Noise Complaint: Construction is Ruining My Life

Q: In January, I moved into a two-bedroom, market-rate apartment on the Upper West Side. Days later, a gut renovation began in the apartment above mine, inundating me with noise all day long. As a high school teacher, I’ve had to leave the apartment to teach my Zoom classes elsewhere. My landlord won’t tell me when the work will be done, and today the contractor told me the demo has caused a leak in my ceiling. I don’t know what to do at this point. Please help.

A: Your landlord should, at the very least, fix the leak and tell you when the construction work will be done.

“It makes no sense that they won’t give you a timeline,” said Michael Mintz, the chief executive of MD Squared Property Group, a property manager in Manhattan.

Your landlord could make your life more tolerable in other ways during this process. Mr. Mintz suggested giving tenants noise-canceling headphones to drown out the din, setting midday quiet hours during which workers take lunch breaks, and, if necessary, giving rent concessions.

You may feel powerless, but you have leverage. You could potentially break the lease, claiming a constructive eviction because you can’t be in your apartment during the day. “It’s typically pretty difficult for a tenant to prove that conditions in the apartment rise to the level of constructive eviction,” said Jennifer Rozen, a lawyer who represents tenants. “But during Covid, when there is the expectation that the tenant spend almost all of their time in the apartment, judges may take a more lenient approach to this defense.”

If you were to move out, your landlord would be left trying to find a new tenant in a market where rents are down and vacancies are up. In all likelihood, your landlord needs you. So hold that card to your vest. You may need to use it.

Source link Real Estate

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