My new apt. is horrible! Help me!

alibonOctober 8, 2006

I just moved into my own apt. two months ago. It's the first time I am living alone; I wanted to not deal with roommates and have peace and quiet since I work full-time as well as going to school part-time. The apt. is in a really nice area and I am able to afford it because it is a basement apartment and includes utilities. Upon moving in, I heard there was a family that lived above me with a three year old but my thoughts were "Great- they wonÂt be partiers and will be in bed early". But I didn't think about the noise that would travel to my apt. from the three year old constantly running around and jumping. I understand that children run around a lot so the main problem is that there is little or no insulation between our apartments because I hear stomping and thumping ALL THE TIME! Luckily, they donÂt stay up late but the other week, two days in a row, I heard them almost all day consistently. IÂm at the point where I wear earplugs and have the bathroom and kitchen fans on every time I am home. But I can STILL hear the thumping. It sounds like someone is hammering on my ceiling. I avoid my house before 9pm (when the kid usually goes to bed- but sometimes heÂs up until ten and the parents are not that quiet either).

The other thing is that I specifically asked my landlord if there had been break-ins in the building since I was concerned about living alone on a ground floor apt. He told me that there have not been any. But I found out from two neighbors that there have been 3-4 in the past couple of years (one early this year) and one was into my present unit!

I wrote a letter to my landlord telling him I know that thereÂs been break-ins and that I want him to put bars on the backdoor window of the building, which leads to my apartment. This is where the burglar broke in last time. I also documented that the noise level from the apartment above is far beyond average. I have not heard from him at all.

Basically, I want to know what my rights are and if I am able to break my lease based on these complaints. I am also researching whether or not my basement apartment was a legal conversion. If it is not, I can get out of my lease easily but if it is legal, I need another way out. Please help me! I cannot live here for a year!

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Have you spoken politely to the folks upstairs? They have to live, so they can't not walk around. But they can so SOME things to mitigate noise.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 10:27AM
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I'm not allowed to put bars on windows due to a local fire code. The fact that he lied about the break in is very disturbing. I HATE LIARS!!!!! I had an apartment where the tenant thought someone broke in but didn't steal anything. I disclosed that to all tenants looking. I also let them know in advance about the neighbors, insects, bats, past pets, etc.

What do you mean by "leagal conversion" You could probably contact your local building and saftey to see if permits were pulled. Not sure if it would matter either way as far as breaking a lease.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 12:40AM
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I would encourage you to not take 'word of mouth', but head straight to the local police department and ask, so you have documentation. They should be able to give you copies of any reports of an break-in incidents at your address. Doubtful your landlord is going to put bars on a window that's a potential fire escape. That's asking for major liability.

I'm no lawyer, but misleading someone about crime in order to get them comfortable enough to sign a binding contract doesn't sound above board. Perhaps that's your leverage out, moreso than the noise?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 8:42AM
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definitely check to see if the apartment is legal. Many times in NYC (not sure where you are) people rent out their basements illegally (i.e. making a one family house into a two family when it is zoned only for a one family, etc). This might be your best route. It's possible that since your rent includes utilities, it may be an illegal unit, as this is one sign of an illegal unit.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 12:43AM
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To follow up on my posting...I did find out that the unit is most likely NOT legal. I am going to talk to a lawyer next week. There were no permits to make the building a ten unit building from an 8 unit building and it is still documented as an 8 unit building. I am happy that I may have a way out of this hell! I may even be able to get all my rent back and have my landlord pay for my moving costs. But we'll see if my landlord lets me out of this by paying me. If not, I'm filing a complaint with the city and he'll have to pay way more in fines and taxes.

The problem now is finding another place. Hopefully I'll have better luck this time...

Thanks for all your advice to those that responded.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 4:56PM
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Sorry to hear that your first venture into a solo apartment is so disheartening, especially since you were smart enough to ask questions beforehand. And clearly you're smarter than most people in that you've thought to document the noise and send the landlord a letter, rather than just telephoning.

Hoping you don't have to spend too much on a lawyer...I wonder what would happen if you just wrote a stern letter to your landlord, saying that since he misled you about the safety and has refused to respond helpfully to your concerns (although I don't think you said how long it's been since your letter), you feel justified in asking to abrogate the lease (if that's the right word). Maybe he'd let you off the hook, since he'll understand that you're no pushover.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 9:03PM
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Until you are able to move out, I'd like to make a suggestion for security around your windows.

Measure your windows and go to a hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc). Buy several cheap pieces of wood that will fit in each of the windows. Glue broken glass to these and place them where any prying hands will encounter this little surprise. Nails pounded through to the other side also work. Put stuff on the floor that will make a clattering noise if that boundary is breached.

Keep your cell phone next to your bed and have it set on speed dial for the cops.

Hope you get out of there and into a place with a better history of safety. Don't forget to tell your noisy neighbors why your moving out AFTER you have signed a new lease and are on the way out! Lying landlords deserve what they get.

Good luck

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 6:22PM
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I would not do anything to injure someone breaking in as was suggested in the last post. They would be able to sue you and you would be liable possibly. Noise makers are an excellent idea, however!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 7:45PM
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Bars are against fire code in most places.

"But I found out from two neighbors that there have been 3-4 in the past couple of years (one early this year) and one was into my present unit!": Are you sure they are telling you the truth? People exagerate, or get things wrong. I had one tenant telling people that there was a robbery in our building, when actually it occurred two buildings away.

Music blasting at 2am is unreasonable, people moving around during normal waking hours is reasonable.

There is no guarantee in any home or building that there will never be a crime. Most apartment robberies are by people who know the tenant. Just because there may have been a break in years ago in your unit does not make it unsafe.

So you chose the cheapest apartment available, and now are going to screw the owner because you did not realize that in a basement apartment someone would be living above you? You sound like a great person.

Why don't you just sublease the apartment out to someone else?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 6:27PM
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