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Noise issues can lead to disputes between landlord and tenant

Picture this scenario: After months of searching, you find the perfect apartment in New York City. You've spent the day moving and unpacking. Unable to keep your eyes open, you crawl into bed. Suddenly a low rumbling rattles your walls and makes your eyes snap open. Turns out the subway is right underneath your apartment, and you never knew it would cause such a ruckus.

For one person living in Brooklyn, this is not a hypothetical situation. And it raises an interesting question: does the tenant have any rights in this situation? Could she break the lease?

Breaking a lease is an option, but that doesn't mean it comes without consequences. In a case like this, it can help a tenant to bolster his or her claim of excessive noise by having friends or family members experience and attest to the discomfort level, prepared to face the landlord and a judge as well (should things get that far).

In situations like this, there is also something for landlords to learn: Honesty is the best policy, the saying goes. Being up front with tenants about potential noise issues could save landlords from troublesome legal issues down the line. More specifically, tenants would not be able to claim that the landlord failed to inform them of a quality-of-life issue. 

Source: New York Times, "Can I Break My Lease Over Subway Noise?," Ronda Kaysen, March 19, 2016

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