Tenant Rights for Construction

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Tenants are entitled to rights during construction in apartment buildings.
Tenants are entitled to rights during construction in apartment buildings. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

If you are a renter, a situation may arise where the landlord of your unit or building will commence construction on the property. This construction can include removing mold, fixing structural problems, re-piping or rewiring portions of the building, installing new roofing or retrofitting for potential earthquakes. As a tenant you are entitled to various rights during construction. Your landlord may offer to reduce your rent, among other options, but it is important to request any mutual agreement in writing, with valid signatures.

Moving

If construction has yet to begin on your unit or building, your landlord cannot force you to move out before your lease is up, regardless of whether you're on a multi-month lease or a month-to-month contract. The only way you can be legally forced to move from your rental property is if a court terminates your residency, otherwise you are not obligated to accommodate your landlord's requests, such as vacating the premises or moving furniture, if construction is to take place.

Temporary Accommodations

Depending on what city you live in, there may be certain laws related to special circumstances that do allow landlords to request you move temporarily. For example, those who live in rent-controlled apartment complexes in Los Angeles fall under this circumstance. If this is the case, your landlord must provide you with a 60-day notice, temporary accommodations, moving expenses and name a specific date that you can move back into your original apartment. The landlord must also file a Tenant Habitability Plan with the city.

Noise

If construction has already begun on the apartment building you are living in, the constant noise from tools, such as hammers, electric saws and nail guns, may seem unbearable. As a tenant, you are entitled to "quiet enjoyment" under common law. Depending on what state or city you live in, you may be able to sue the landlord and construction workers in small claims court for noise violations. You may also be able to sue for breach of contract, based on the breach of the "quiet enjoyment" covenant.

Habitability

As a tenant, you have a right to certain necessities in your rental. These include running water, functioning power lines and no mold that may endanger your health when breathed in. If construction has begun on your apartment building and has resulted in conditions that deprive you of habitability, such as cutting off your access to water, you have a right to sue in small claims court under breach of contract, nuisance and possibly other violations depending on your circumstances.

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