Realtor Rents You Construction Zone Vacation Condo, Shrugs

Alex and his brother have been on vacation this week, renting a condo at the beach. Sounds fun and relaxing. Or it would be, if it weren’t for the construction workers re-siding the condo building. They’re tossing debris everywhere, including near cars, leaving tools and construction materials around off hours, and hammering at 8 A.M. It’s making these vacationers cranky, and the real estate agency that rented them the condo said that they would contact the owners, but hasn’t contacted them. The vacation is nearly over. What should they do?

I’m in a situation where I’m unsure how to proceed. I rented a condo with my brother in [redacted] for the week of June 23 to 30 through [redacted] realty, and when we arrived, the entire building was under construction for siding replacement.

The building is L-shaped and for Saturday and Sunday they were working on re-siding the other half of the building so the interruption was minimal other than our designated parking space being filled with construction materials.

But starting Monday very early morning they have been working near us and we have been woken up every morning by hammering since in the 8:00 hour, which really stinks for our one vacation a year and only opportunity to sleep in.

The conditions of the property otherwise have been pretty terrible – construction debris everywhere including in the pool, paths and exits blocked by tools and workers. We keep moving our car further and further from the building only to find near misses of siding and debris being thrown down from the second floor near the car. There are even exposed live electrical wires all over, since they took all the exterior lights off the building to do the siding. It is really not even a safe environment to be in at all. Thankfully we don’t have children with us.

We called the realtor we rented from ([redacted]) on Monday and she said she would contact the owners and get back to us. We have left 3 more messages with her since and I’ve even tried to call the owners of the condo directly. We stopped by the realty office too. No response whatsoever in 70 hours and counting. Had this been dealt with days ago, we might have salvaged a decent vacation out of it elsewhere had the realtor moved us or refunded our money so we could go to a hotel. But at this point, we are nearing the end of the vacation. I’m not sure what recourse we have at this point other than court?

We have documented everything at least and I have plenty of pictures of the conditions and audio of the noise on my phone.

Suggestions?

Scaffolding over one of the two stairs to the second floor.

Chunks of aluminum siding and styrofoam backing in the pool.

The ocean view deck.

Live electrical wires right outside our condo door.

The siding work was left overnight one night, right at a blind corner, with all the walkway lighting disconnected.

A chargeback or stopping payment on the check would be an option if they didn’t pay for the trip far in advance. It’s also possible that the owner is unreachable, even by the realtor, but in that case the realtor should let the brothers know that and offer them something for their trouble.

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  1. GuJiaXian says:

    As the late George Carlin pointed out, a near miss is a hit. “Oh, look, they nearly missed.”

  2. raydeebug says:

    That’s not a safe environment for tenants–no one should be living in the building if it is under going that level of remodeling. Are there other people trying to live there in the same conditions?

    I probably would have tried the route of getting a refund and moving to another hotel the day the construction began to have an impact on the vacation.

  3. Construction-vacation says:

    Op here, not sure if this is against the rules, but ashore realty in brigantine, nj. This completely stinks. About to leave again now since the hammering is loud right now

  4. AtlantaCPA says:

    I would hope those wires are not really live. I wonder why the OP says they are, did they touch them?
    That said, it’s a sucky situation and deserves some amount of refund. If the owner is unwilling, I’d do small claims and see how it goes. If the owner offers even a partial refund I’d take it.

    • Construction-vacation says:

      Op here – the wires are live, one of the workers almost took himself out a couple of days ago

      • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

        If they’re still like that call the permits department and report a hazardous condition. That’s a code violation and, while it won’t help you much, will cause issues for the property owners.

        • AtlantaCPA says:

          Seriously, that’s why I was asking. It’s not just unusual to leave them live, it’s against the law in all places I know of.

          I think that might be the kicker in this case, taking the OP’s case from nuisance to safety hazard and making a win in small claims almost guaranteed?

    • TheWraithL98 says:

      The wires are live, one of the guys working almost took himself out

  5. PunditGuy says:

    You’re almost definitely due some compensation for being in an unfinished facility, but that doesn’t take care of the issue immediately. My best advice for dealing with the issue immediately is to get out of the condo and go enjoy that beach that you wanted to be near.

    • Golfer Bob says:

      Agreed. They could even try some of the great local restaurants. Scully’s Barnacle is a great place. I recommnd the fish.

  6. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    Step one to get action, have Consumerist quick redacting the names!

  7. Derigiberble says:

    You have the right of quiet enjoyment to the property you are renting, so you should not have to put up with major construction of that magnitude. However you will only be able to get recompense for the cost of the rental, maybe court costs, and nothing more (such as punitive stuff like having your vacation not be as fun as it should have been, etc).

    Step 1: Ask politely yet firmly for a refund as the property was not in the condition you were led to believe it would be, and there’s no justifiable reason why they didn’t warn you of planned major construction scheduled for the time of your stay. Include some photos of the more egregious problems. Expect at most to get an offer of a partial refund and decide if you are willing to take it to call an end to the whole thing.

    Step 2: Demand a full refund. Have a lawyer draft and send a letter pointing out all the reasons why they would be in trouble in small claims court if they didn’t give you one. Expect to pay a couple hundred bucks for this, which you will NOT be able to demand from the real estate company.

    Step 3: Small claims court. Barring anything being left out by the submitter I can’t really see how they would lose.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Except that they might be far away from the site of the condo and would incur substantial costs in traveling to appear in court (something that vacation rental folks count on).

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You can sue for endangering their lives. With all the construction around, live wires, and a general unsafe area. The fact they could even be in the area probably violates OSHA regulations. The construction company could be in hot water.

  8. hoi-polloi says:

    The photos really drove the point home. The deck, which would be a major selling point, is unusable. If construction material is ending up in the pool, that makes it virtually unusable while the crew is there. (While I’d prefer to swim in the ocean, I’m sure the pool bumps up the rental cost.) I’m pretty flexible, but I can’t imagine encountering a really disruptive construction crew without prior warning.

    In addition to reaching out to the realtor and the owner, I’d talk to the construction crew. It’s not their fault that they’re scheduled during your vacation, and you may be able to get them to keep materials more contained, to do a better job cleaning up at the end of the day, etc. While it’s not guaranteed to get results, a little good will may go a long way.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Yes, and I’d urge the OP to go grab screen caps of the current listing for that condo, especially any photos portraying it as being, you know, intact and uncluttered. Comparing what was portrayed with what they actually got would go a long way in a small claims case, and just mentioning the difference to the owner and/or the realtor might give them pause.

  9. StarKillerX says:

    This is a tough one since the person they rented to unit from could very well have no connection to the actual construction.

    it complicates things that they stayed for their entire vacation as well, so what exactly are their losses? Even in the US I don’t think you could win a suit over being awoken at 8am and since they never complained about the interior of the unit and almost hitting your car with something isn’t actionable either.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      You don’t think complaints regarding the exterior are relevant? I’d wager amenities like the ocean-view deck, pool, and designated parking were all listed, and potentially contributed to their selection of this property.

      Also, the OP contacted the realtor on the first weekday of the vacation. It sounds like they haven’t had any success moving towards a solution, despite repeated efforts.

    • MMD says:

      Did you even look at the photos of the pool and the deck?

  10. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    …leaving tools and construction materials around off hours…

    This sounds more like an opportunity than an issue.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Dumping everything in that pool might quickly stop the 8am wake-ups.

    • George4478 says:

      “Did you bring back any souvenirs?”

      “Two power drills, a hammer, and three cordless screwdrivers.”

      • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

        Oh and I almost forgot about the larceny charge. That’s the souvenir that keeps on giving. Best vacation evah o/

      • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

        For the win!

  11. chipmonger says:

    Living near where the OP is vacationing, why not try telling the Realtor that you’re contacting Licenses and Inspections at City Hall – The administrative offices are located at 1417 W. Brigantine Avenue. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Telephone: (609) 266-7600. That’ll either 1) get them off their butts, or 2) shut things down.

  12. daemonaquila says:

    I hate blame-the-OP-ism, but, you know…

    I get the annoyance at having stuff (if it’s sizeable) dumped on your car, and at having gunk thrown in the pool (though it doesn’t look like too big a deal as long as the pumps are on and will clear it out). However, construction happens. At any given time, any hotel, condo, B&B, cabin, etc. you’re renting may require some work. If you draw the short straw, it’s a bummer – but it’s also life.

    However, the OP has lost a ton of cred with me by whining about the exposed wiring, etc. Here’s an idea, OP – don’t intentionally reach up and grab that wiring for the outside lighting, and you should be just fine. It’s not something you’ll just walk into. Scaffolding? If you don’t consider it a recreational device, don’t walk on it.

    Reasonably, they should probably get some money back if they couldn’t use the pool, the deck was trashed, etc. But there’s a lot of overreaction going on here. Small claims court should fix the issue if the realtor isn’t reaching the owners and doesn’t in a reasonable time frame.

    • RandomHookup says:

      How about the people making money on the rental don’t rent it out when it isn’t really useful? If you want to operate a business, then you have to be willing to absorb some overhead costs when you need to fix stuff.

    • TheWraithL98 says:

      Half of the problem is not the construction, but the realtor’s terrible reaction. We could have probably worked something out days ago, but her non response for half of the time we are down here has escalated what bs we are willing to deal with. The construction was not disclosed to us, but clearly it was to the tenants of the building, since the complex is mostly empty a couple of days before July 4th.

      • econobiker says:

        “The construction was not disclosed to us, but clearly it was to the tenants of the building, since the complex is mostly empty a couple of days before July 4th.”

        Pretty sad scheduling then to have this getting done in July versus say April. Other owners may be losing the week before July 4 rents if they knew and did not schedule tenants.

    • elangomatt says:

      Come on, you are the only commenter in this one outright blaming the OP for whining. This construction isn’t emergency repair that was unplanned, this sounds like a renovation that was probably planned for a long time. This isn’t a matter of drawing a short straw when you have to worry about you car getting damaged by falling debris, having sharp shards of aluminum hanging off of corners, scaffolding blocking stair cases, and live electrical wires hanging out of walls. The realtor should never have rented the units knowing that construction would be going on. If this is your own house then fine, live there and be careful about the construction. However it sounds like the OP was never told that there would be construction and I don’t think they should have to deal with the hazardous conditions in a place they are paying short term rent to occupy.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        I agree. While I have some sympathy for the crew doing the work, this isn’t a case of one or two things being wrong. How hard is it to cap exposed wires, to at least bend back and secure the old exposed siding (or have the sense to not begin the tear-off late in the day), and to make sure the site is as clear as possible so you don’t ruin someone’s vacation? It seems like they’ve made no real effort to accommodate these guys.

    • frodolives35 says:

      Great post I would point out how wrong you are but it must be obvious to most everyone. But don’t be offended by me pointing out your stupidity I know its a bummer but its just life.

  13. mydailydrunk says:

    that’s one hot mess of a site, especially that exposed siding.

    totally unacceptable, hazardous conditions, document everything and you should feel justified in demanding a full refund from these weasely owners trying to pull a fast one.

  14. dwtomek says:

    I honestly hope you have a vacation ruined by easily avoidable occurrences on the operator’s part. Seriously.

    This work was absolutely scheduled ahead of time. Coincidentally the renting agreements were also scheduled ahead of time. Maybe the renting company could have cross referenced with that mystical log to see if there were any rentals scheduled for the same time? Now why would they reschedule when there is more money to be made at someone elses expense? This is ‘merica for pete’s sake!

    • dwtomek says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to daemonaquila’s…umm post I guess.

    • TheWraithL98 says:

      You hit the nail on the head – this is exactly what I’m pissed about. There’s no reason this had to happen.

  15. jumbojeepman says:

    Reminds me of my freshman year at NC State. They decided to do the roof that year, and every morning at 7 am the workers started with all kinds of heavy equipment (jackhammers, tar mixers, etc.) Every day they stopped at noon and left. We didn’t get a partial refund of our room and board, and it defeated my perfect class schedule of all afternoon classes so I could sleep in that semester.

  16. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Move out ASAP, you should done it earlier. Its hard to recoup anything if you stay there. All you can get if you stay is possibly a discount for “pain and suffering” (or whatever the correct legal term is). If you move out you can sue to, at minimum, get money back for those unused days and possibly other expenses incurred. IANAL but I watch the beautiful Judge Marilyn Milian on TV.

  17. Golfer Bob says:

    I guess the next door neighbor is coming over to ask their opinions on her breast implants, too?

  18. Professor59 says:

    I went through this about every other year until I stopped renting condos and paid maybe 25% more for a hotel. I’d occasionally find the pool closed or the parking blocked off or the laundry shut off, and of course, the early morning noise of construction. One year, our building’s entire water supply was shut off for 24 hours, except we didn’t know it would be 24 hours because no one would respond to our calls. I changed Real Estate people every time, but they were all like that, so I gave up and rented hotel rooms. At least there’s a chain of accountability for redress, though I never again needed it.

  19. Difdi says:

    I see the problem. The OP should have known better than to give business to Redacted Realty. Those guys suck!

  20. arliemoore says:

    I have been through this, not just once, but twice in 15 yrs. of renting at the NJ shore. In my case, it was a particular realtor who was in the business of claiming damages after we left the house in order to get more money out of us. When we have rented with other realtors, it was never ever a problem.

    What I know is this, and I have to warn you, I don’t have much of an answer for you…You have a few ways of fighting back which may seem lame. 1. Small claims court. 2. Leaving a little byte trail all over the internet, and I’ve seen it done, where renters even make a webpage showing the hovel they were made to stay in and posting it to review sites like yahoo, and Yelp.

    But the other thing is that you had presumably made an inspection of the property before you rented it, right? (yes, we know you didn’t, but bear with me) You had an expectation that, barring acts of God, you were to rent the property you saw ahead of time. The product delivered to you was not the same property that you paid for. Therefore it’s pretty much open and shut. I hope you can make the time to fight back, I’m so sick of these morons making money off the back of the customer.

    Do you have the ability to cancel checks or chargeback at this point? It might be worth it. They still have your deposit, so they can mess with you that way too. I’d contact a lawyer down there to see if it’s worth your time and money.

  21. TheWraithL98 says:

    OP again, one last update on this. We got absolutely nowhere with the realtor, but I did put up a website about my experience (tidesashore.com) and I’ve linked to it on the realtor’s twitter and facebook pages. I see someone else from here did too. Thanks for that.

    Even though we had the condo until today, my brother and I had enough of the situation yesterday and left. My parents, who were in town at another rental (the whole Brigantine-in-June thing has been an annual family event for over 20 years), returned the keys for us and got into an argument with the realtor in person.

    The realtor swears she is going to work on getting our money back, but actions speak louder than words. She still has yet to pick up a phone and call me directly. The only communication I’ve had with her at all since Monday has been through other people.