Landlord negligence caused a fire in the apartment below me, causing significant damage in my apartment; had to temporarily relocate. Looking to explore my legal options/rights/advice.
My girlfriend and I live in a 90 year-old walkup building in downtown NYC. Last week in the mid-afternoon the management company performed renovations in the apartment below mine and started a fire. When the FDNY came to control it, they took some heavy axe action on my bedroom wall, ceiling, and floors. There is ash everywhere, and the smell is suffocating. Lots of clothes/shoes ruined or at least will be $100s in dry-cleaning (really we got lucky, this could have been way worse). We weren't notified when this happen, but when we both got home late after work (about 8 hours after fire) we had a Red Cross Disaster Services sticker on the door (they paid home a visit), then immediately called the super and he explained what happened.
Obviously we didn't sleep there. That night I emailed the management company requesting the lease break so I could start looking for new apartments. For work related reasons, I don't have time for this and just need a new stable situation. The next day they refused my request, but later I found out they hadn't yet come to the apartment to survey the damage. I was there the next day when they management company rep saw it and he was visibly stunned. They said they'd work through the weekend to try to fix all the damage and clean it up, so I'm out of state now at a relative's house. I took pictures of everything, emailed them to the landlord and the management company and requested a meeting next week. Also sent them a blog post which referenced their responsibility for starting the fire
. There are a number of other issues with the apartment (roof leaks, cracks, bugs, etc), and really I'd just like to get the hell out regardless. My law friends said I have a good case with Constructive Eviction, but if they fix the damage then that won't hold.
What do you think the best course of action is here, given either the management company or a subcontractor of the company started the fire? And they haven't exactly been helpful (never offered any temporary relocation by landlord).