Apartment in Construction: Your Rights as a Tenant

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Apartment in Construction: Your Rights as a Tenant

Staff Writer · Dec 6, 2010

You might welcome the fact that your apartment is in construction, because the landlord is either remodeling the apartment or fixing repairs that will improve your living space. What you may not appreciate is the fact that you may have to leave the apartment temporarily.  Moving to a new place even for a short time can be inconvenient, especially when the landlord doesn’t provide adequate notice. You do have rights as a tenant under landlord and tenant laws to help you survive the situation without undue financial hardship or an abrupt notice from your landlord. Here’s what you need to know:

Notification Requirements

How much notice your landlord is required to give depends on whether you’re leaving or staying at your apartment. If you decide to stay while the work is being done, then some states allow landlords to give a 30 day notice, and other states require as much as a 60 notice. The apartment may not be habitable when there is no construction activity, such as at night when the workers go home, and you may have to relocate to another apartment that the landlord owns or to a hotel. Some states require a 60 day notice at that point.

Construction Activity and Noise

You don’t have to worry about construction taking place in your apartment while you live there at all hours of the evening. City ordinances typically restrict construction activities during certain times, in order to prevent the workers from becoming a noise nuisance when they use equipment and tools. For example, some ordinances may only permit construction activity during standard business hours. If the timing of the construction is a problem, then you should find out what’s allowed in your area for apartment construction. If there’s a violation, then report it to your landlord who may be unaware of the rules. If the violation continues, then you’ll have to consider pursuing legal action.

Payment for Temporary Leave

The landlord is responsible for paying for your move, because he has a duty to maintain the premises. If the construction doesn’t have to do with maintenance, but solely to boost the property value and later increase rent, then he has to bear those expenses. Your landlord may offer you a couple of choices. He could either move you to a hotel or to another apartment and pay for it all directly. Another option for your landlord may be to offer you a daily stipend that you can spend where you see fit. Wherever you move has to be reasonably comparable to your current apartment. For example, a landlord can’t decide to move a family of four living in a three bedroom apartment to a one bedroom apartment or a one room and one bed motel. If the landlord is offering a daily stipend, then it has to be sufficient for you to find a place that’s like where your current apartment.

You have the option to move out entirely if the apartment construction is going to last longer than 30 days. If you plan to do so, then you’ll have to provide the landlord notice after he serves you notice about the construction.

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