Building repairs and renovations can take months or years to complete. And in some situations, current tenants may not benefit from the work, especially in cases where renovations are for converting a building into condos.
Construction is notoriously difficult to live with. It is often extremely noisy and creates an unpleasant living situation. If renovations or repairs are causing you problems, there may be something you can do about it.
Some of the most common problems arising from construction are:
- Dust, which could have dangerous particles
- Debris in common areas of the building
- Excessive noise
- Interruption in services such as heat and water
According to tenants’ rights attorney Sam Himmelstein, these issues may cause a breach of habitability. In New York City, tenants are protected by a Warrant of Habitability. This means that the landlord is accountable for providing a safe and livable environment. Even during construction, tenants are entitled to this protection.
Ready to take action?
Himmelstein says that it is better to form a tenants’ association than to try to fight the landlord on your own. If you have expenses such as testing dust to determine if it’s toxic, you can split them with the group. You can also share legal fees if you hire an attorney. In addition, the more people who are involved in the association, the better your bargaining position with the landlord.
Depending on the specifics of your case, your tenants’ association may be successful in getting rent abatements to compensate you during the construction period and to force the landlord to follow health and safety measures as legally required, or more stringent than legally required. You may want to consult a lawyer to ensure all of your rights are protected.