What are my legal rights as a tenant regarding construction at my rental?

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What are my legal rights as a tenant regarding construction at my rental?

My landlord is having construction done around the house with a small bulldozer and other loud machines. They start at 7 am. I asked them to please start around 8 am so that my 3 year-old isn’t woken up all the time (and she can’t take naps either). They even came Sunday for couple of hours and stayed couple of days after 8 pm. What are my legal rights in this case?

Asked on May 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Three different issues here:

1) What do local ordinances say about when contruction can be done--i.e. how early can it start, how late can it go, and are there any days (weekends generally? Sunday in particular?) it can't be done? You can find this out from your local police and/or town (or borough, if you're in NYC) hall, then if the construction is violating those parameters, call the police to enforce the rules.

2) As a tenant you are entitled to "quiet enjoyment" of your rental--to be not disturbed. However, that is not an absolute right, and is balanced against the landlord's right  to repair, renovate, build, etc. It *may* be that this is a violation of your rights, at least as is being conducted; the issue will probably hinge on whether the construction, as is, is seen as "reasonable" in how its conducted.

3) Similar, *sometimes* excessive noise can be a legal nuisance, though again, this depends on what is considered "reasonable."

Suggestion: check on (1) above--that's the easiest and cleanest way to deal with the matter, if the ordinances, etc. are in your favor. If that doesn't help and the construction appears as if it will go on for awhile, consult with an attorney to evaluate your rights, if any, under (2) and (3). Good luck.


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