Paint chips keep falling on my head
December 14, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Rain damaged my apartment's ceiling. What rights and remedies do I have as a tenant?

I live in a top floor apartment in New York City. I came home on Friday to find an approximately 1' x 1' hole in the ceiling where the paint and plaster had peeled off the ceiling and exposed insulation. A little bit of water and some paint chips were on my rug and the floor. The area is next to a chimney and, judging from the patches, has been repaired before.

Of course I would like this to be repaired, but I am worried about lead paint, asbestos, and other bad stuff that is in the ceiling. Since it is a studio, I do not have another room to move my stuff into.

Since it is the weekend, the super knows, but no repairs have been made and I would rather them not be made without being able to get my belongings out of the way. I called 311 about the lead paint hazard, but I have to file a complaint before they will come test and I need to talk to the landlord first (no calls have been returned because it is the weekend).

1) Can I get out of my lease because of this?
2) Does the landlord subsidize my move?
3) What is the typical solution to this problem?
posted by Frank Grimes to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) No
2) No
3) A 1.5 x 1.5 piece of cardboard taped over the hole until someone can get around to dealing with it.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:19 PM on December 14, 2008

Seconding DarlingBri, minimize further damage until the professionals can take care of it.
BTW, good news to hear that you no longer live above a bowling alley and underneath another bowling alley! Way to go Grimey.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:19 PM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

1) Depends on the terms of the lease but, almost certainly, no.
2) Depends on the terms of the lease but, generally, you pay a prorated amount of the month's rent based on how many days the premises was fit for habilitability.
3) Typically the tenant puts up with the hole until Monday, choosing to stay with a friend or in a Red Roof Inn if its too bad.
posted by letahl at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

4) Relax a bit. Yeah, it sucks having a leak and a hole in your ceiling. Especially in winter. And your landlord has a responsibility to take care of it promptly. But the potentially lead paint chips aren't going to kill you and present no hazard to you. Unless you're a small child that is going to eat the chips. Also, while I'm not going to minimize the risks of asbestos, if it is present it's probably most likely to be present in vermiculite insulation (not all vermiculite contains asbestos) and should present a much lower risk than free asbestos (which would more typically have been used for high heat applications). Other common insulation types that are not asbestos bearing are fiberglass, rockwool or mineral, and cellulose. I'll leave that as an exercise for you to google pictures of the various types.
posted by 6550 at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2008

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