getting screwed
NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 5:50PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
This is more a long rant than anything else, so if you're expecting something more than a vauge question about renting an apartment, tune out now...

Anyway, I live in an old apartment building. I've lived here for over three years, haven't had any problems, always paid rent on time, etc. About 3 months ago the cement roof in the bathroom started leaking. I called the landlord, he brought in a plumber, and they smashed out the roof, leaving the pipes exposed and rusty colored water laking into the sink. I think there is also something growing on the exposed bricks and occasionaly cement drips from the roof on to the floor.

Over the last 3 months, the landlord has had a plumber in a few times, and theyve replaced the toilet above me, etc, etc. Last time the plumber was here, i heard him tell my landlord that the next step was to rip out the bathroom ceiling, as the dripping was as strong as ever despite all the repairs above me. This was about a month ago. I hesitated to move out because the apartment is in a great location and the price is really reasonable, and he's strung me along, alwways telling me that they're trying something else. In reality, the plumber just comes in and says the ame thing every 2 weeks or so. It became clear he was just avoiding what obviously needed to be done because it was so expensive.

Anyway, by about 2 weeks ago I've had enough, call him up and very calmly and reasonably tell him it's nothing personal but if it's not fixed by the end of the month I can't justify paying him rent anymore. He then calls a few days later and basically tells me he doesn't know what to do next. I say fine, I'm moving out at asap. he very maturely hangs up on me. fine, whatever.

today i get a notice telling me that i have to pay sept rent (even though im moving out in 2 days) . i call him up and tell him it;s ridculous,'m not being provided a reasonable place to live and i 'm not paying anymore. then 3 months of frustration comes out, i rip him a new one and tell hime to stick his rent up his a**.

Talking to a few friends in the real estate and law business, apparently i might be technically right but it'll be almost impossible to not get it taken to court and have fees, etc.

basically i'm grudgingly going to pay rent, call the housing authority and health department about the possible mold....any lawyers or real estate guys have any sugggestions on how i might be able to get something back out of this? i really don't care about the money, it's more the principle of the thing.

sorry for the long rant, hopefully i'll at least get some constructive advice though....
Laypinion
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 5:54PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I don't know the law side, but what a mess.... do what you can to bring the forces of good against this slum lord... you have the moral high ground in all of this..
Milton Friedman
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:01PM - in reply to Laypinion Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hopefully somebody else can chime in with legal advice, but I would make sure to take pictures before moving out.
Mundus Vult Decipi
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:04PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
What state do you live in?
getting screwed
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:05PM - in reply to Mundus Vult Decipi Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
missouri....pprently the law is more stacked to landlords here than say california or NY, which obviously isn't great for me...
iloverunning824
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:14PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Is it too far fetch of an idea to have him killed for less than what you would pay rent this coming month?
mundus vult decipi
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:28PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
A lease is a strange mixture of contract law, property law and usually some state statutes. I am not licensed in Missouri and you would need to contact a competent attorney to understand the law in that state. However, here are some things to consider:

(a) Look closely at your lease agreement. Read it carefully. Look for any clause that details the landlord's obligations. Look for a habitability provision. You essentially want to find an explicit duty that your landlord has breached.

(b) If that fails, look at the Missouri landlord-tenant statutes. Your state has been nice enough to create a PDF online: http://ago.mo.gov/publications/landlordtenant.pdf
which reads at about a third grade level. I would scan through http://www.moga.mo.gov/STATUTES/C441.HTM especially the sections on repairs. Obviously, you are not an attorney but you may familiarize yourself with the law. Being familiar with your rights will go a long way in negotiating a settlement.

(c) I would advise that you call the landlord back and negotiate. From the scant facts in your story, the amount of money in question will not likely be worth attorney's fees for either of you. Negotiate an agreement with him if you can.

(d) If you fail at (c), then you can contact legal aid in your state and see if they will represent you. If you attend a major university, they almost always offer representation to their students. Check with the office of University counsel.

I am sorry that I can't be of more help. Generaly speaking, I would know your rights and try to settle this one.
Blowing Rock Master
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:29PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Call up a realtor who deals in rental properties and they can probably tell you what the law is in your state, without charging you $300 like a lawyer would. In NC, as long as you move out because of landlord negligence you don't owe any rent past the day you leave. If you can, take pictures and contact the plumber who has been "working" on the leak.

If it were me, I wouldn't pay past my last day. If your landlord takes you to court, it'll be small claims court. The worst thing that will happen there is the court will make you pay a month's rent. You don't need a lawyer in small claims court, so financially you won't be any worse off than if you pay for September now.

Good luck!
Les
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 6:49PM - in reply to Blowing Rock Master Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You should call Housing ASAP. It's probably a violation to have a constant leak, open ceiling situation like that.
stipe
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 8:38PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Not sure how to handle it now that you are moving, but I think the correct action would have been to inform the landlord in writing that if it was not repaired by a certain date, you would have it repaired and deduct the costs from your rent.
I am not sure you should pay Sept rent because once you have paid, it will be more difficult to recover. I would think it would be better to communicate in writing why you are not paying and make them pursue you. You might end up paying later, but in the meantime, the money is better in your pocket.
Blowing Rock Master
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/1/2008 8:59PM - in reply to stipe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Don't know what the law is in MO, but it's illegal in NC to deduct the repair cost from his rent without prior (written) approval.
c i l l my lanlord
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 3:40AM - in reply to Blowing Rock Master Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You need to see a lawyer or try a legal aid clinic if you want legal advice about your specific situation. Below are some general guidelines that are only intended to help people better be able to understand the laws of their own jurisdiction. Every state is different.

As a general rule in most jurisdictions, the obligation to pay rent is independent of your landlord's obligation to maintain the premises. What that means is that you generally have to keep paying rent no matter what is going on with repairs.

Most jurisdictions will have some sort of statute allowing a tenant the option to deduct the cost of repairs from their rent. But their are usually requirements for written notice and sometimes limitations on repairs. Don't ever deduct rent without knowing exactly what the statute says. You can get evicted if you do not follow procedures.

Slum lords do not like it when tenants complain about repairs and will often withhold repairs in order to either evict the tenant (when they mistakenly try to withhold rent) or get a judgment against a tenant for rent when the tenant moves out without giving proper notice or during the term of a lease.

So, watch out renters. The laws are usually stacked in favor of landlords. And, if you get evicted, you will have a hard time renting from a decent place as there will be a public record of your eviction judgment. Also, a judgment for rent is also a public record that can trash your credit rating.
track chick
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 3:41AM - in reply to stipe Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
If the repair cost is in the thousands it just may not be possible to do that anyway.

I would pay, pro rata, up to and including the day you leave the property.

If you have a deposit, you need to factor this in too as it's possible you may not get it back.
BoardGuest
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 4:33AM - in reply to track chick Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Your town/County employs a code enforcement officer. In some locales they are called building inspectors.

There are a check on slumlords, amongst other things.

Have the code enforcement officer come look at the apartment. He might well deem it not fit for habitation, he could also force the landlord to make the repairs and not let him refill the apartment until the repairs are made.
WK
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 9:17AM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I had a similiar incident with the landlord where my apartment needed repairs in Missouri. From everything that I read trying to figure out how to deal with my situation, you need to send your landlord a letter stating the issues with your apartment. In mine I stated when it started, dates from when I called, etc this way there is written documentation of your request that they will need to show how they are responding to the situation and it is not some he said she said argument.

For me this and a call politely asking what the status was in a message and asking if he was going to repair it or if he wanted me to have it repaired and have the invoice go to him did the trick. The next step for me was to call the Health Department.

One thing that I did see in the guidelines if a recall was to refuse to pay rent. Landlord boots you out, sues you and gets your money, and your left with bad credit.

Do some research and good luck.
getting screwed
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 10:03AM - in reply to WK Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
thanks a lot, i didn't expect so many serious replies...

i did some more checking, and i think the ones who were sayng that it'll go against my record are right. i don't want the hassle of dealing with a bad rental/credit history, but you can bet i'm calling the health and housing departments as soon as i get my deposit back, and at least i gave the little pr*** a good reaming yesterday. In hindsight i also should have put a complaint in writing a while ago. Sucks that crappy slumlords have so much power....
run for the sun
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 10:44AM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Who gives more in campaign contributions: renters or landlords? The laws are stacked everywhere for landlords.

If you are worried about getting sued, you should go down to your local small claims court and ask the clerk whether they would be willing to search for claims filed by or against your landlord. If they won't do it, they should tell you how you can do it yourself (or for a small fee). If you find a bunch of claims filed by your landlord against tenants. If your landlord has filed a lot of claims against his tenants, you should think carefully about whether you move on quietly or try calling the health dep't.
jonesy.
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 2:27PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I highly doubt that there is any good reason for you to pay any extra rent here. There is a clear safety and health violation by your landlord, who is cognizant of the problem. You are very unlikely to get any redress after vacating the apartment.
o.O
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 2:31PM - in reply to getting screwed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I would stay in the aparament and try and make it less desirable for all the other tenants so more complaints would go through than just yours.
getting screwed
RE: NRR: landlord won't fix leaking roof, still making me pay rent 9/2/2008 2:56PM - in reply to jonesy. Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

jonesy. wrote:

I highly doubt that there is any good reason for you to pay any extra rent here. There is a clear safety and health violation by your landlord, who is cognizant of the problem. You are very unlikely to get any redress after vacating the apartment.


yeah, common sense would tell you so....unfortunately that doesn't look like the case. talked to a lwyer and to get out of this moths rent i would have to give written notice of "constructive eviction" - basically the apartment is unfit to live in and i'm forced to leave. in missouri it's apparently a very high standard. ***heads. like i said its not really about the moeny, its the principle of paying him another month that really pisees me off.