Rant:Constructive eviction, semi volatile organic compounds, nuisance odors, hotels, sublets and other subjects I never intended to be an expert on.
Let’s start with “Constructive Eviction”. This is the legal term used when your landlord (in my case co-op corporation) has caused or allows to be caused an unreasonable nuisance or other situation that makes your house or apt un-inhabitable. If you can prove there is in fact this condition the landlord is responsible for your relocation costs and you may withhold rent (as long as you notify the landlord in writing) until the matter is resolved.
When there was an oil delivery Jan 9th we evacuated our Apt due to overwhelming oil vapors. The odor did not dissipate after several days and we knew it was a problem. A letter to the board about my “Constructive Eviction” set the remedy in motion. The manager of the building minimized the situation and calls the oil odor a “fragrance”. He ordered an air test which showed above background levels of Benzene (a petroleum based nero toxin) and other petroleum based compounds. The environmental consultant said that the levels were not above OSHA guidelines so the apt was “inhabitable”. Well, Osha has standards for gas stations and oil drilling rigs, but not for bedrooms and it is not a standard I am comfortable with. So that brings us to Nuisance laws. If the odor is an unreasonable and there is evidence that it exists then the cost of repair falls onto the liable party as well as relocation expenses.
To make a short story long, the DEC and my own environmental consultant made recommendations of how to fix the problem (it took a month to get the management to recognize there was a problem). The board agreed on the steps and orders it done by Feb 25 so that we can move back in. I was told all the steps have been taken, the odor was neutralized and the apartment had been cleaned by Restoration Company. So we moved out of our sublet and arrived to our apt which now had a different overwhelming odor. It seems nobody felt it was necessary to inform us that they were not done, and the Epoxy the used to seal the tank room below our apt was still wet. They also left the wet rollers and buckets right outside our window and garbage bags full of wet epoxy downstairs. The cleaning crew did in fact wipe down the walls of our apartment and left evidence in the form of wet rags left on an antique leather air loom chair. The shit job they did was unfathomable. So off we went to our home away from how the double tree, and luckily we were able to get the same sublet back. All of this I had a nasty chest cold and cough. So to look at the glass half full I am now and expert in all of this stuff and we are off to St. Lucia for spring break, hopefully we will have a home to come back too!
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3 months ago