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  1. #1

    Default Landlord Forced Major Renovations on Tenants

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: MA

    Hi All,
    I am a resident of an approximately 100 unit luxury building in the heart of Boston, MA. The building is entirely residential, and is in good shape. It is also one of the most expensive buildings in the city. The landlord has been doing renovations since before I moved in, which at the time consisted of redoing all the interior hallways and lighting before I had moved in, and completely redesigning the lobby area as I moved in. After I moved in they also replaced the elevators. The elevators worked fine, but they were old and slow. The renovations went way past schedule, which left me without elevator access to the garage I pay for (it was accessible through the outside). I was willing to live with all of that, but what has happened since has become unacceptable, and I'm looking into what legal options I have.

    Long after moving in, during a conversation with the building manager, she informed me that at some point in the future they would start to replace all the windows in the building. She told me then that current residents would have the option of having them done while they live there, or after they move out.

    I should point out here that the windows, while slightly old, were perfectly fine. No leaks, they opened and closed, had proper screens, etc. If they were anything, they were a little noisy because they were single paned.

    A few months later (approx Sep 29 2008), all residents received a notice on their door that in three days they would be entering everyone's apartment to replace the windows, and we had to move all our furniture or they'd do it for us. They said the repairs would take no longer than four days, although most took six or seven. Each day residents had to wake up early and move furniture, then move it back (presumably) when they got home. In literally cutting the windows out of the wall, they spread plaster dust throughout my apartment (they did cover the furniture but it didn't help avoid the fine-grained dust much). It took me several vacuumings to get it mostly clean.

    During this time, and continuing through now (Oct 1 through today+) they have stored all the windows and building materials in the unit above my own. This is a residential unit that they converted to a storeroom for this project. In doing so they removed all the flooring in the unit, exposing nothing but cement, the same cement that makes up my ceiling. So every impact noise that comes from that floor, i hear, which has meant I have been worken up literally every single work day since the beginning of the month between 7 and 7:30 am, about one hour earlier than my normal work schedule. I have been miserable and tired as I have not been able to adjust to this.

    I have asked the landlord for compensation which they refused, and am now preemptively withholding next months rent. Between the forced renovations that weren't needed, the unannounced (or announced with less than 24 hours remaining which is a violation of state law) entries into my unit, and now the incessant early morning noise, I have had enough.

    Also, when I have asked what gives them the right to do this, they claim (by they I am referring to the building manager on behalf of the owners) it is repairs to the building (personally, I don't see how "fixing" something that isn't broken constitutes a repair). Furthermore, according to our lease, all repairs are MY responsibility and it is my duty to return the apartment to them in the same condition they leased it to me.

    This is all about money to the landlord. They pay all heating and cooling costs, so replacing the windows lowered their costs. Forcing residents to do them all at once instead of as they moved out saved them on installation costs.

    I would like to know what my legal standing is here? Is this a violation of "quiet-enjoyment" as I believe? Are there other laws and rights they have violated.

    Thank you!

    I should also add that the windows in question were metal and structurally perfect, so they weren't rotting wood or anything of that sort...

    And also add that this building is normally silent. I have never heard a neighbors TV, a conversation, or even them walking. My point being: this noise is very loud and out of the ordinary, the landlord is creating the noise, and the landlord has not tried to prevent the creation of the noise.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Landlord Forced Major Renovations on Tenants

    You have no case. Reason why????

    1. Mass. has no law on "notice to enter". Landlord may enter the unit at will with no notice in advance.

    2. The landlord/owner has every right to update his property. You would be in violation of state law and your lease if you try impede this right.

    3. To withhold rent in Mass... you must have a court order and a court supervised escrow account. Withholding your rent on your own will only end up in an eviction.

    4. Compensation???? For what??? See answer # 2.

    With the rising cost of heating fuel and the need to conserve, I would think that you and the landlord would be cooperative with each other in reducing costs. It's not "all about the money". If heating costs got too high...the landlord could just raise the rent on all tenants instead of trying to alleveate the problem by installing engery effecient windows.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Landlord Forced Major Renovations on Tenants

    Quote Quoting lill
    View Post
    You have no case. Reason why????

    1. Mass. has no law on "notice to enter". Landlord may enter the unit at will with no notice in advance.

    2. The landlord/owner has every right to update his property. You would be in violation of state law and your lease if you try impede this right.

    3. To withhold rent in Mass... you must have a court order and a court supervised escrow account. Withholding your rent on your own will only end up in an eviction.

    4. Compensation???? For what??? See answer # 2.

    With the rising cost of heating fuel and the need to conserve, I would think that you and the landlord would be cooperative with each other in reducing costs. It's not "all about the money". If heating costs got too high...the landlord could just raise the rent on all tenants instead of trying to alleveate the problem by installing engery effecient windows.
    Hi,
    Thank you for your response. Sorry I haven't replied sooner I was waiting for a couple more replies to come. Please see my responses/questions to your responses:

    1. I was told by the landlord that MA does have a 24-hr notice to enter requirement. Even it if it doesn't the terms of our lease allow entry only for repairs, inspections, and showing to potential tenants only. Major renovations don't count. The landlord has never requested an inspection, but I keep my home in tip-top shape in every respect.

    2. This doesn't make sense to me. It was leased to me for a duration, and in the lease it dictates that I am to maintain the property and return to the landlord in the same condition. Where on this green Earth does a landlord have the right to come in without warning, move all my furniture, and knock down two walls? I'm pretty sure he doesn't. I'm also pretty sure I have the legal right to defend against such an intrusion with force if necessary.

    The landlord can update common property of course, but not the unit leased to me!!!

    3. I am no longer withholding rent (but also no longer allowing the landlord to get rent automatically via EFT).

    4. See my response to 2...and below...

    I am at the point now where I have spent extensive time talking with the landlord, they have made many promises but have yet to do anything about them. I am very seriously considering filing a claim with the housing court, and need to know if it is a waste of my time.

    Also, I want to reiterate here this is a very high luxury building. Meaning, I'm not paying $300 in rent in a slum looking for peace and quiet. I pay a very large amount of money, and part of that is the expectation of luxury. Outside of real estate law, I'm guessing this is a violation of contract law somewhere...

    But again, do I have a case in housing court?

    Thanks for all your help!

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