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Landlord wants full rent, despite dangerous construction

Posted by Nicole on August 31, 1999 at 22:17:28:

My roommate and I moved into a 2 BR apt in Greenpoint in September 98, and were told that while we were moving into the 2nd floor apt, that he wanted to move us up to the 4th (top fl.) apt in two months since he just bought the bldg and his aging mother in law would live on the 2nd floor (couldn't get up stairs, etc). While we signed a lease for a finished apt (with hardwood floors), when we moved in, it was in fine shape, except for the shoddy vinyl flooring laid down. "I'll pay to have all your things moved, I'll put in a skylight and jacuzzi, it'll be beautiful," he promised. Seemed okay so we accepted the terms. A very nice guy, nice family, beautiful block....

The little old lady living on the top floor didn't move (was fighting eviction apparently) til May, so we've been living in boxes since then, thinking we'd be moving any day. He said he'd have to do construction on the now empty top floor, and always empty third floor, and well, his floor too. His family quietly moved out for the summer. The construction started in May and has been unbearable. The HUGE cracks and hunks of plaster falling out of the ceiling are frightening. We showed them to him and he's totally unconcerned.

He's got non union Polish construction guys who jackhammer the ceilings and floors (working on both sides of an occupied apt, isn't that illegal?), drilling holes in our floors and ceilings to put in pipes all over our apt and then leaving the "mistake" holes open. Debris falls through everywhere. Hot water has been off for weekends, no gas some days...water comes through black some days. They raised and lowered all the plaster, bricks etc in buckets and pulleys out the window that blew debris through our windows and meant we couldn't even open our front windows on the hottest days of the summer. The construction guys were dumping debris down the airshafts and one hunk of garbage broke the glass panes, meaning we came back to piles of debris and inches of dust and lord knows what, in the hall after a weekend away. Never repaired, even after we showed him.

We've been patient, we've been understanding, but we've had it. He has insisted we pay full rent throughout this and I'm furious. I don't think this building is up to code, and I can't believe he's been shaking us down for full rent all this time. A month of construction, fine, two, maybe ... but full rent during this whole four months of construction is ridiculous. Our lease is up in mid Sept and I can't afford to move again. Is there anything I can do? He says construction will continue through November. I don't want to move, but I'm broke and sleepless.

We've paid our rent on time, never had parties, take our recycling out and have been very good tenants, so I'm at a loss as to why he won't meet us halfway. I understand construction can take a long time, and the floors in the bldg were so rotted apparently, that he had to replace them (makes me wonder about mine!).

It's 9:30 PM and there's still construction/hammering/drilling going on. I tried calling Office of Code Enforcement but the number just hits a recording that won't take messages. what can I do?

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