June 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm #31139
This is the 2nd time this month that my water has stopped working. It wasn’t working last night when I got up for work, so I called the landlord. He assured me it would get fixed right away and it usually does. There’s some problem with the pump and sometimes he has to beat on it with a hammer to get it working again. He said like 5 years ago he was going to replace the pump but never did. So today when I got home from work 12 hours later, I expected it to be fixed. It still wasn’t, so I called him again. This time, he didn’t even answer. Straight to voicemail. Two hours later, still no call back.
That’s far from the only problem with this apartment. Part of the deal when I leased here was that it comes with free satellite, but the TV gets shut off every month due to non-payment. He only pays it when I call him to tell him it’s been shut off. The place is poorly maintained and the bathroom has no ventilation in addition to carpeted floors, so it grows mold and there’s nothing I can do about it.
These problems and more are all of the reasons we were looking to move into a house last spring. I’ve begun the process to look for a good place to live but it’s going to take time.
So what can I do if he doesn’t do anything about the water today and still won’t answer my phone calls? I have no running water, no working toilet, no shower, and I can’t even wash the dishes. That’s ridiculous and unacceptable.June 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm #31142
Would you consider talking to an attorney? Sounds like your landlord may be in breach of several legal obligations. As a general rule, landlords don’t actually have to make repairs unless they have contracted to do so (it’s a common misconception that they are legally obligated to repair everything), But, he may be in breach of the lease you signed or an oral (or hopefully written) agreement to pay for your satellite, and he may be in breach of his general duty to provide a habitable domicile to you by not taking care of basic necessities like the water. These are just general legal concepts- you would need to consult an attorney with your lease and other specific details in order to fully understand your legal rights. An attorney will be able to tailor his advice to you and the laws of your jurisdiction, and your options will probably range from just talking to your landlord, to paying for the water repairs yourself and then deducting that amount from your rent, to simply moving out and refusing any more rent despite the lease. Good luck!June 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm #31181
Depending on what state you live in, there could definitely be legal actions you could take against him. I know in Oklahoma the Landlord and Tenant Act definitely states that they must keep water supplied at all times. I would talk to an attorney like HmC said. You might not even have to actually take action. I know that the threat of action got the terrible management at my last complex to do what they were required to.June 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm #31186
I think you can get it fixed yourself and then deduct it from your rent. The lawyers should chime in, but I’m pretty sure that your landlord has to fix things in a “reasonable” amount of time, but, having water is pretty damn important, so he should be fixing that shit ASAP.June 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm #31192
I’m going to chime in on the chorus of “talk to a lawyer”. I know that in many places there is a time limit on how long water can be out before a landlord cannot charge you rent. They’re legally required to provide it for you, same way that after a certain date (I think October 15th in some places) they are legally required to provide you with the ability to turn your heat on. It sounds as though he never fixed it the first time. Or you can go stay in a hotel for a few days and then send him the bill…June 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm #31196
I had a lot of issues with my previous landlord, as some of you may remember. Definitely go talk to a lawyer. There are very clear steps (at least in my state) that both the tenant and landlord are required to follow when dealing with a dispute. For me there was a series of letters, with responses in a certian time including certain information sent by certified mail, etc etc, in order for me to have any chance of beating them in court- if it every got there. Legal mumbo-jumbo is too complex to try to decipher with out a law degree.
Also, put everything in writing. If you submitt a maintenence request, have the landlord sign off on that they’ve received it. Never hurts to have a paper trail.June 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm #31197
That’s not a bad idea. I’m getting pretty fed up with this shit. It’s 95 degrees and I can’t even take a shower after work. The only reason I have water to cook with, drink, and brush my teeth is because I buy it in jugs to avoid drinking the hard well water.
The only disadvantage I see to taking legal action is that I am not currently on a lease. I’ve lived here for 7 years and only had a lease the first year. For the last six years, I’ve been month to month.
Also, does a lawyer still charge a shitload of money up front to advise or take a case like this? I know that was the case when I had to hire an attorney for my bankruptcy. I had to pay like $1200 up front before she would do anything. I need to keep my savings account right now towards my house and dog.June 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm #31198
Where is AP when I need legal advise?!!!June 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm #31199
I’ve been involved in a lot of legal issues regarding tenants and landlords with my parents, basically my whole life, and they have a lawsuit going on right now with their current landlord. What I do know (at least in my home state) is that even if the original lease you signed was for the first year, and you’re now on a month to month basis, there are still basic laws landlords have to follow. I can’t remember the name of it right now, but there are lawyers who will work on a case with you and they won’t charge anything unless you win–it can take a lot longer to resolve, and I’m not sure if this applies to landlord/tenant issues, but I know of people who have used something like that before.
Tenants have a lot more rights than most landlords even anticipate, so I would really look into that. In my home state, it is legally required for the homeowner to pay the water bill (it’s not the case in every state) and for things like water to be fixed within 24 hours or you can hire your own maintenance person and send the landlord the bill. I know that there are certain rights that a tenant has for things in the house to be fixed within a certain timeframe, but it all depends on the state and such. But I suggest getting a lawyer to help you look over the tenant rights in your state.June 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm #31201
@Anna: Do you have to have a house or would an apartment suit you better? Or a duplex, townhouse, or rent house. I’m still on the fence for buying a home, unless you truly know you are going to plant your roots in Ohio.June 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm #31202
Anna- Many attorneys will at least listen to your situation and point you in the general direction of what you should do without charging you some automatic retainer fee for the conversation, that’s pretty basic legal ethics. I believe Kristina is talking about attorneys that are willing to take cases on a contingency fee basis- they get a pretty big chunk if you win, but nothing if you lose and there’s no retainer fee. The client often still must pay court and other fees though, so it’s still not usually free. Plus, they have to feel you have a very solid case in order to take it on a contingency basis, because it’s a huge risk for them since they only get paid if they win. It also has to be a high enough dollar amount kind of case to make the risk worth their while.
If I were you, I’d try contacting an attorney (ideally one you know or has some sort of connection to you) and having them refer you to someone that does landlord/tenant work. From there you can ask about the possibility of a contingency fee, and at the very least you can get a consult that will give you a basic idea of your rights in your state.
As people mentioned, just threatening legal action against your landlord may be enough. But, you may not want to alienate them by doing that? That’s your call to make.
There may also be alternative approaches, like if there’s a law school in your area, sometimes they have clinics where law students work with low income clients for little to no fees. Can you look around for something like that?June 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm #31204
POS landlords= the worst!
My understanding for where I live is that water is an “essential”, so regardless of what your lease agreement says about who is responsible for repairs around the apartment, the landlord is legally responsible for ensuring that you have water, and fixing it in a reasonable time if not. I wouldn’t call >12 hours reasonable, especially if he’s provided no updates or notification about when you can expect it to be fixed (or offered you an alternative accommodation if it’s going to take a long time).
If you’ve been renting month-to-month, the conditions of your original lease should still apply (this is the law in Ontario, it may be different where you are)- the only thing is that can change is the rent.
Check out your state’s Landlord and Tenant Act, or equivalent to see what the rules in your state are…you may be surprised at how well-protected you are as a tenant.
Before going to a lawyer, check and see if your state has some kind of Housing Tribunal. This is usually where landlord/tenant disputes end up, and they might offer preliminary advice or next steps for you to take.
Failing that, if there is a law school near you, most law schools have legal aid programs where upper-year students offer free advice/assistance.June 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm #31206
You should be able to get a free consultation with a lawyer at the minimum. You can also see if there is a renters rights association in your area. It’s worth a try to see if your company offers any kind of low or no cost legal help too- if I remember correctly you work for a bigger company.
I googled “Ohio Landlord Tenant Law” and easily found that landlords are required to provide sanitary water, but tenants are required to “operate plumbing fixtures correctly”. So after reading that I would extra say go see a lawyer before doing anything too crazy.
Also, remember- you won’t be here forever and are making steps to get out already!!June 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm #31207
@Will – I despise apartments and anything similar to them, so I’m sure I want a house of my own. My own four walls, my own backyard, and actually putting my money to work for me towards owning my place. I feel embarrassed that I’ve paid rent for 8 years because I’ve spent about $45k on rent that I’ll never get back. I might as well have dug a hole in the ground, put $45k in it and lit it on fire. So I’m absolutely positive I want to go for the house. My mortgage, including the property taxes and insurance, will be about the same as the rent I pay now but I will be living in a much nicer place that is actually mine. And if I do meet a guy down the road and want to start a family, a 3br2ba house is plenty big enough to do that. Why do you ask? Hoping I would maybe move to Arkansas?
I am going to look into the laws about tenants and landlords in Ohio. I’m not usually one to threaten anyone but if I don’t get my water back by tonight I will be pissed. Unfortunately, I don’t know any lawyers personally so it would be a lucky guess based on a google search or phone book. At 8 pm it will be 24 hours since I realized it stopped working. I’m not sure if there’s a law school around here…maybe Cleveland State? I don’t think Kent State Or Akron has one.June 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm #31209
@Anna: Haha, not at all. I’m just saying that it’s not so much the payment, it’s the overall responsibility of tending to a home. More space to heat and cool, that bill will increase compared to what it is in your apartment. Leaky roof, leaky faucet, leaky hot water heater, water damage; it’s all on you. You seem to be pretty tight on cash, which is why I say this isn’t the best decision to make at this time.
I was super excited when I was looking at houses about 3 months ago. There was a nice house for sale 100 yards from where I live now. After about two weeks I lost the excitement, because I sat and ran the numbers. The payment, taxes, and insurance weren’t the problem, it was the rainy day fund for when things go wrong. Why do you think so many DWers, that are single, live in apartments, townhouses, duplexes, or condos? The big problems are fixed by your landlord or your property owner’s association.
It’s really expensive to own a home, ALONE, and I just want you to truly sit down and think about the decision that you will be making here!
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
by Anna on · in