Apartment Advice/Laws

mn343780January 11, 2012

Back story - My husband, myself and my young daughter moved into a large 3 bdrm apt in September of this year. There was no electricity/lighting on while we looked at the apt, so couldn't really see all the details of it until we moved in, but we were happy with the size/location/and what we thought were the neighbors.

We were told that we would be living downstairs from the owner's son and new wife and they were both school teachers.

We moved in and the house reaked of cat urine and there was pee on all the base boards. We didn't smell it when we looked at the apt because they had all the doors/windows open. We find out it was the neighbor's 4 dogs, who would run through the apt even though she moved next door. It was gross having to clean that up. The floors in the dining room were also heavily urine stained. I bought several pet cleaners and it wouldn't come up. The apt was gross when we started cleaning and I was shocked that they wouldn't have had it cleaned prior to us moving in. It also took an entire month to get the smell out and to stop sneezing - I'm allergic to dogs/cats.

2 weeks later we find out they have a roommate which was a friend of theirs which was ok, but then we also found out that there was an older man staying there 2 nights a week. And the two kids were also not school teachers like they said, they had just graduated college and didn't have full-time jobs.

The house is also all hardwood flooring throughout, you can hear everything that goes on everywhere inside the house. Sometime in October, we inquired that if we paid for them, if we could have carpeting put in (to help with noise and cover up urine stains on floor) - they said no. We have asked them about even having the floors redone - they said no about that too, but acknowledged that they were animal urine stains.

It's also impossible to sleep here. It's so loud at night here, it's awful. We have changed our bedroom 3 times since moving in, and have been sleeping on the couch frequently just to try and get some sleep.

In December, the roommate moved out and 2 strange women were staying in the house, and then suddenly an older woman. We thought maybe it was family or friends, but they weren't. Apparently, each individual room upstairs is being rented out as a room share. The landlord's son and wife are moving out as well, so each room will be rented out. I am not comfortable with the constant coming and going of people, most of which will not be staying here that long. It's not what I feel we moved into and with my daughter in the house, I feel like this is a safety issue. Especially since they have already had stuff stolen out of the basement, and our washing machine/dryer was used.

We are installing security cameras within the apt and have already moved our stuff upstairs that was in the basement.

We signed a 12 month lease. It doesn't seem to have any loop holes to get out of it without owing them the remainder of the year's rent. What can we do in this situation? I definitely do not want to stay.

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Landlord/tenant laws vary greatly from state to state. Google "landlord tenant law [your state]" to see what grounds there are for breaking a lease. Even if your lease does not specify if the lease can be broken, if there are state regulations allowing you to do so, you can. The state laws take precedence over individual leases.

Who lives upstairs from you isn't really a reason to break the lease. In a rental situation, you can't expect neighbors to stay.

However, the noise is a reason to complain. And so is the animal waste in the apartment. All that urine might be a health violation--so check the housing codes for your state/town. If you are going to be able to break the lease, it's going to be the noise or the animal waste that'll get you there--not who the upstairs neighbors are.

Do complain to the landlord about the noise. Do complain about the smell. Ask what the landlord is going to do about both.

You can still put down area rugs (which can go with you when you move) to cover your floors, if you think it will help with the noise.

What noise do you hear from upstairs? Is it just footsteps, or is it yelling or is it loud music? Many towns have noise ordinances, so you can call the police if the noise gets too loud.

Also, if you do end up leaving, the landlord cannot just leave your apartment empty and charge you rent. Most states have laws that the landlord must try to rent the apartment--posting ads, etc. If you do move out and still have to pay rent, keep an eye out for the ads for your old place. If the landlord does nothing, you can then get out of the lease. But again, you need to check your state's laws on this.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 9:46AM
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I moved into an older apartment building, that has 8 apartments. I'm guessing it was built somewhere in the 40's or 50's. It's the kind that still have the old disconnected gas pipes through the walls where they once would have had a gas light on each floor. Anyway, I live in an apartment with another apartment below me and and 2 above mine, on my side of the building. The man above me is a musician. I didn't know this before moving in. Within a few short weeks of living here I met him. He was sitting on the stoop with the handy man chatting when I approached the stoop I introduced myself to him. He displayed a blanc look on his face. I told him I love music and I can hear him clearly while he practices. I even asked where he plays out, and he responded Brooklyn. i suggested that if he lets me know when he is playing, that I would go to see his show. The handyman chimed into the conversation and I learned he had a large band. I offered information about my relatives who play instruments and they built a sound proof room so they didn't disturb others in their house. I suggested (very politely and within the conversation contents) that he might want to consider soundproofing too. He didn't acknowledge me, however the sound proofing idea was being discussed by both of them when I entered the building and politely wished they have a good day. I believe all went well since they continued the conversation on sound proofing. After several weeks of listening to loud foot tapping over me and musical instruments being played and usually the same notes over and over again and again, I realized that their practice time, grew a little more each day as time went on . When I first moves in I was working then lost my job. so I am here day after day and became aware that they were not only living upstairs but using the apartment as a sound/music studio. They have drums. clarinet, and other horns that I am not able to distinguish the names, but go from high pitches to extremely low pitches. They practice and practice continually tapping their feet to the tempo. As they play faster and louder they tap harder into the floor to the point that pieces of ceiling fall onto my floor. when they hook up the horns to amplifiers and other musical equipment it electrifies the sounds and vibrates through the ceiling, shaking the ceiling fan and lights, the water pipes and the radiators and windows and everything else in the apartment. I swear the floor vibrates too, even though the music is coming through the ceiling above me. if i had a job and money I would quietly move, but immediately, Unfortunately I can't afford it at this time. I have found myself yelling up to them and asking them to please stop tapping their feet on the floor because the ceiling is falling and everything is vibrating. I have to ask several times and then they stop usually by adding several stops on the floor. It reminds me of what a child would do when they are rebelling. But these aren't children. I put up with this thinking the chain of command was the handyman to the landlord which is what the handyman I moved told me when I moved in and I had no reason not to believe him. But it has been over 2 years and nothing has been done. The reason I waited was although I pay my rent but occasionally I get behind about 5-10 days. But I believed the landlord was getting the information from the handyman, after all he is now the superintendent of this building. Yet It has gotten worse since I first moved in. It was him and one other, now she lives with him. i believe their are others as well living there from time to time and they all play instruments together. I lost my cool and yelled up to the ceiling one day a few weeks ago when they played from about 2pm until after 11pm. I am sorry for being so wordy here but I wanted to give you as much of a picture as posible. Is there anything I can do, just short of moving? Thank You

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Why not move?

Or why not contact the landlord? Of course the handyman isn't communicating with the landlord about this--he's one of the people playing the instruments. If bits of the ceiling are falling, I'm guessing the landlord would want to know that the building is being damaged.

Honestly, I would have left after the first lease was up.

You can also find out if your town/city has any noise regulations--it might be possible to call the police after a certain hour if they are making too much noise.

I've lived below a music student (he played the trumpet mainly, but also keyboards and guitar and flute) and it can get noisy. But he only played during the day, not at night. So it's not that I'm not sympathetic to your problem, but really, you have had it in your power to move twice--but you continue to renew your lease.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Any communication of complaints should be in writing or they bear no weight.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 5:17PM
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You should of first notified the landlord about the urine and etc... before moving in and let the landlord clean things up! That was a bad mistake on your part. He might of let you out of the lease. The only way you can get out of the lease is to show by your actions - letters, noise recordings, etc.... that it is not an environment that you can live in. Too noise in other words.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:12AM
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