tenant rights regarding repairs

4 Replies

In August I moved into a rental, and this is my first experience renting anything besides an apartment. The building I moved into used to be a garage, and has been converted into a living quarters (studio style). When we first came to look at the property, everything seemed fine, looked like a good-sized place for us, and so we applied. We did not meet the minimum monthly income requirements, but we had enough money to pay for a year in advance, which was agreed to.

Shortly after moving in, we have seen multiple things wrong with this place. The major problem that we have is that our landlord also operates an appliance business in their back yard (which is super noisy and constantly smelling of chemicals and spray paint), and when we've asked for repairs, they simply send in their appliance guys who half-*** the repair job, and a month later it's broken again anyway. Not to mention, they told us they were looking for a retail location to move their appliance business, and we've recently realized that was a lie. 

So my question is, if we have things that need to be repaired, do we have the right to request they hire a professional, or do we just have to deal with who they send in? I don't like having these men in and our of our house every week just to repair stuff that's going to be broken again later on because they don't know what they're doing.

Examples of things that need to be fixed: Front door is falling off the hinges (it's already been fixed once after over a month of us asking for it to be fixed), the swamp cooler smells like mold and we requested the filter be changed, refrigerator door has about a quarter inch gap in the door and is leaking cold air, we can't use the fan in the enclosed porch because it's off balance and we've already had the glass light cover fall off and shatter on the floor right in front of me, and kitchen sink disposal rattles the entire counter when it's turned on. Many of these requests are over a month old and they haven't mentioned anything about them being fixed any time soon. 

@Sharon Gilman  First welcome to BP. Secondly this may not be the most sympathetic place for your post. That said I believe in always being fair, but we rarely have maintenance issues anymore as we gut our houses now. I am not a lawyer so no legal advice and you may want to talk to one. I would write a letter explaining the issues that need fixed and give him a deadline to fix requested items. He may not care since he has your money. I think you could call your building department of neighborhood code office. A swamp cooler being moldy can also be a health issues. That said give him a chance to fix it but if he wont know your options. Best of luck. 

It is extra eye rolling that the LL owns a used appliance business, but won't put in a properly working refrigerator.

(Not a lawyer, no legal advice).  I also agree you should speak to the local housing office and determine what your rights are...ie what constitutes habitability in your area.  Don't make a complaint at that time, but use the info as leverage when writing a letter to your LL.  The two items that might come into play with habitability are the moldy swamp cooler and the door that isn't secure.

For example, in my first apartment after college, I lived in a big complex.  I kept having the heating go out in my unit.  It was happening about once a week.  The kept sending their on-property maintenance guys to fix it.  And it would work...but then break again after about one week.  After the third time, I told the complex they needed to hire a real A/C and Heating company to fix the problem, because whatever their guys were doing wasn't working.  Their response was, "Oh, we don't need to do that.  Heating systems are very simple and straightforward, our guys can fix them."

Ummm....but apparently they can't.  Which I pointed out again.  But I had done my research ahead of time.  I was polite, but firm.  I told them they had one more chance to fix the unit correctly and, if their maintenance still didn't fix the problem.  They needed to hire a licensed A/C and Heating company and, if they didn't, I would report them to XYZ Housing Agency for not properly providing heat to my apartment.  I don't know what their maintenance guy did this final time that wasn't done the first three times, but it finally worked after that.

Unfortunately, the appliance business in the backyard is probably not something that would be considered as it was existing when you rented the place. 

Most code enforcement offices will take anonymous tips.  Chances are approximately zero that the appliance repair is a permitted use.  The danger there is that your apartment is likely illegal as well.

Slumlords give us all a bad name.

thank you all for your input. I've been a member here for a while since I've been researching real estate investing. I appreciate your advice from an investors point of view. And I agree with Richard that slumlords definitely give investors a bad name, and that's exactly hat we walked into. For now I'm chalking it up to a learning experience. 

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