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In lieu of another place to post this, what recourse do we have?

My wife and I have been staying at this townhouse for almost 2 years (just a month and half shy).

We really like the apartment. Price is ok. Not the best, but we get a garage (which we just use for storage at this point), and washer and drier is in-unit, and it's about 25-40% more space than the other apartments we looked at.

We've always paid our rent on time. Never had any complaints made against us. We've been good tenants, I would say.

However, we've had a major problem with our garage: it leaks, above the laundry room door. Oh, and the leaking water invited its friend black mold along for the party. We've called it in several times, and it's been determined to have something to do with the bathroom in the apartment above us. Luckily it's the fresh water, not waste water. But, their attempts to fix the problem have failed. It's been going on for a few months at this point, but when I came home from out of town, there was a large(r than normal) puddle in my garage. We went to take photos tonight to include with a letter to the landlord, only to find it dripping heavier than it had earlier that day.

Our patience has waned at this point, and we want the fucking problem resolved immediately. However, our idea of resolved and immediately, and theirs seems to not always coincide. Tonight, we ended up calling the emergency number...but over an hour later, our ceiling leaks, and no one has come by. Granted, it was at 10:45 at night that we called. We're heading to bed, with the hopes that someone will be sent over first thing tomorrow.

So I've got to ask, what recourse do we have? We don't want to necessarily move out, as we actually like this place other than that glaring problem. We don't want to necessarily piss them off...but I'm not exactly sure I can hire a plumber and give them his receipt for labor in lieu of the remainder of my monthly rent payment (say, instead of $500/month, $100 + a bill for $400 from B. Uttcrack Plumbing).
Old 03-24-2009, 09:57 PM NecessaryEvil is offline  
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If a landlord wont fix a problem, your next step is to call the housing inspector, or the "code enforcement officer." He is, in some areas, actually a part of the police. He can look at the problem and if it's severe enough (which it sounds like it is), he will send a notice to the landlord.

Unfortunately, this can take a week to happen (though, maybe less). It's definitely worth a shot.

If he ignores the inspector, write a letter to the landlord telling him that you'll hire someone to do it and you'll deduct the cost from next month's rent (save receipts). The only problem I see with this is that the repairman might need access to the unit above to fix the problem. This is fairly serious, so you may want to talk to a lawyer before doing this.

Best of luck.

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Old 03-24-2009, 10:16 PM lgbr is offline  
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im a dumbass who posts my bosses credit card number onto the internet for people to abuse
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Fix it, and then withhold rent for the value of the repair.
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions presented in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else.
Old 03-26-2009, 01:46 PM Lurker is offline  
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Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
Fix it, and then withhold rent for the value of the repair.

(I'm not a lawyer...)

This really is the nuclear option. It will certainly piss the landlord off and it's extremely risky. If you're going to do it, you've got to make sure you're on very solid ground because the landlord is probably going to sue you for the withheld rent. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll win, but you'll need to be prepared. If your lease is month-to-month or is expiring soon, you might not be offered renewal.

State laws differ on withholding rent, as well. You'll need to check them very carefully. You'll also need to be able to prove that the landlord was aware of the problem and that his fixes (if any) were inadequate, so that you can justify your withholding when the landlord litigates.

If you really want to do this, you should be aware that you're risking losing that place. And you should of course talk to a lawyer.
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:46 PM LegalMaven is offline  
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Our lease has long since expired. It was a 1 year lease, than lapsed in May of I imagine we're on month-to-month at this point.

Incidentally, we left a letter in addition to the call with pictures. It wasn't the nicest of letters, but we didn't include pictures of dickbutt or anything. Just telling him that we're tired of it damaging HIS apartment. They had someone there the next morning at 8:30 or so. He cut out part of the ceiling. It's still dripping, but I know they're at least trying to get it fixed.

Matters are complicated further by the neighbors, which happen to be Muslim. They don't want to let the maintenance guy in most of the time. The wife has to get covered up, etc. The maintenance guy said it's easier to just wait until they're gone and go up there.

He said that they've checked the sink, toilet, and shower, and it doesn't seem to leak when they're on. There was water all over their floor after the shower, but it didn't leak while he ran the shower for 10 minutes, leading him to wonder if they're showering with the curtain open or something. He's caulked around the toilet (which is where he thinks the leaking is occurring, from the water that's on the floor) and baseboard.

It still wet today, but given the gaping hole in our ceiling, odds are that the water that's still dripping would be from the water already in the ceiling and walls, and not necessarily new water, especially given the reduction in the amount of water dripping.

We're watching it and seeing what happens, but at least we seem to have made some headway.
Old 03-26-2009, 08:35 PM NecessaryEvil is offline  
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How did you go brosef? Did it stop leaking?
Old 04-05-2009, 08:56 PM bigandy839 is offline  
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