulate steam pipes carrying water in excess of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, for this innocent baby, the Court found that this tenant safety law did not apply to the NYCHA building because it was constructed in 1958. NYCHA successfully argued that the tenant should have insulated the dangerously hot steam pipes because no law required the LL to protect the tenants from this danger until ten years after its building was constructed. Neville v NYCHA, 2017 WL 373404