Ask an Expert

Is a $100 weekly rent credit fair while my landlord renovates the basement?

  • $400 a month for laundry is generous but you may be entitled to a larger abatement
  • Put the terms in writing with a provision increasing the compensation if work runs longer
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By Emily Myers  |
August 7, 2023 - 10:00AM
Row of Beautiful Old Brick Homes in Astoria Queens New York stock photo

With the washer/dryer off limits during the townhouse's renovation, you should be reasonably compensated for the disruption.


I rent a townhouse and the landlord wants to finish the basement, which will take four to six months. I've been asked to remove boxes and offered a rent credit of $100 a week for six weeks when the washer/dryer will be unusable. Should I ask for more?

Your landlord needs to be reasonable but if they need to renovate and make repairs, they have the right to do so, our experts say. 

However, “the landlord is seeking to modify the terms of the lease and the tenant should be reasonably compensated for the loss of the services and disruption to the tenancy,” says attorney Michael Landsman, co‑managing partner at Holm & O'Hara. 

Calculating reasonable compensation

Landsman recommends calculating the actual out-of-pocket costs associated with using alternate laundry services and asking for this to be deducted from the rent.

Deanna Kory, a leading broker at Corcoran, says a rent credit of $400 a month for laundry is a “generous” offer. Even so, if the basement is included in the lease as part of the space the tenants have access to, you may be entitled to a larger abatement.

Once you agree to an appropriate abatement of rent, Jennifer Rozen, managing attorney at Rozen Law Group, says the agreement should be put in writing and signed by both parties. “The tenants should also consider adding provisions to the agreement that limit the times that work can be performed and that require the landlord or their agents to clean up after the construction is completed,” she says. 

Timelines for renovations often run longer than expected, so depending on the nature of the renovation and whether the scope of the work is expected to change, you will want to have the parameters clearly set out. 

Landsman’s suggestion is to “consider including a provision to increase the compensation if the project takes longer than expected.”

The importance of clear communication

It's important to raise concerns about dust or noise ahead of the construction work. If rewiring or new plumbing is needed, ask your landlord whether this will interfere with utility service in the townhouse living space. These are questions your landlord can put to the contractor.

While a landlord has the duty to maintain and the right to improve their properties, Rozen says you have a right to quiet enjoyment. “Any work performed by the landlord, whether necessary or not, which disturbs that or breaches the warranty of habitability would entitle the tenants to an abatement of rent,” she says.  The warranty of habitability is the set of rules ensuring your rental is safe and livable at all times.

Finishing a basement can cost $60,000 to $100,000. Hopefully the payoff is a more functional space when the work is complete.


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Emily Myers

Senior Writer/Podcast Producer

Emily Myers is a senior writer, podcast host, and producer at Brick Underground. She writes about issues ranging from market analysis and tenants' rights to the intricacies of buying and selling condos and co-ops. As host of the Brick Underground podcast, she has earned four silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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