What to do if our property manager hired a contractor to repair our apartment building’s exterior but they failed to close the windows as they sawed through concrete?

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What to do if our property manager hired a contractor to repair our apartment building’s exterior but they failed to close the windows as they sawed through concrete?

The work required sawing and removing concrete. We closed our balcony door and jealousy windows as instructed; however, these were not sealed by the contractor and now there is fine-particulate concrete dust covering absolutely everything in our apartment. My girlfriend has asthma and we cannot even stay there due to the dust, not to mention the potential damage to our electronics and other possessions. I have taken photos but what legal rights do we have? Should we contact a lawyer? How do we even assess damages for this type of situation? Should we hire an outside professional company immediately regardless of the contractor’s recommendations?

Asked on October 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The contractor and possibly (depending on the exact circumstances) property manager are likely liable for any injuries, property damage, or costs you suffer due to their negligence, or unreasonable carelessness. You, however, an obligation to mitigate, or minimize, you damages and injuries. If your apartment is not habitable due to the dust, especially given your girlfriend's asthma, then you should get it professionally cleaned; save the invoices and invoices for any other costs (e.g. for a hotel until the space is cleaned) and then try to recover them from your landlord after the fact, including by filing a lawsuit (e.g. in small claims court) if necessary. Understand that since litigation is never certain, you may not recover part or all of your costs, but if you incur additional losses, damage or injury from your failure to take reasonable steps, you will almost certainly not recover for anything you could have prevented.


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