Outlets sparking, landlord will not fix.

5 Replies

I have a friend in California who is having issues with the home she is renting. She has told the landlord and they will not fix the problems. 1. The heater doesn't work, they are having to use portable heaters to keep the house warm. They sent someone out last December to check the heater and they never fixed the issue. 2. The outlet by their bed started sparking when her phone was plugged in, it ended up burning the outlet. She's afraid to use the portable heaters now, because of the outlets. Which means the house isn't staying warm. Any suggestions on what she could do next?
Originally posted by @Shelby Shaw :
I have a friend in California who is having issues with the home she is renting. She has told the landlord and they will not fix the problems.

1. The heater doesn't work, they are having to use portable heaters to keep the house warm. They sent someone out last December to check the heater and they never fixed the issue.

2. The outlet by their bed started sparking when her phone was plugged in, it ended up burning the outlet. She's afraid to use the portable heaters now, because of the outlets. Which means the house isn't staying warm.

Any suggestions on what she could do next?

 I don't know CA landlord laws... but I can tag a few people who may.  

@Al Williamson @Elizabeth Colegrove @J. Martin

The landlord has to, by law, provide a heating source that would be able to heat the unit at x height to x temperature. Don't remember the exact numbers. I think maybe 70F. So, the landlord is at fault. 

The landlord is also stupid for forcing the tenant to heat with space heaters, as they are the source of many fires. 1 15-amp circuit (normal circuit breaker) can only handle 1 space heater. You can't plug anything else into the same circuit or you take the chance of overloading it. That's why the outlet was sparking and then got burnt out. I've had that frequently happen with tenants, that didn't want to turn the gas on (low income tenants) and would heat the house with space heaters. They always swore that they weren't using those heaters, but my electrician only needed to take one look at the burned out outlet and knew......

So, your friend needs to take action to get the heater functioning. The space heaters create problems, so, definitely don't use more than 1 or 2 in a house - has to be different rooms - and never when noone is home. 

What she can do is deposit the rent money into an escrow account or with the courts. That is proof that she's not doing this because she doesn't have rent. That way the landlord will have to fix the heater, before he can get the funds. 

if she has documentation that she's attempted to have landlord fix it and they won't, she can deduct rent or withhold rent.  This will likely not be received well by the landlord .... And you're going to likely have to prove you're side.

Or you can abounded the property and have it treated similar to end of a normal lease. Probably easier and a better solution.

Off top my head I don't think CA has temp regulations like other states. They actually leave it rather vauge and say unit must have a list of things to make it habitable. Heat and proper functioning electrical system are on that list. They also take inot account reasonable time to notify landlord of problems and time for landlord to repair, however it's not a firm date. Generally accepted time is about 30 calander days granted depending on repairs it can go up/down. 

Be warned though if it's something caused by Tennant then landlord is not responsible to fix. That includes maintenance like air filters unless otherwise stated in lease.

Here's breakdown of how/risks for each method. Also escrow account is not required by law in CA but still a good idea...

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/repairs.shtml

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