Tenant Rights: NYC Building Renovation Causes Noise & Dust

A Brownstoner reader who rents an apartment in East Williamsburg just resigned a lease with a hiked-up monthly rent — but then the landlord began a disruptive gut renovation.

Commenter nicanica writes:

I am a tenant who recently renewed a lease in a 4-unit building in East Williamsburg. The rent went up $400, which I protested because the building has been neglected over the years and is in disrepair in a variety of ways. I ended up re-signing anyway, which I now regret, because a month later the landlords have begun gut renovating every unit in the building except for mine. The halls are filled with dust, the building is loud, and the landlords have employed someone to “live” in the apartment below mine for “security”. This person chain-smokes right below my bedroom all night and begins loud construction work at 7:30 every morning. Meanwhile the main hallway and entrance to the building are just trashed. Do I have any recourse? Is it within the landlord’s legal rights to do this kind of work without informing tenants ahead of time? I’ve been reading the tenants bill of rights and this seems to be a gray area, so I was wondering if at least there needs to be a DOB permit posted in one of the main areas. Thanks to anyone who has some information for me on anything I can do, or anything my landlord is required to do.

What are the tenant’s rights here? Commenters suggest this shouldn’t be difficult to get out of — what do you suggest the poster do? Chime in over in the Forum.

Have answers? Need help with something? Visit the Brownstoner Forum.


Twin apartment buildings designed by prolific Queens-based architect Gerald Caliendo are rising at 9 and 11 Orient Avenue in East Williamsburg. The site was previously home to a 19th century Italianate wood-frame house and garage.

Like the development now sweeping Flatbush, many apartment buildings have replaced older frame houses on large lots in this section of East Williamsburg in the last decade. The most notable to meet the wrecking ball was a Second Empire mansion on the same block at 59 Orient Avenue that starred in the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” then was taken over by squatters.

The film’s director, Michael Gondry, reportedly lived on the block, but didn’t save it. It was demolished in 2010 and is now an eight-unit rental building. (more…)


Outwardly, there is not much sign of progress at 850 Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg, where one of Brooklyn’s busiest developers, Boaz Gilad’s Brookland Capital, plans to convert an old condensed milk factory into condos. And indeed, a dive into the permits reveals construction has not yet started.

We have high hopes for this project, which has a very attractive rendering that shows a contrasting modern addition. The new design is actually more interesting than the existing factory and enhances it, in our opinion.

But building rules may prevent it from happening. After closing on the property in July of last year for $9,350,000, the developer filed an application for alteration permit in December, intending to add a fourth story and 34 apartments. The permit has not yet been issued, and zoning approval (or disapproval) is pending, DOB records reveal. (more…)

150 richardson street interior 1

Since empty lots and industrial properties near the BQE seem to be the final frontier of Williamsburg real estate, yet another condo building has hit the market there at 150 Richardson Street. The factory-inspired eight-unit development currently has three condos up for grabs, with one-bedrooms starting at $949,000.

The cheapest one-bedroom, #2B, clocks in at 727 square feet with a 155-square-foot balcony. (That’s works out to $1,075 $1,305 per square foot, for those of you keeping score at home.) The next one up is #2A, a similarly sized one-bedroom topped with a 327-square-foot private roof deck asking $989,000. And the priciest listing so far is #4A, a duplex two-bedroom with 964 square feet of interior space and a 381-square-foot roof deck that wants $1,395,000.

Christopher Papa Architects designed the project, which sports arched windows, exposed reclaimed brick “from a carriage and buggy factory,” exposed concrete columns and antique oak hardwood floors. Black Diamond Group developed it, and Withers & Grain handled the interiors. We think the finishes are appealing, if fairly typical for Williamsburg condos — blue shaker-style cabinets, quartzite counters, white subway-tile bathrooms. What’s your opinion of the look and the pricing?

150 Richardson Street Listings [StreetEasy] GMAP
150 Richardson Street [Official]
Renderings, Floor Plans, Teaser Site out for Small ‘Burg Condo Building [Brownstoner]


347-359 Flushing Avenue, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Industrial buildings and garages
Address: 347-359 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Classon and Kent avenues
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: Teens for the handsome brick garage, undetermined for the rest
Architectural Style: Taxpayer
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Ok, there is nothing significant or outstanding about these buildings. In fact, with the exception of the larger garage, which has some style, these are basic taxpayers: utilitarian buildings built to house rather humble pursuits. But, I chose these for a reason, because there is still a story here. A number of stories, actually, both past and present.

Before the BQE, back in the 1800s, this part of town was pretty much residential. Small tenement buildings, many with storefronts on the ground floor lined this side of Flushing Avenue, as well as a couple of houses. The people who lived here worked in the nearby factories, and at the Navy Yard. The buildings that stood where this group stands now were numbered 347-359 Flushing, and there were at least seven buildings here at the turn of the century. (more…)

695 grand street rendering

A long-in-the-works affordable rental project in Williamsburg is finally moving forward with new building applications filed last week for an eight-story, 51-unit building at 695 Grand Street. Community Board 1 approved the development last summer, as we reported at the time.

The building will have a mix of studios through three-bedrooms, with 41 apartments set aside for low- to moderate-income families, as reported last year. Ten apartments will be permanently affordable, and eight will be subsidized by Section 8 and reserved for very low-income tenants. There will also be 10,000 square feet of commercial space. Magnusson Architecture and Planning is designing the building, which will incorporate green features like hydroponic PTACs a high-efficiency gas boiler, and St. Nick’s Alliance is the developer.

Demolition permits have not been filed for the two buildings on the large property, a Rainbow clothing store and a discount shop. Click through to see what they look like.

Community Board OKs Affordable Housing on Grand Street in East Williamsburg [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering by Magnusson Architecture and Planning


21 Devoe Street, SSpellen 3

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Detached wood framed row house
Address: 21 Devoe Street
Cross Streets: Lorimer Street and Union Avenue
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: Before 1880
Architectural Style: Probably Italianate under the siding
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: With all of the hype around the Williamsburg being the epicenter of hip and happening Brooklyn, it’s often easy to forget that the neighborhood is much more than the modern towers and converted factories along the shoreline, or the homes and shuls of a huge Ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. There’s also a large portion, technically in East Williamsburg, on the Greenpoint border, with blocks of streets made up mostly of wood framed houses in various states of authenticity and condition. Devoe Street, between Union and Lorimer is one of them. Like many neighborhood streets, its building stock is a combination of older wood framed houses and newer infill construction.

I never spent a lot of time in Williamsburg, so wandering around there is always interesting. I stumbled across this street this last summer, in my quest for a parking space. And there was this little house, made up to be a pink castle. It’s hard to tell what it looked like under the siding, but I’m going to go with Italianate. (more…)

244 bushwick avenue bushwick 112014

The big selling point for this penthouse apartment at 228 Bushwick Avenue in East Williamsburg is the huge private roof deck. The way it spans the entire length of the apartment, with entrances from both the living room and the bedroom, is great. The rest of the one-bedroom unit is nicely proportioned and modern in style. As far as we can tell, the total indoor space comes to about 600 square feet. With an asking price of $844,000, that’s putting a high value on the deck!

228 Bushwick Avenue, #7A [Bond] GMAP

288 Jackson St. Gnpt Hosp. SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time

Address: 288 Jackson Avenue
Cross Streets: Kingsland, Maspeth and Debevoise Avenue
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: 1912-1914
Architectural Style: Northern Italian Renaissance Revival
Architect: Frank J. Helmle
Other Buildings by Architect: Bossert Hotel, St. Barbara’s Catholic Church, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, Prospect Park Boathouse, Greenpoint Savings Bank, Williamsburg Trust Bank, and many other buildings.
Landmarked: No, unfortunately

The story: As the population of a neighborhood or city grows, the need for more hospitals and medical care facilities also grow. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the population of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint had swelled to enormous proportions, and so had the industry in the area. Most of the people who most needed these facilities could not afford medical care or private hospitals, so the city’s Department of Public Charities decided to erect a new public hospital in the middle of these neighborhoods. (more…)

32 maspeth avenue east williamsburg

No unlandmarked wood frame house in Brooklyn is safe! Demolition permits have been filed to take down this two-story wood frame at 32 Maspeth Avenue in East Williamsburg; the owner hopes to replace it with a six-story apartment building.

Whenever we see a wide frame house in this area, one of the original Dutch settlements of Brooklyn, we wonder about its age, although this one doesn’t look much older the 19th century, at least from the outside. The settlement was deeded in 1638 and named Boswijck in 1661.

The new building will have nine units spread across 6,200 square feet of space, along with a roof deck, according to a new building application that was disapproved in July. The architect of record is Wieslawa Jasiulewicz Majran, and permits list the owner as Andrzej Potrapeluk. The two-family house sold for $1,275,000 last October, after about two months on the market.  GMAP

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

30-52 Sharon St, CB, PS 4

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Single family attached homes
Address: 30-52 Sharon Street
Cross Streets: Olive and Morgan avenues
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: 1940-41
Architect: Arthur E. Allen
Other Buildings by Architect: Similar projects for Insured Homes in Ridgewood, Astoria, St. Albans, Laurel Hill, and other parts of Queens
Landmarked: No

The story: Sharon Street is a one block enclave facing Cooper Park in East Williamsburg. Cooper Park, Sharon Street, and the surrounding area were all part of the estate once owned by Peter Cooper, of Cooper Union fame. A fascinating man with only a year of formal schooling, he became one of New York’s most successful industrialists, inventors and philanthropists. He helped lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable, designed and built the first functioning steam engine in the U.S., and patented powdered gelatin. (more…)