Passing through San Francisco streets, it seems like we're always in the middle of constant construction. When you return home to find it in your own building, it can feel even worse and more personal. The increase in these projects may cause damage to your personal and professional lives. Whether it's drilling in the am or blocked sidewalks during a commute, here are things to know when dealing with construction in your building.
In landlord and tenant relationships, both parties have specific rights and responsibilities. Tenants' rights related to construction issues include the right to quiet enjoyment and the warranty of habitability. Both are implied in every residential lease, regardless of the specific language contained. Habitability requires that rentals maintain a certain level of livability that comply with state health and safety codes. The right to quiet enjoyment means that they you're entitled to enjoy and occupy your living space without "substantial interference."
An issue with construction is the noise that accompanies it, which can make it tough to work from home, sleep, or concentrate. Depending on how loud it gets, it's possible that it can be considered a nuisance, and thus, a breach of your quiet enjoyment. If upgrades to your neighbor's unit is keeping you awake at night, you could be entitled to compensation.
However, it can be difficult to establish because noise is very subjective. Some people are more sensitive than others and a certain amount of noise is acceptable when it comes to construction and repairs. Minor inconveniences and disruptions won't count. Rent reductions for construction noise isn't usually available when the landlord makes reasonable repairs during regular working hours and the work doesn't substantially interfere with the use of the rental property.
Since your landlord owes you a duty to keep the premises in a livable condition, construction might be necessary. However, some projects may require permits, and if your landlord doesn't get one when it's appropriate to do so, they may be violating the law. In SF, you can contact the Department of Building Inspection and file a complaint. An inspector can follow up and investigate whether the work violates building codes. Depending on the outcome, your landlord may adjust the construction or stop it altogether.
If your landlord needs to fix your unit, they may be able to work something out with you to lessen the burden. For instance, for major work that affects you living there, like working on a bathroom where it's inoperable, you should be able to get a discount on your rent or may even temporarily relocate until the work is done.
If the construction severely impacts your living space, you may be able to be compensated. If they need to make substantial repairs to be up to code, your landlord can make you leave and end the lease without an eviction notice. Technically, it's an eviction, but is considered a constructive eviction where you would be entitled to relocation costs, and you wouldn't be liable for your rent payments anymore.
Sometimes, your landlord may try to use construction as a way to harass you into ending your lease. In that case, you could file a lawsuit against them and recover damages if you prevail. If you're forced out of a rent-controlled unit because of unreasonable conditions, you may be able to recover substantial damages.
Construction in your building can greatly impact your living situation. If it's a problem, you should protect yourself and talk to an experienced Wolford Wayne tenant' rights attorney. We can answer your questions about this tricky area of law. Contact us today to learn more about protecting your rights.
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