Author Topic: Apartment living: no advance notice given for work to be done in our place  (Read 1128 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey all,

So we had a little 'incident' this AM at our apartment rental where we got a knock on the door and it turned out to be an AC repair/installation crew, announcing they need to come in to start the work...huh? I didn't open any maintenance requests. They said that they're replacing the AC/Furnace for our unit and the unit below ours. This was unannounced and no prior notice was given. Since I didn't quite know what to do, and it seemed urgent, we cleaned up the place and cleared some space for them to come in. This is an interruption with my kids having online classes and I'm WFH. But we're currently making due as they lay down tarps, prep and walk all over the place (without shoe coverings, which we have requested in any and all prior unrelated work requests). The assistant manager called me and said that the work originally is for the unit below but the access point is in our unit (there's attic entry access and other access that they need in our place to work on the downstairs unit). She said that we were *supposed* to have gotten notice of entry at least a few days ago. I told her we got nothing at all - no phone call and no email.

I mean, since we already let them in and have them working on our place, I'm guessing there's not a whole lot we can do now.... or am I wrong? Is there any sort of recourse? What bothers me most besides the unannounced visit/no prior notification is them not wearing shoe coverings or being willing to remove their shoes to lay down their tarps (we don't wear shoes in our place) and then COVID with them working inside our place in close proximity. We have our air purifier on high and the windows open for cross-ventilation at least. This whole thing is supposed to take all day apparently. My wife and kids will be out after lunch. But I'm pretty upset, flustered and confused with everything going on.

In fact, one of the workers just came up to me 15 mins ago and told me they need to access the storage closet and that I have to clear everything out of it. I have a lot of stuff in there...currently clearing it out now. Really not happy with any of this. I've lived at several apartments and have never experienced this kind of incompetence before.

« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 01:04:52 PM by jeromedawg »

Dicey

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WTF? Make them put you up in a hotel until the work is finished. A place with suites so you can do work and school.
I can't believe you let them in your house. IMO, that was a mistake. There's a pandemic on, remember? Call your LL asap.

nereo

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Hey all,

So we had a little 'incident' this AM at our apartment rental where we got a knock on the door and it turned out to be an AC repair/installation crew, announcing they need to come in to start the work...huh? I didn't open any maintenance requests. They said that they're replacing the AC/Furnace for our unit and the unit below ours. This was unannounced and no prior notice was given. Since I didn't quite know what to do, and it seemed urgent, we cleaned up the place and cleared some space for them to come in. This is an interruption with my kids having online classes and I'm WFH. But we're currently making due as they lay down tarps, prep and walk all over the place (without shoe coverings, which we have requested in any and all prior unrelated work requests). The assistant manager called me and said that the work originally is for the unit below but the access point is in our unit (there's attic entry access and other access that they need in our place to work on the downstairs unit). She said that we were *supposed* to have gotten notice of entry at least a few days ago. I told her we got nothing at all - no phone call and no email.

I mean, since we already let them in and have them working on our place, I'm guessing there's not a whole lot we can do now.... or am I wrong? Is there any sort of recourse? What bothers me most besides the unannounced visit/no prior notification is them not wearing shoe coverings or being willing to remove their shoes to lay down their tarps (we don't wear shoes in our place) and then COVID with them working inside our place in close proximity. We have our air purifier on high and the windows open for cross-ventilation at least. This whole thing is supposed to take all day apparently. My wife and kids will be out after lunch. But I'm pretty upset, flustered and confused with everything going on.

In fact, one of the workers just came up to me 15 mins ago and told me they need to access the storage closet and that I have to clear everything out of it. I have a lot of stuff in there...currently clearing it out now. Really not happy with any of this. I've lived at several apartments and have never experienced this kind of incompetence before.

It is still your home.  You can tell them to leave.  They cannot be there without your permission.
Check with your state laws, of course, but except in extreme circumstances where delay would cause permanent damage or a safety hazard you are within your rights to tell them to take a hike and come back tomorrow when you have had time to prepare.

This is on the landlord, ultimately. 

jeromedawg

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It's a property mgmt company - we've drafted an email to them. We ultimately let them in and they're doing the work so it's too late at this point to kick them out I think. They're supposed to be done by end of day. But the scope of work seems pretty major. I don't know how they could have let this one slip through the cracks. Anyway, I don't know what course of action we have at the moment since we let them in. I'm assuming none...?

FWIW: I originally just told the guy to come up and scope the work that needs to be done before laying stuff down. But he came right in and just started laying down tarps and started the work. Then went on to say how they need to cut open walls in the storage closet... at this point we are somewhat "settled" with the work going on. My wife/kids are leaving soon so I'll be around to watch the place.

I think the nature of the request was 'urgent' presumably because the downstairs neighbors weren't getting heat to their unit (and it has been colder...well, colder for SoCal LOL). Just an unconfirmed assumption so I don't know if that plays a factor in any of this.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 01:25:02 PM by jeromedawg »

windytrail

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Here are a few resources for California, which has strong tenant protections compared to some other states:

http://www.cesinaction.org/Portals/0/Landlord%20Right%20to%20Entry.pdf

https://caltenantlaw.com/landlord-intrusions/

http://www.lapublichealth.org/eh/docs/housing/brochure/tenright.pdf (at p.33)

https://www.tobenerlaw.com/landlords-prohibited-from-entering-without-notice/


Because you consented, there may have been no legal violation. Cal. Civ. Code ß 195(e)("No notice of entry is required under this section...(2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry."). However, if this is affecting your family's ability to live (WFH, school, etc) then perhaps you should demand that the landlord pay for your stay at a hotel until maintenance is finished, if not finished by today. Or, demand that you receive a discount for next month due to the inconvenience. You can often get a quicker response by phone than by email.

Next time, remember that you do not have to let anyone in unless it's an emergency (i.e. broken water pipe, fire, etc.).

PMJL34

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Sounds stressful. Next time don't let them in. For this time, just let them finish. It won't be fun to have exposed walls and they need to come back anyway to finish. Send the management a demand to have x amount of dollar compensation for the inappropriateness and inconvenience. 

nereo

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It's a property mgmt company - we've drafted an email to them. We ultimately let them in and they're doing the work so it's too late at this point to kick them out I think. They're supposed to be done by end of day. But the scope of work seems pretty major. I don't know how they could have let this one slip through the cracks. Anyway, I don't know what course of action we have at the moment since we let them in. I'm assuming none...?

FWIW: I originally just told the guy to come up and scope the work that needs to be done before laying stuff down.  But he came right in and just started laying down tarps and started the work. Then went on to say how they need to cut open walls in the storage closet... at this point we are somewhat "settled" with the work going on. My wife/kids are leaving soon so I'll be around to watch the place.

I think the nature of the request was 'urgent' presumably because the downstairs neighbors weren't getting heat to their unit (and it has been colder...well, colder for SoCal LOL). Just an unconfirmed assumption so I don't know if that plays a factor in any of this.

Sounds like the workers sensed there might be an issue so they were quick to set up before you could say "no".  I'd still draft a letter of complaint with your property management company, and potentially contact the BBB.  Since you let them in I'm not sure what recourse you have beyond that.  In the future 'emergencies' are things which must be fixed immediately or permanent damage or bodily harm may result.  Think a gas leak or a broken water pipe. Ask the question: "Will this be a lot worse in 6 hours?"  If the answer is 'Not really" it doesn't fit the emergency criteria. HVAC issues in SoCal certainly don't count (Your downstairs neighbor could have gone to a motel for instance).

jeromedawg

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It's a property mgmt company - we've drafted an email to them. We ultimately let them in and they're doing the work so it's too late at this point to kick them out I think. They're supposed to be done by end of day. But the scope of work seems pretty major. I don't know how they could have let this one slip through the cracks. Anyway, I don't know what course of action we have at the moment since we let them in. I'm assuming none...?

FWIW: I originally just told the guy to come up and scope the work that needs to be done before laying stuff down.  But he came right in and just started laying down tarps and started the work. Then went on to say how they need to cut open walls in the storage closet... at this point we are somewhat "settled" with the work going on. My wife/kids are leaving soon so I'll be around to watch the place.

I think the nature of the request was 'urgent' presumably because the downstairs neighbors weren't getting heat to their unit (and it has been colder...well, colder for SoCal LOL). Just an unconfirmed assumption so I don't know if that plays a factor in any of this.

Sounds like the workers sensed there might be an issue so they were quick to set up before you could say "no".  I'd still draft a letter of complaint with your property management company, and potentially contact the BBB.  Since you let them in I'm not sure what recourse you have beyond that.  In the future 'emergencies' are things which must be fixed immediately or permanent damage or bodily harm may result.  Think a gas leak or a broken water pipe. Ask the question: "Will this be a lot worse in 6 hours?"  If the answer is 'Not really" it doesn't fit the emergency criteria. HVAC issues in SoCal certainly don't count (Your downstairs neighbor could have gone to a motel for instance).

Yea I feel stupid for letting them in... but it is what it is at this point. I 'panicked' and am now paying for it.
I've reached out to my legal network to try to get some direction. But yea, the workers were all setup with stuff laying all over the ground outside, so there was some pressure there too. One of them pointed out "this isn't the first time this has happened" as well.


jeromedawg

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Here are a few resources for California, which has strong tenant protections compared to some other states:

http://www.cesinaction.org/Portals/0/Landlord%20Right%20to%20Entry.pdf

https://caltenantlaw.com/landlord-intrusions/

http://www.lapublichealth.org/eh/docs/housing/brochure/tenright.pdf (at p.33)

https://www.tobenerlaw.com/landlords-prohibited-from-entering-without-notice/


Because you consented, there may have been no legal violation. Cal. Civ. Code ß 195(e)("No notice of entry is required under this section...(2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry."). However, if this is affecting your family's ability to live (WFH, school, etc) then perhaps you should demand that the landlord pay for your stay at a hotel until maintenance is finished, if not finished by today. Or, demand that you receive a discount for next month due to the inconvenience. You can often get a quicker response by phone than by email.

Next time, remember that you do not have to let anyone in unless it's an emergency (i.e. broken water pipe, fire, etc.).

Yea, lesson learned. This is literally the first time I've had to deal with crap like this so had no idea how to navigate it and we were being pressured by the HVAC company (reasonably so because they likely scheduled this work out). Supposedly the work will be done by today but I feel severely limited in what we can even do inside of our home. We already sent out a letter to the management office expressing that we are upset with the current situation. But will likely follow-up asking for some form of 'compensation' (? not sure that's the right term in these circumstances).

It has basically turned into a construction zone in here with them cutting and sawing into walls, hammering and pounding things, etc. The HVAC company/workers have mostly all written it off like "this is easy work no big deal we'll be quick and it won't be noisy. we'll be done soon" to justify it and and minimize the impact.

nereo

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Here are a few resources for California, which has strong tenant protections compared to some other states:

http://www.cesinaction.org/Portals/0/Landlord%20Right%20to%20Entry.pdf

https://caltenantlaw.com/landlord-intrusions/

http://www.lapublichealth.org/eh/docs/housing/brochure/tenright.pdf (at p.33)

https://www.tobenerlaw.com/landlords-prohibited-from-entering-without-notice/


Because you consented, there may have been no legal violation. Cal. Civ. Code ß 195(e)("No notice of entry is required under this section...(2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry."). However, if this is affecting your family's ability to live (WFH, school, etc) then perhaps you should demand that the landlord pay for your stay at a hotel until maintenance is finished, if not finished by today. Or, demand that you receive a discount for next month due to the inconvenience. You can often get a quicker response by phone than by email.

Next time, remember that you do not have to let anyone in unless it's an emergency (i.e. broken water pipe, fire, etc.).

Yea, lesson learned. This is literally the first time I've had to deal with crap like this so had no idea how to navigate it and we were being pressured by the HVAC company (reasonably so because they likely scheduled this work out). Supposedly the work will be done by today but I feel severely limited in what we can even do inside of our home. We already sent out a letter to the management office expressing that we are upset with the current situation. But will likely follow-up asking for some form of 'compensation' (? not sure that's the right term in these circumstances).

It has basically turned into a construction zone in here with them cutting and sawing into walls, hammering and pounding things, etc. The HVAC company/workers have mostly all written it off like "this is easy work no big deal we'll be quick and it won't be noisy. we'll be done soon" to justify it and and minimize the impact.

Document everything. 
Make notes of every wall they cut open, every surface that needs to be vacuumed or cleaned, every closet you need to clean out. Insist that they return everything to the state it was in, including paint and vacuuming up all debris.  If something needs to be moved, that's what the workers are for, not you.  If the workers refuse, call the property management company and tell them they must send a cleaning service to complete the work.  Only do it yourself as a last resort (or if you don't feel comfortable having more people in during Covid... lord knows I don't).

Equally important - record all the time you spend dealing with this.  If you lose 3 hours of work because you had to clear out a closet, document that. Include what your hourly wage (or equivalent) is for lost productivity. If you have to spend hours cleaning up, record that.

Your recourse going forward may come down to what damages you suffered as a result of the property management company not giving you sufficient warning.

jeromedawg

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Here are a few resources for California, which has strong tenant protections compared to some other states:

http://www.cesinaction.org/Portals/0/Landlord%20Right%20to%20Entry.pdf

https://caltenantlaw.com/landlord-intrusions/

http://www.lapublichealth.org/eh/docs/housing/brochure/tenright.pdf (at p.33)

https://www.tobenerlaw.com/landlords-prohibited-from-entering-without-notice/


Because you consented, there may have been no legal violation. Cal. Civ. Code ß 195(e)("No notice of entry is required under this section...(2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry."). However, if this is affecting your family's ability to live (WFH, school, etc) then perhaps you should demand that the landlord pay for your stay at a hotel until maintenance is finished, if not finished by today. Or, demand that you receive a discount for next month due to the inconvenience. You can often get a quicker response by phone than by email.

Next time, remember that you do not have to let anyone in unless it's an emergency (i.e. broken water pipe, fire, etc.).

Yea, lesson learned. This is literally the first time I've had to deal with crap like this so had no idea how to navigate it and we were being pressured by the HVAC company (reasonably so because they likely scheduled this work out). Supposedly the work will be done by today but I feel severely limited in what we can even do inside of our home. We already sent out a letter to the management office expressing that we are upset with the current situation. But will likely follow-up asking for some form of 'compensation' (? not sure that's the right term in these circumstances).

It has basically turned into a construction zone in here with them cutting and sawing into walls, hammering and pounding things, etc. The HVAC company/workers have mostly all written it off like "this is easy work no big deal we'll be quick and it won't be noisy. we'll be done soon" to justify it and and minimize the impact.

Document everything. 
Make notes of every wall they cut open, every surface that needs to be vacuumed or cleaned, every closet you need to clean out. Insist that they return everything to the state it was in, including paint and vacuuming up all debris.  If something needs to be moved, that's what the workers are for, not you.  If the workers refuse, call the property management company and tell them they must send a cleaning service to complete the work.  Only do it yourself as a last resort (or if you don't feel comfortable having more people in during Covid... lord knows I don't).

Equally important - record all the time you spend dealing with this.  If you lose 3 hours of work because you had to clear out a closet, document that. Include what your hourly wage (or equivalent) is for lost productivity. If you have to spend hours cleaning up, record that.

Your recourse going forward may come down to what damages you suffered as a result of the property management company not giving you sufficient warning.

My wife went around taking pictures of the areas that are impacted. It's hard documenting everything as we also don't want to be in the way or too close to the workers. I cleared out the storage closet myself because I didn't want them touching any of my stuff. I feel the same way about most other items in our apartment - anything that needs to be moved (mostly personal belongings), we're moving it not them.

EDIT: they just went out to lunch so I guess I can take pictures, etc.

The phone lawyer I spoke with basically advised that I not seek any sort of abatement of rent and just to write a letter to property management pointing out my rights as a tenant and that I expect those rights to be observed and upheld by the landlord or else in the future I might seek abatement of rent (all this for the purpose of remaining on "good terms").  She was just a general phone advice lawyer though. I've been trying to reach out to a lawyer practicing tenant law.


jeromedawg

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The initial email we sent with our complaint (not asking for anything like reduced rent or abatement of rent but directly inquiring why prior notice wasn't given and what will be done to prevent this from happening in the future) was met with a pretty generic/canned response:


"Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. There is absolutely no excuse for this and this will be addressed. I truly apologize for this oversight. This is not [name of property mgmt group] standards."

Paul der Krake

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I donít think being inconvenienced for a day and having to move a bunch of things around amounts to any meaningful loss. Yeah they messed up, it sucks, but that doesnít mean you need to lawyer up.

Dicey

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I donít think being inconvenienced for a day and having to move a bunch of things around amounts to any meaningful loss. Yeah they messed up, it sucks, but that doesnít mean you need to lawyer up.
Sorry, pandemic changes everything. I wouldn't have agreed with this statement pre-pandemic, and I vehemently disagree now. It sounds like they totally played you. Yes, you let them in for an inspection, despite the lack of warning, but you did not agree with the actual initiation of the work.

Don't bother with the BBB, they're toothless. Absent sufficient action from the owner/property owner, you can more effectively conduct business in the Court of Public Opinion, but only if you don't want your lease renewed.

Paul der Krake

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I donít think being inconvenienced for a day and having to move a bunch of things around amounts to any meaningful loss. Yeah they messed up, it sucks, but that doesnít mean you need to lawyer up.
Sorry, pandemic changes everything. I wouldn't have agreed with this statement pre-pandemic, and I vehemently disagree now. It sounds like they totally played you. Yes, you let them in for an inspection, despite the lack of warning, but you did not agree with the actual initiation of the work.

Don't bother with the BBB, they're toothless. Absent sufficient action from the owner/property owner, you can more effectively conduct business in the Court of Public Opinion, but only if you don't want your lease renewed.
If OP or someone in his family is infected, sure, that will be some juicy losses to show a judge. But so far itís a hypothetical loss.

jeromedawg

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I don’t think being inconvenienced for a day and having to move a bunch of things around amounts to any meaningful loss. Yeah they messed up, it sucks, but that doesn’t mean you need to lawyer up.
Sorry, pandemic changes everything. I wouldn't have agreed with this statement pre-pandemic, and I vehemently disagree now. It sounds like they totally played you. Yes, you let them in for an inspection, despite the lack of warning, but you did not agree with the actual initiation of the work.

Don't bother with the BBB, they're toothless. Absent sufficient action from the owner/property owner, you can more effectively conduct business in the Court of Public Opinion, but only if you don't want your lease renewed.

Yea. Terrible and unprofessional. We signed a "year lease" that we're able to break without penalty with 30 days written notice (due to COVID...). At first they didn't want to honor it, after the "curve had flattened" and things settled but I got it 'in writing' per an email exchange and the property manager agreed to "honor" the promotion. I'm *hoping* not to be in this place for much longer either way. At a minimum, we just need to be here through March to have our son get accepted into the program then we can move to another complex that hopefully has a staff who can do logistics/planning better than this one (or possibly into a home if we find one).  I just hope that none of us have COVID now :(

The HVAC company finished up about 20 minutes ago. So they were literally here all day :( I'm impressed by the amount of work they knocked out and I think they might still be working on the downstairs unit right now but I'm infuriated at our property mgmt company. I know most of those companies just plain suck but these guys just set the bar lower.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 09:42:39 PM by jeromedawg »

Dicey

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I donít think being inconvenienced for a day and having to move a bunch of things around amounts to any meaningful loss. Yeah they messed up, it sucks, but that doesnít mean you need to lawyer up.
Sorry, pandemic changes everything. I wouldn't have agreed with this statement pre-pandemic, and I vehemently disagree now. It sounds like they totally played you. Yes, you let them in for an inspection, despite the lack of warning, but you did not agree with the actual initiation of the work.

Don't bother with the BBB, they're toothless. Absent sufficient action from the owner/property owner, you can more effectively conduct business in the Court of Public Opinion, but only if you don't want your lease renewed.
If OP or someone in his family is infected, sure, that will be some juicy losses to show a judge. But so far itís a hypothetical loss.
Sorry, we're under much stricter Covid restrictions in CA right now. He absolutely had the right to refuse. CA also has pretty strong renter's rights. Sounds like it's a moot point now though.