Can I break my office lease due to noise level?

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Can I break my office lease due to noise level?

I have a question here. My office building was continuously generating noise
through a lot of projects during working hours and greatly affect my normal
business operation. I want to move out of the building but I do have 3 years
left on the lease. Can I sue the building to break the lease due to this noise
problem? Thanks

Asked on September 29, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If the noise is being generated by the landlord or by someone under the landlord's control (e.g. contractors working on the building) and the landlord will not correct or abate the problem despite written notice and after a reasonable opportunity (e.g. a reasonable amount of time, under the circumstances) to do so, you *may* be able to treat your lease as terminated due to the landlord's denial of "quiet enjoyment" (your right to use the premises without undue disturbance) and/or violation  of the "implied warranty of habitability," or your right to space usable for its intended purpose.
The reason I write "might" is that to be able to legally terminate your lease, the noise must be not merely somewhat annoying, but must be so distruptive or disturbing that you effectively cannot use the space. This is inherently a subjective determination or evaluation: if you end up in court over this (e.g. the landlord sues you for the remaining rent you would owe under the lease), a judge and/or jury will decide if the noise was that bad--and since there is no objective measure or standard, it is possible they will disagree, feel you could and should have lived with noise, and hold you accountable under the lease. Therefore, there is an element of risk to doing this.
And again: no matter how bad the noise, it must be due to something the landlord is doing or is responsible for. The landlord is not responsible for community noise or noise from, say, someone else's construction next door. If the noise is not due to the landlord, the landlord is not doing anything wrong and is not violating his obligations; therefore, you may *not* get out of the lease.


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