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Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Old Oct 17th 2011, 1:27 pm
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Default Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

I'll make this as brief as possible so as not to bore the pants off anyone

Since taking out the lease on this property in February 2010, we've had several maintenance issues that we have informed the landlord about with little luck. These range from things like the gutters being full of debris with trees growing out the back ones, to problems with the electrical circuit in the upstairs which means we can only have 2 air conditioners on at once, one hairdryer etc. Anyway, we have sent letters/e-mails etc, all of which I have kept. We got so pissed off with the hall floor which was slate and all breaking up, that we offered to rip it up and re-do it ourselves as he apparently couldn't afford to get someone in to do it. My OH had already cut his foot on the broken slate. So, off we trotted to Home Depot and got all the stuff and the floor is 95% finished.

Also, stupidly, we have consistently let him and his wife visit every 2-3 months, to move stuff around in the basement/attic. They have the full basement and attic filled with their stuff, which we were aware about, but the last time they were here on a Sunday, for over 3 hours and I ended up babysitting the kids

No we've done all this to try to be nice, decent human beings. We now have a problem in that we've offered on a house, offers been accepted, but we're held to a Dec 5th closing as the seller is terminally ill and in a very poorly way. We thought, naively, that we could possibly come to some arrangement with the landlord to see if there is any way out of the lease early. He has basically told us to shove it, even after all the stuff that we've done for them. So, here's my dilemma - if he's holding us to the lease, is there any way I can force him to deal with the issues in the house, the hole in the floor, the faulty electrics etc. I've been reading up on Connecticut law and I can apparently put in a complaint to the health department and they can serve him some kind of notice to complete the repairs. I realise completely that the lease is a legally binding contract, but we thought that after all the work we've done in here, decorating, new carpets, all at a cost to us, he would at least have negotiated slightly - how wrong was I
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 1:39 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

"I realise completely that the lease is a legally binding contract, but we thought that after all the work we've done in here, decorating, new carpets, all at a cost to us, he would at least have negotiated slightly - how wrong was I".

I hope things work out for you. A few years ago when the housing market was still doing well my friend's elderly mom rented out a house to a medical student. The student was to be in the house 5 years and was a great tennant. The owners kept up with major repairs on the home and they had a verbal agreement that the renter could do permanent improvements to the interior at his own expense (i.e., he put in hard wood floors, redid the kitchen, and painted). He did this over the course of two years (he was in a lease/agreement for 5). The elderly owner (again a friend's mom who I didn't know personally but thought she was probably a good person) saw all of the improvements and liked what she saw. She then somehow broke the lease and had the guy move out and then she sold the house!! I just thought that was wrong.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 1:43 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Presumably you signed a year's lease, so it'll be out at the end of January. I'd just suck it up if I were you. Send him registered mail now telling him you will be vacating the premises at the end of January to forestall any clause in the contract that would renew the lease.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 1:46 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
Presumably you signed a year's lease, so it'll be out at the end of January. I'd just suck it up if I were you. Send him registered mail now telling him you will be vacating the premises at the end of January to forestall any clause in the contract that would renew the lease.
+1 not worth the effort any other way...
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 1:52 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

I agree. As irritating as it is having bad landlords (we have had some stinkers) for the sake of a month or two, I really don't think it will be worth the hassle.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 1:59 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

You'll need to check the "landlord tenant" law not only in your state but also in your city. There are ordinances in some cities (especially in the NE) that give certain rights to tenants. There may also be a non-profit on tenants rights that could provide assistance.

The exact words of the lease are what are most important. Who is on the hook for repairs, for providing a house is "safe and meets code" and stuff like that. These are little things you can use against him and his failure could be found to be "in violation". His little visits, if not allowed for in the lease, could also come to an end should you desire.

Contact some local landlord tenant professionals, or, if as the other person noted your lease is up in January, consider just dealing for now and moving to somewhere better in a few months.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 2:19 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Concur with checking local law -- a legal consultation may be in order.

Also, as a general principal of contract law, there is the principle of "mitigation of damages" which imposes a duty on the landlord.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 2:39 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Thanks guys, yeah, the visits are definitely stopping. The lease is up at the end of February so, we need to pay another 4 months rent in order to get the security deposit back..... Our local health department has a complaints procedure, and apparently, alongside the state law in Connecticut, an electrical system which is not functioning properly and the broken window is a no no. I don't know what to do at this point, it's going to put us under a huge financial strain, having to pay for the purchase of the new house and also the rent and utilities for her until the end of February. It states in the lease that he must upkeep a maintenance agreement for the heating system, which has not been checked since we moved in, and when the system broke down twice last year in the middle of the winter, I was the one who had to phone about places to get it fixed so I've a lot to read up on. In the end, it might end up more hassle than it's worth........
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 2:51 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Originally Posted by Brat1 View Post
Thanks guys, yeah, the visits are definitely stopping. The lease is up at the end of February so, we need to pay another 4 months rent in order to get the security deposit back.....
So if your contract is till the end of February but closing on a house Dec 5th, you're only really out for January and February's rent -- 2 months.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 3:21 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
So if your contract is till the end of February but closing on a house Dec 5th, you're only really out for January and February's rent -- 2 months.
I' d see it as an opportunity to take your time moving your stuff out, and getting the new house ready to move into.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 3:34 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

In Virginia if the landlord has not repaired items in 30 days then you can deposit your rent with the local courts and the money will not be released until repairs are done. He has to have been formally notified which you seem to have done. You are not considered late on your rent. You could use this as some kind of bargaining tool to get out of the lease closer to your move date. Also in Virginia it is a legal requirement to have heat but not a/c so if the heat is not working that could also be something to help you break the lease in your area too. I'd call the local courts and ask them if they have a system to hold rent in escrow. Maybe holding his feet to the fire to do repairs will be enough to make him more agreeable.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 3:42 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

There may be a city office that you can file a grievance with. You will probably have to show that you've made requests and waited a reasonable amount of time for the work to be done - emails are perfect. This may result in an inspection of the property and fines if he doesn't bring the property up to spec. People are often afraid to pursue this avenue out of fear it will destroy the landlord/tenant rapport. You are in an ideal situation because you are moving and don't need to remain friendly. You may not actually reap the benefits of this action but it would potentially help the next renter down the line and at least teach him that slum lording is not on.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 3:43 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Originally Posted by Brat1 View Post
Thanks guys, yeah, the visits are definitely stopping. The lease is up at the end of February so, we need to pay another 4 months rent in order to get the security deposit back..... Our local health department has a complaints procedure, and apparently, alongside the state law in Connecticut, an electrical system which is not functioning properly and the broken window is a no no. I don't know what to do at this point, it's going to put us under a huge financial strain, having to pay for the purchase of the new house and also the rent and utilities for her until the end of February. It states in the lease that he must upkeep a maintenance agreement for the heating system, which has not been checked since we moved in, and when the system broke down twice last year in the middle of the winter, I was the one who had to phone about places to get it fixed so I've a lot to read up on. In the end, it might end up more hassle than it's worth........
Speak to the lawyer you are working with on your house purchase about this situation. There may be a way that you can send formal letters regarding the problems and withhold rent payment to the amount of your security deposit. Did you pay the last month's rent up front? If so, you don't need to pay that again. It's worth a few words with your lawyer to see if there's some strategy to minimize how much you have to pay.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 3:45 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

http://ctlawhelp.org/tenants-rights-...nforcement-law

This explains to way to use the courts in your area, closer to your move date he will probably rather let you break the lease than deal with this.
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Old Oct 17th 2011, 3:57 pm
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Default Re: Maintenance issues with our rental ?!?!

Originally Posted by Nutmegger View Post
Speak to the lawyer you are working with on your house purchase about this situation. There may be a way that you can send formal letters regarding the problems and withhold rent payment to the amount of your security deposit. Did you pay the last month's rent up front? If so, you don't need to pay that again. It's worth a few words with your lawyer to see if there's some strategy to minimize how much you have to pay.
I have already spoken with my lawyer about the maintenance issues and he did mention sending him a letter. I am definitely thinking down the route of putting a formal complaint in and forcing him to do the repairs, I know the excuse has been in the past that he couldn't afford the repairs, hence, why we offered to spend 4 weekends ripping up the old hall slates and laying a brand new floor

I'm thinking that because he's stalling on putting it on the market, his realtor was here last week and sent him a list of things needing done before it could go on the market again, that maybe I can force his hand by going down the route of the link that Benvinva sent me. I don't relish the thought of getting in to the legal side of it all, but the house electrics I know are not to code as our neighbour is an electrician and told us from day one that he wouldn't touch the upstairs electrics because he knows what's wrong Oooooo i hate all this crap - feel like going and ripping up the new floor and replacing it with the old one
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