Q: In January, I moved right into a two-bedroom, market-rate residence on the Higher West Aspect. Days later, a intestine renovation started within the residence above mine, inundating me with noise all day lengthy. As a highschool instructor, I’ve needed to go away the residence to show my Zoom lessons elsewhere. My landlord received’t inform me when the work will likely be executed, and at present the contractor instructed me the demo has triggered a leak in my ceiling. I don’t know what to do at this level. Please assist.
A: Your landlord ought to, on the very least, repair the leak and let you know when the development work will likely be executed.
“It is senseless that they received’t provide you with a timeline,” stated Michael Mintz, the chief government of MD Squared Property Group, a property supervisor in Manhattan.
Your landlord may make your life extra tolerable in different methods throughout this course of. Mr. Mintz advised giving tenants noise-canceling headphones to drown out the din, setting noon quiet hours throughout which employees take lunch breaks, and, if vital, giving lease concessions.
Chances are you’ll really feel powerless, however you’ve gotten leverage. You can probably break the lease, claiming a constructive eviction as a result of you’ll be able to’t be in your residence in the course of the day. “It’s usually fairly tough for a tenant to show that situations within the residence rise to the extent of constructive eviction,” stated Jennifer Rozen, a lawyer who represents tenants. “However throughout Covid, when there’s the expectation that the tenant spend nearly all of their time within the residence, judges could take a extra lenient strategy to this protection.”
Should you have been to maneuver out, your landlord can be left looking for a brand new tenant in a market the place rents are down and vacancies are up. In all probability, your landlord wants you. So maintain that card to your vest. Chances are you’ll want to make use of it.
Within the brief time period, demand in writing that administration repair the leak and restore any harm to the ceiling instantly — and get a timeline. Ask for a lease abatement, too, as a result of the fixed noise could violate your warranty of habitability, a state regulation. Chances are you’ll even be capable to get an injunction in opposition to the owner to cease the work or full it inside a set time period if the situations are discovered to create a nuisance. Your case can be stronger if the owner rented the residence to you figuring out work was about to start and didn’t disclose that data, stated Robert J. Braverman, a Manhattan actual property lawyer who has dealt with instances about building defects.
One other route: Name 311 and ask that the Division of Buildings ship an inspector to examine for violations, hazardous situations or unlawful work. The division may subject a stop-work order if hazardous situations are discovered. That may convey you some peace and quiet.