Constant Landlord Issues

43 Replies

Hi!  

I'm posting for a friend who lives in LA.  Her, along with 3 other friends is currently renting a home.  Apparently, the landlord (also the owner of the house), during the negotiation process asked them to write 12 checks for the rent to cover the entire year, with each one post dated for the top of each month.  They were desperate to find a house to rent and found this and got a good deal but the landlord was not going to let them rent if they don't do what he asked.  So they complied.

A month into moving in, washer and dryer broke and the landlord won't do anything about it.  He said it's the tenant's responsibility.  Now the fridge just broke and landlord again said it's their responsibility and even suggested they should buy a new one cuz it's only about $500.00   My friend and her roommates got someone to go their an fix the fridge, only to find out that the fridge is beyond repair so they ended up having to buy a new fridge which cost them $1500.00

What kind of rights do they have?  And are they able to take any action against the land lord?  Are landlords really allowed to ask for 12 checks in advance?  And are tenants really responsible for fixing appliances that the house came with?

Does their lease discuss this? If the lease says that they are not responsible for those appliances (meaning they left ****** stuff instead of leaving nothing) then what they need to do is buy their own stuff, and take it when they leave. And put the old broken crap back. 

If the lease says that the landlord provides these things: then the landlord is responsible to fix/replace them. 

Originally posted by @Leah Stuever:

Does their lease discuss this? If the lease says that they are not responsible for those appliances (meaning they left ****** stuff instead of leaving nothing) then what they need to do is buy their own stuff, and take it when they leave. And put the old broken crap back. 

If the lease says that the landlord provides these things: then the landlord is responsible to fix/replace them. 

Appliances ARE included in the lease.  So that usually means landlords are responsible for repairing it right? 

Promotion
BAM Capital
Multifamily Syndicator
Targeted 10% Monthly Returns | Passive Income
Backed by institutional-grade apartments, strong sponsor track record, $700M AUM, over 5,000 units
Learn More

@Kat Hughes  If the leases states they are included in the rent, then the landlord should have paid to replace it. If they bought a new fridge (they should have been able to find one for less than $1500), then when they move, they get to take the fridge with them.  
There are a few other threads about appliances in rentals and whether they are standard or not.  Where I am, the appliances are included in the rental and therefore if they break, the landlord pays to fix or replace them-they exception being if the tenant did something that caused them to break.

Look at the lease. In some of my rentals I do state that the range and fridge maintenance and repair are the responsibility of the tenant. 

And as far as the fridge goes, tell them to keep the non-working fridge that belongs to the landlord. Once the lease is up they can take their new fridge and leave the landlord's non-working fridge. 

@Kat Hughes assuming the lease doesn't state the tenants are responsible for repairs, then the landlord would be responsible. If the landlord is responsible and refused to make such repairs, the tenants can generally withhold rent to pay for reasonable repairs. I would only do this in extreme cases after multiple documented attempts to work with the landlord. They also need to keep all receipts on the repairs. 

This is complicated because the tenants have given the landlord post dated checks. I don't think it is legal to force tenants to give you post dated checks. They could place a stop payment on all those checks and close the account. The problem is writing post dated checks without intent for them to be cashed or without funds to cover is check kiting. Of course they could argue they had intent at the time of writing, until the landlord violated their contract. I am not sure how it would play out in court. 

I would never give a landlord post dated checks. If that was a condition of renting, I would pass and find another property. It is not at all common practice in the leasing industry to require post dated checks.

Hi Kat, this sounds like a tricky/conditional situation but the first place you should turn towards is the lease. That lease is key. Additionally, I'm of a similar notion as what others have expressed above; as someone who just signed a lease a couple of months ago, I'd personally never give a landlord 12 post-dated checks. That spells trouble to me. But, this tactic may go against what your state law merits (big disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer/legal counsel and don't want to steer you wrong, but your biggest possibility of any type of recourse is that lease; I'd probably reach out to legal counsel to see if there's anything the landlord has done to violate this lease). I'm sorry you're dealing with that. There are other great resources out there as well if you end up back on the hunt for a rental. Happy to help when I can. @Kat Hughes

It all boils down to what they agreed upon when signing the lease.
If Landlord provided and if it doesn't say otherwise then Landlord is responsible for fixing these appliances.

You could do a stop payment on future checks if he is responsible for appliance repair and refuses to fix them.

@Kat Hughes Hey Kat, you may be surprised when your friends re-review the lease, as they might find that they signed a lease, which stipulates exactly just that. 

Now, if that isn't the case, then surely the landlord is 100% responsible for the repairs and as others have suggested they can get him by cancelling those postdated checks and placing the monthly in an escrow account until the landlord repairs the appliances and/or reimburses them for the fridge at least.  

My guess is that this landlord is dodgy from the start by getting them to write postdated checks for a whole year! 😮

Your friends need to learn to read what they sign . I’d be willing to bet they agreed to repair or replace any damaged appliances in that lease . Are these people adults or grown up children because this is pretty elementary stuff . Why did they buy a 1500$ fridge ? Geez ! A new fridge can be bought for around 500$ at Home Depot if you don’t care about digital displays ice makers and stainless steel . In fact I just bought a nice working used whirlpool large capacity fridge on Facebook marketplace for 75$

What everyone said, review the lease and see if there is a clause on appliance maintenance.

In my leases in Florida there is a specific section where there is a long list of items where there is a check next to each whether it's the landlord or tenant who is responsible for it's maintenance.  In most cases it's the landlords, but there are items where the landlord and tenant may discuss and designate who wants to do it such as smoke alarm batteries, light bulbs, pest control, refrigerator water dispenser filters etc etc etc...

Usually, if the landlord provided the appliance, the landlord is responsible for it's maintenance.  But this is not always the case.  I provide garbage disposer and icemaker in the kitchen, but my leases specifically say if those break I reserve the right to remove and not replace them.

Promotion
Azibo
Smart landlords use Azibo
One-stop-shop for landlords
Rent collection, banking, bill pay & access to competitive loans and insurance - free for landlords
Get started for free

When this ends up in court can you keep us posted, because there is a 100% chance this ends in court. Your friends probably let the delivery people take the old fridge (because where will they store a fridge) and now the landlord will demand they leave the old fridge there. Your friends are going to refuse (rightfully) and take the fridge with them, the landlord is going to take it from their security deposit. He will keep far more than he should (Claims $1k but bought a used fridge for $200 in cash with zero legal proof of anything) and then your friends are going to sue in small claims and win and I believe CA is 3x damages. The landlord will be an old guy on Judge Judy all shocked and pissed off and saying how this isn't right and it is all the tenant's fault. Your friends will win in the end and it won't be worth it. BTW, they should have called the city and complained when he refused to fix the fridge. The washer and drier is one thing that can be explained away to the town, the fridge is a necessity and they would have made him fix it. They also would have made him turn over all of the post dated checks because that probably isn't allowed. 

@Kat Hughes this honestly is a situation you need to seek more legal advice.  If they're that nervous and stuck footing the bill for what they think isn't their responsibility then paying for legal will provide the closure they need.

If they want to go cheap, go to a local college law school and see if they have a small claims pro-bono program.

Originally posted by @Vlad Stinga:

copy paste the part of the lease that talks about this specifically so we can better help

Thank you!  I asked my friend to send me a copy of the lease and I'll update once she does.  

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris:

@Kat Hughes  If the leases states they are included in the rent, then the landlord should have paid to replace it. If they bought a new fridge (they should have been able to find one for less than $1500), then when they move, they get to take the fridge with them.  
There are a few other threads about appliances in rentals and whether they are standard or not.  Where I am, the appliances are included in the rental and therefore if they break, the landlord pays to fix or replace them-they exception being if the tenant did something that caused them to break.

Thank you for the feedback!

Originally posted by @Jason D.:

@Kat Hughes I would have them cancel those checks and mail new checks every month. That way, if the landlord is not holding up his end of the bargain, you can put the rent in am escrow account until issues are resolved.

 Thank you.  I passed the info on and they're looking into it. 

Originally posted by @Karl B.:

Look at the lease. In some of my rentals I do state that the range and fridge maintenance and repair are the responsibility of the tenant. 

And as far as the fridge goes, tell them to keep the non-working fridge that belongs to the landlord. Once the lease is up they can take their new fridge and leave the landlord's non-working fridge. 

 Thanks.  I asked for a copy of the lease so I can review and get a second set of eyes on it. :)

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

@Kat Hughes assuming the lease doesn't state the tenants are responsible for repairs, then the landlord would be responsible. If the landlord is responsible and refused to make such repairs, the tenants can generally withhold rent to pay for reasonable repairs. I would only do this in extreme cases after multiple documented attempts to work with the landlord. They also need to keep all receipts on the repairs. 

This is complicated because the tenants have given the landlord post dated checks. I don't think it is legal to force tenants to give you post dated checks. They could place a stop payment on all those checks and close the account. The problem is writing post dated checks without intent for them to be cashed or without funds to cover is check kiting. Of course they could argue they had intent at the time of writing, until the landlord violated their contract. I am not sure how it would play out in court. 

I would never give a landlord post dated checks. If that was a condition of renting, I would pass and find another property. It is not at all common practice in the leasing industry to require post dated checks.

 This is really helpful.  I've never heard of check kiting before so this is good info to have.  We're looking into it. Thank you so much!

Originally posted by @Rob B.:

Hi Kat, this sounds like a tricky/conditional situation but the first place you should turn towards is the lease. That lease is key. Additionally, I'm of a similar notion as what others have expressed above; as someone who just signed a lease a couple of months ago, I'd personally never give a landlord 12 post-dated checks. That spells trouble to me. But, this tactic may go against what your state law merits (big disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer/legal counsel and don't want to steer you wrong, but your biggest possibility of any type of recourse is that lease; I'd probably reach out to legal counsel to see if there's anything the landlord has done to violate this lease). I'm sorry you're dealing with that. There are other great resources out there as well if you end up back on the hunt for a rental. Happy to help when I can. @Kat Hughes

Thank you for being generous with your resources and time!  If she needs to move out, I'll definitely keep you in mind for rental options.  thank you! 

Originally posted by @Ola Dantis:

@Kat Hughes Hey Kat, you may be surprised when your friends re-review the lease, as they might find that they signed a lease, which stipulates exactly just that. 

Now, if that isn't the case, then surely the landlord is 100% responsible for the repairs and as others have suggested they can get him by cancelling those postdated checks and placing the monthly in an escrow account until the landlord repairs the appliances and/or reimburses them for the fridge at least.  

My guess is that this landlord is dodgy from the start by getting them to write postdated checks for a whole year! 😮

Yeah, they actually found out later after having moved in to the place that the neighbors hate the owner.  They all have said that the owner has done a lot of skeptical and dodgy things so I'm not surprised that this is how he's acting now.  I wish they did more research on this place for sure before signing a lease.