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Old 03-31-11, 09:08 AM   #1
phantomcow2
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How do I proceed: a landlord question.

I'm getting pretty frustrated with my landlord. Here's a little context:
3 other students and I live in a house, while the landlord, a recent graduate from the same college, lives upstairs in a finished attic.

My feeling is that the landlord isn't being attentive enough to the house. I want to know if I'm off base on this and if I'm not, what I can do about it.

A few months ago my friend (and roommates) doorknob broke, not to mention they all squeaked loudly. The landlord said he'd "look into it." Of course he never did. I ended up fixing it.

One of the rubber stoppers in the toilet broke, making it difficult to flush, and of course he said he'd "get to it when he has time." I ended up repairing it myself.

The light fixture above the kitchen sink failed. I told him, and he said he doesn't know how to replace the bulb. Right, so I bought a bulb and did it myself.

When we moved into the house the railing was ripped off of the wall. Despite repeated requests that it be fixed, it hasn't been.

The freezer isn't cold enough to keep ice cream frozen solid, and it's adjusted to the coldest setting. I confronted him and he told me "to reduce the amount of stuff in there." It's not that full and I feel I should be entitled to a freezer capable of maintaining cold levels such that ice cream can stay frozen.

I understand the landlord prefers to fix things himself for financial reasons, and that he's a busy guy with his job and the army, but my feeling is that it's then his responsibility to hire someone. How should I proceed?
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Old 03-31-11, 09:26 AM   #2
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In Oregon the tenant can do this:

Alert the landlord in writing of the repairs with a 30 day window. After 30 days the tenant can make reasonable repairs and deduct them from his rent. You would want to put that in the letter. Make sure you send the letter certified return receipt requested so that you have a record that the letter was received.

Also in Oregon if safety is a concern, the hand rail, the landlord must make the repair quickly because of liability issues. This may be actionable. Interpret that word however you want.

Check your local laws re landlord/tenant. Usually there are books or publications that are free or low in cost. Nolo.com is a good place to start.
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Old 03-31-11, 09:28 AM   #3
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How many landlord problems could one person really have.
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Old 03-31-11, 09:35 AM   #4
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I would start by finding access to the house's crawl space and seeing if the soil under the house is easy to dig in.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 03-31-11, 09:37 AM   #5
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How many landlord problems could one person really have.
Whole panels have been formed about the slumlords that line the border of college and city property here.
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Old 03-31-11, 09:45 AM   #6
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Whole panels have been formed about the slumlords that line the border of college and city property here.
Have you checked with local landlord/tenant attorneys to see if there is a current action re this? Have you called the Department of Justice to inquire about the same? Have you called the mayor's office to inquire about the same? Have you called the Prosecutor's office re the same?
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Old 03-31-11, 10:46 AM   #7
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http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ll.?highlight=
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ord?highlight=

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ly.?highlight=
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ord?highlight=
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ed)?highlight=
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...fix?highlight=
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Old 03-31-11, 11:05 AM   #8
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LOL!! ^^^^ I was gonna do that but I was too lazy to.
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Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 03-31-11, 12:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I_like_cereal View Post
In Oregon the tenant can do this:

Alert the landlord in writing of the repairs with a 30 day window. After 30 days the tenant can make reasonable repairs and deduct them from his rent. You would want to put that in the letter. Make sure you send the letter certified return receipt requested so that you have a record that the letter was received.


Also in Oregon if safety is a concern, the hand rail, the landlord must make the repair quickly because of liability issues. This may be actionable. Interpret that word however you want.

Check your local laws re landlord/tenant. Usually there are books or publications that are free or low in cost. Nolo.com is a good place to start.
Exactly.
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How many landlord problems could one person really have.
Word! Buddy, you should just find a campsite and pitch a tent for a semester. You will have less problems and probably free wi-fi.
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Old 03-31-11, 12:23 PM   #10
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To be honest, it sounds like you might be up the creek unless you want to go to court.

In my experience, a landlord's hand cannot be forced until a judge gets involved. Then, good luck getting reasonable rent next time your lease is up.

If he's not fulfilling his responsibilities according to your expectations, you're going to have to document your requests to him (in writing, not verbally) and then once the paper trail seems to show his pattern of behavior you can take action.

My first step would be to talk to him about your issues and how his behavior violates the lease agreement. No lease agreement? Move. He'll be less happy without your monthly.

Start off by searching for your state's "Tenant's Bill of Rights" or the like. Also, look to see what your state or local codes allow for in your way of rights.

But truthfully it sounds like you're going to have to grit your teeth, take it like a champ, dot your "I"s and cross your "T"s and make sure you don't give him ANY reason you charge you after you move.
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Old 03-31-11, 12:38 PM   #11
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Wow, and some of those are pretty old...
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Old 03-31-11, 01:14 PM   #12
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One of my housemates once pried a cash settlement out of our landlord (or his real estate mgmt company) claiming CO from an inefficient water heater in a utility room below his bedroom was causing his headaches and stuff. (we used to use that room as a food dryer to make jerky). He was a lawyer and was good at haggling things like that. In every other case when I've had something I *had* to fix on a rental, I fixed it and deducted parts (but not labor for my time) from the rent.
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Old 03-31-11, 01:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I_like_cereal View Post
Alert the landlord in writing of the repairs with a 30 day window. After 30 days the tenant can make reasonable repairs and deduct them from his rent. You would want to put that in the letter. Make sure you send the letter certified return receipt requested so that you have a record that the letter was received.
this. Check the local legal language and see if you can hire someone to do the work, even if it's fixing a light bulb. What happens if you're injured while performing work that he should have done? where do you draw the line? Up on a ladder cleaning leaves out of the gutter?
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Old 03-31-11, 02:00 PM   #14
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I can just see the tent stake / guy line / ground cloth threads that we are gonna get pelted with if he follows y'alls advice, or the lime / trash bags and duct tape / bleach to kill odor threads if he follows my advice.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 03-31-11, 02:49 PM   #15
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definitely splurge on titanium tent stakes if you're going to be packing up and moving often.
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Old 03-31-11, 03:54 PM   #16
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in NYC we have 311 to report issues, not sure if you have something similar.
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Old 03-31-11, 04:29 PM   #17
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Old 03-31-11, 04:33 PM   #18
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Why not offer to maintain his property for a fee. Start with a $100 flat fee per month and then a separate per-instance charge.

If you're concerned about getting injured while maintaining his property, ask him to prove that he has adequate liability insurance.
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Old 03-31-11, 04:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
I'm getting pretty frustrated with my landlord. Here's a little context:
3 other students and I live in a house, while the landlord, a recent graduate from the same college, lives upstairs in a finished attic.

My feeling is that the landlord isn't being attentive enough to the house. I want to know if I'm off base on this and if I'm not, what I can do about it.

A few months ago my friend (and roommates) doorknob broke, not to mention they all squeaked loudly. The landlord said he'd "look into it." Of course he never did. I ended up fixing it.

One of the rubber stoppers in the toilet broke, making it difficult to flush, and of course he said he'd "get to it when he has time." I ended up repairing it myself.

The light fixture above the kitchen sink failed. I told him, and he said he doesn't know how to replace the bulb. Right, so I bought a bulb and did it myself.

When we moved into the house the railing was ripped off of the wall. Despite repeated requests that it be fixed, it hasn't been.

The freezer isn't cold enough to keep ice cream frozen solid, and it's adjusted to the coldest setting. I confronted him and he told me "to reduce the amount of stuff in there." It's not that full and I feel I should be entitled to a freezer capable of maintaining cold levels such that ice cream can stay frozen.

I understand the landlord prefers to fix things himself for financial reasons, and that he's a busy guy with his job and the army, but my feeling is that it's then his responsibility to hire someone. How should I proceed?
A lot of this stuff might be covered under your local law. I'm not a lawyer so can't comment on specific legalities of being a tenant.

Personally, if a doorknob squeaks that's the kind of thing you either live with or move. Although the landlord will have certain legal responsibilities regarding the property things that are annoying rather than dangerous aren't the kind of thing I'd expect to be covered by the force of law. Likewise if a bulb blows I'd expect to put a new bulb in myself. If a very obscure kind of bulb blows or the bulb is in the kind of place that's very hard to get at, then I might ask the landlord to do it.

If the railing is a protective thing to stop someone falling down the stairs, that could be a legal issue. If it's a hand railing to hold while you go up the stairs it probably isn't. The fact it was "ripped off the wall" leads me to wonder whether it's a safety feature or just an optional extra.

If the freezer is clearly included in your lease agreement it seems you can reasonably expect it to work. If it's not included in the lease agreement and is effectively thrown in as a bonus you probably get to put up with it.

If the landlord shirks his legal responsibilities the fact he is a busy guy, prefers to do stuff himself to save money but just doesn't have a lot of time is his problem. If you have a provision in your local laws to undertake repairs yourself if the landlord fails to do them you might as well take full advantage of it. But as others have said, don't be surprised if he responds by increasing your rent or not renewing your lease if you take it too far ("too far" in this context means costing him more than he's happy with). Be aware of clauses like "reasonable repairs", while it might be considered reasonable to fix a broken toilet flush and deduct the cost from your rent I'd be surprised if it was considered reasonable to expect the landlord to pay for a replacement light bulb - personally I regard lightbulbs as being consumable items and wouldn't expect them to be paid for any more than I'd expect my toilet paper or daily newspaper to be paid for.

I don't know about student accommodation in your town, when I was a student it was pretty much par for the course that student accommodation wasn't pristine, there would be issues with the house, and the landlords wouldn't spend a lot of money on fixing the place up because the students wouldn't show the property much respect. So for all that can lead to a vicious downward spiral that may just be the way it is.
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Old 03-31-11, 05:21 PM   #20
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I've been a college town landlord for about 6 years now, and I have to say, most college town landlords suck... poor property maintenance, and the security deposit is like an extra gift! We ask our kids to call with any and all problems, and unless they've been poking holes in the walls for fun, they generally get thier deposits back - we also charge them for breakage & repair of THEIR damages as they occur: appliances and fixtures dying of old age do not enter into that, but passing out in the tub & flooding the bathroom & the one below it would! We have lucked out with a series of kids who are moderately respectful (ok, hubby yells at them like he's thier dad...) Needless to say, we have a lengthy wait list for apartments, and for those that decide to stay in the area, a wait list on the rental house as well.

The OP should have figured out his tenant rights by now!! HINT: looking for a good landlord? ask ALL your friends about where they live, how the maintenance is, how the landlord is, etc. When you find a landlord that sounds good to you, call them & see what they have open - start now for next year.

I don't understand landlords who let thier property fall down around itself; maybe they just look at it as a tax deduction instead of an investment. My properties are my retirement account!
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