Does a landlord have the responsibility to pay for hotel expenses if an apartment becomes uninhabitable?

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Does a landlord have the responsibility to pay for hotel expenses if an apartment becomes uninhabitable?

Recently my landlord has been doing construction on the unit below from me. Due to this recent construction the building has become uninhabitable due to structural damage. He told us we had to vacate and did not give us suitable options to accomadate us. Is he responsible for putting us in a hotel and covering the cost of just the room ?

Asked on August 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

Mark Siegel / Law Office of Mark A. Siegel

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You did not state whether the local building dept had issued violations or an order, after inspecting the unit below & the building. If the local building dept finds the building to be unsafe due to structural damage, the applicable local law may authorize them to issue an order to vacate the premises.

If the local building dept determines that the building is unsafe & as a result issues an order to vacate, it is possible that the applicable local law may require the landlord to pay for the relocation of the tenants. You can obtain information by checking with your local building dept.  

However, if your landlord is responsible for unnecessarily creating the structural damage, & could otherwise have made the repairs to the unit below without causing structural damage to the building, this may constitute an eviction. Under NY law, if landlord's action is wrongful & has resulted in an actual or constructive eviction of the tenant, the tenant may have a claim against the landlord for breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment and may ask the court to award them appropriate damages. 

Generally, an actual eviction is where the landlord unlawfully removes or expels the tenant from possession of the premises. In a constructive eviction, the landlord's wrongful action substantially interferes with the tenant's beneficial use of the premises & as a result, the tenant then abandons the premises.    

If you have a lease agreement, you may also want to consider having it reviewed by an attorney, in order to find out what the respective rights & obligations of the landlord & tenant are in your case, under the terms of the lease.


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