Issue with Landlord. Advice please. Don't know my rights... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have been renting a single family home in New England since last July.  When we moved in, the bath/shower in second bathroom had a horrible tile/caulking job around the faucet. The tub worked, the shower worked once or twice, but now the entire bath/shower is not working. The landlord is aware of the situation, has had plumbers give estimates, etc. Over the summer (mind you, we've already lived here a year) it was scheduled to be fixed, but the plumber walked off the job. So here we are, still without a functioning tub/shower.

 

 A little background...this landlord only fixes things through insurance claims.  The insurance companies, I think, know something is up.  There is very little forward momentum. He is out here with an agent or an adjuster at least once a month.  Our roof is now tarped. There is an outstanding claim bcs of paint bubbling on the garage doors. The gutters are clogged and broken (as they were when we moved in, and then worsened by a storm to the point of falling off the house)...we had planted some foundation shrubs, half of them have died.

 

The landlord's only income is the rent from this house (he has said) which makes me wonder what his ability is to fix ANYTHING. We are paying $1700 for a house with a tarp on the roof, and a tub/shower that doesn't work.

 

And this is small but irritates me. The last time he was here he had the nerve to comment that it would be nice if we pulled up some shrubs and do some weeding of the beds along the driveway. Mind you, when we moved in the beds were a disaster. We've done a lot of work in the yard, but every time I work in the yard I get COVERED in poison ivy. And for the record we've spent 100s on perennials and mulch. He also made a comment that "It would be really nice if you planted some grass seed. Well, the lawn was non existent when we moved in - too much shade, too many tree roots, no topsoil. We've already over seeded two times, but without much luck. DH have put a lot of time and money into these things bcs we don't want to live in a sh*thole, but to have the guy make suggestions that cost us time and money when he's not holding up his end of things is beyond irritating.

 

Didn't mean to go on and on. I guess I need to vent! Didn't realize I was so angry about it!

 

Anyway...Do I  have any rights in a situation like this?? My mom says I should withhold some of the rent, but I'm not sure that's legal.  DH is afraid we'll lose our security deposit if we tick the guy off. HELP!

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#2 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 10:58 AM
 
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Can't imagine doing all that for a rental. Mowing is all I would do for a yard.

I would just say you money is too tight to do additional yard work.

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#3 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 11:07 AM
 
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I don't know about the state you are in but usually you cannot withhold rent . That doesn't mean you don't have any rights. I'm sure it is not legal to rent a house without proper working bathing facilities, even if it just a shower. I would contact your cities/counties renter rights organization or code enforcement. They will tell you what you can legally do about the bath and roof. Good luck!

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#4 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 11:11 AM
 
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This guy is a grade - A jack-weed.....you are under NO obligation to fix ANYthing in the yard or otherwise - prettying up the place for yourselves - is something you do for yourself.  He is responsible for the lawn, be it in need of weeding, mowing, or be it non-existent....HIS problem, not yours.  You neednt lift a poison ivy covered finger. 

Tell him that if he doesnt have the shower/bath fixed in 30 days you will have it fixed and you will withold that amount of money from your rent.  Notify him in writing give him 30 days, notify  him like 3 times and dont take any excuses - you do not need to be privvy to how this man earns a living or how he affords repairs - not your problem!

As for the security deposit - ALL landlords  - even nice guys TRY SOMETHING to withhold that security deposit.  - I should clarify here - i live in NY and i have rented about 10 different places over the last 20 some odd years ...and the VAST majority of landlords will find some reason to keep your sec. deposit.  You have two strategies here, 1.) skip your last months rent and leave no forwarding address  - thats assuming you havent also paid the last month in advance

2.) keep meticulous records, including pictures, and when the times comes, if you dont get your deposit back - take him small claims court. 

Good luck!!


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#5 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pammysue View Post

I don't know about the state you are in but usually you cannot withhold rent . That doesn't mean you don't have any rights. I'm sure it is not legal to rent a house without proper working bathing facilities, even if it just a shower. I would contact your cities/counties renter rights organization or code enforcement. They will tell you what you can legally do about the bath and roof. Good luck!

Good to know. I tried a google search to try to find out, but didn't find anything helpful.  I didn't realize there was such a thing a a city/county renter rights organization or code enforcement.  Good place to start.  Thank you.

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#6 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chel View Post

Can't imagine doing all that for a rental. Mowing is all I would do for a yard.
I would just say you money is too tight to do additional yard work.

I know.  But DH and I care about where/how we live, so it matters to us. I think we've pretty much done as much as we are willing to, though.  We got it to a point where I'm not embarrassed by the way it looks, so that's good enough for me. The lawn drives me crazy, but not enough to do anything more about it.  Esp. considering the way I feel about the landlord right now.

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#7 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by motherhendoula View Post

This guy is a grade - A jack-weed.....you are under NO obligation to fix ANYthing in the yard or otherwise - prettying up the place for yourselves - is something you do for yourself.  He is responsible for the lawn, be it in need of weeding, mowing, or be it non-existent....HIS problem, not yours.  You neednt lift a poison ivy covered finger. 

Tell him that if he doesnt have the shower/bath fixed in 30 days you will have it fixed and you will withold that amount of money from your rent.  Notify him in writing give him 30 days, notify  him like 3 times and dont take any excuses - you do not need to be privvy to how this man earns a living or how he affords repairs - not your problem!

As for the security deposit - ALL landlords  - even nice guys TRY SOMETHING to withhold that security deposit.  - I should clarify here - i live in NY and i have rented about 10 different places over the last 20 some odd years ...and the VAST majority of landlords will find some reason to keep your sec. deposit.  You have two strategies here, 1.) skip your last months rent and leave no forwarding address  - thats assuming you havent also paid the last month in advance

2.) keep meticulous records, including pictures, and when the times comes, if you dont get your deposit back - take him small claims court. 

Good luck!!

Thank you! Thanks for acknowledging what a jerk he is and thanks for the "plan". I guess I needed a "plan". I'm feeling taken advantage of and now it's making me angry. DH talked to someone who basically said to do what you are suggesting. DH has been reluctant to do this, bcs he's worried about bad blood and the security deposit, but at this point the best we can do is document everything and keep our fingers crossed. Wish we had started documenting everything earlier. I had said a couple of months ago, "Listen, I don't want to cause you financial hardship. If you can't fix the bathroom we can reduce the rent". But you're right, his financial problems I guess aren't my problem. And anyway, he wasn't willing to do that. That's what got the estimates rolling. Again, he's waiting for an insurance claim to go through to fix the problem (ALL the problems), but we've been here a year, with nothing fixed.

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#8 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 12:28 PM
 
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Google renter's rights in your state.  Read your lease.  Document the state of the property (which is probably a violation of the lease, if you have one, and probably illegal to rent).  You do have rights, and what they are will depend on where you are and what you signed.

 

But my best advice?  Move out!

 

I would not place any dependence on the security deposit.  If it were me, I would inform the landlord he should consider the deposit as my final month's rent, because in the unlikely event that he cut a check for it, I would expect it to bounce.  

 

Stop living in this house as soon as you can.  Things aren't going to get better while you're there. 

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#9 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We signed a lease for a second year at the beginning of the summer - not well thought out, I now know. We hadn't made arrangements to live anywhere else and we were bumping up against the lease deadline.  At the very least we probably should have done month to month...but we didn't.  DH has started documenting things so we have a case when we DO break the lease, but the reality is that moving is a PAIN and disruptive. We are settled in. The kids are in school (don't know if we'd be able to find a house in the same school district) and then there is the issue of...if we are going to go through the hassle of moving, do we really want to stay in this town? So moving opens a whole can of worms for us. We may have to cross that bridge sooner than we had planned though.

 

Off to read our lease with a fine tooth comb. 

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#10 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Finally found some useful websites. I wasn't using the right words when I tried the search before. Thanks for the responses! You've set me in the right direction!!!

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#11 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 11:42 PM
 
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I think you should be able to pay your rent into an escrow type account.  That way you are not withholding the rent but its not being paid to the landlord at the moment either.  

 

While I totally agree that moving is a huge pain, it sounds like your current situation isn't going to improve and you need to decide if you want to stay in the current place or look for something better/different.


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#12 of 12 Old 09-06-2012, 11:06 AM
 
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I know a lot of folks have lost their homes in this disgusting housing bubble mess, but what isn't being reported on are the carpetbagging, slumlord landowners who have crept into our neighborhoods.  They don't care about the yard or your plumbing or pest control, they just want that $$$ every month and they put it right in their pockets.  Some of them don't even pay the mortgage!!  Happened right next door to me, my neighbors are like, "Foreclosed?  But we RENT this house!"

 

Sorry for my rant, but I've really had it up to here with this issue.  What gets my goat even more is that it's always historic structures/neighborhoods that have been effected by this the most.


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