Rental Issue/Dispute

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AD3
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Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by AD3 »

My son is currently having an issue with his apartment building, this past February he noticed that the water coming into his apartment was dirty. He notified the building about the issue and they tried to troubleshooting the issue, but nothing seemed to work. My son followed up by contacting the city about the water and they came by and said the city water wasn't the problem. I told him to get the water tested to see if the water is harmful or not. The building management is trying to move him to another apartment with a new lease and a discount although his lease ends in November. The discount is about $50 a month on rent. He stated that some of personal effects were damaged by the dirty water.

I suggested he call his renter insurance about seeing if he can make a claim. I suggested he get the water tested and see if the building is willing to refund his money on rent since this first started in February. I was also telling him that he should ask for more concessions, because what's offered isn't enough to remedy the issue.

One question I had is his lease void because of the dirty water? He's in California.

Anyone with advice on dealing with this issue?

Thanks in advance!
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gwe67
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by gwe67 »

What do you mean by dirty? It could be as simple as a bad water heater hose.

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AD3
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by AD3 »

gwe67 wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:26 pm What do you mean by dirty? It could be as simple as a bad water heater hose.

https://www.networx.com/article/black-s ... w-how-to-g
The water is brown at times, he doesn't have access to the water heater. The building has a property manager and they were unable to figure out what the issue was.
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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. »

what damage to property did it do? Clothes? If clothes, does he have his own washer/dryer or is he using a communal washer (i.e., can others in the building join him in getting the management to resolve the problem).

Also, has he tested the water in the other apartment he's thinking of moving to? I.e., is it just his apartment or the building? no sense in moving to another apartment if he's still going to have a problem in the new apartment.

How much was the damage? Is it worth it to file a claim? Usually you don't want to claim for smaller items you can pay out of pocket. I wouldn't make a claim unless there was major damage to furniture, etc.--thinking water pipe breaks and floods and damages expensive furniture/stereo, etc. What got damaged and what is it's replacement value?
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fyre4ce
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by fyre4ce »

I'm a bit confused. At first I thought you meant that the water coming out of the faucet was discolored. But when you said it damaged some of his personal effects, it makes me think it's dripping from the ceiling or something. Some clarification would be helpful. If it's coming from the faucet, is it only hot water or both hot and cold? (If just hot, it could be a problem with the water heater. They can collect sediment.) If both hot and cold, I'd expect it to be a problem that affects other tenants in his apartment building. Maybe ask them and see if they have any issues.

Getting the water independently tested seems like a good idea. Can't be that expensive, especially when his health is on the line.

Moving to another apartment might not be a bad option. If the new apartment is equally nice as the current one, plus starting over a new one year lease isn't a problem, why not? $50/month isn't a ton of money, but it's not nothing, especially if his income isn't high. If he can get friends to help move, there would be little or no moving cost (maybe a few pizzas). Then again, per above, if water problem isn't unique to his unit then moving wouldn't help.

You're not going to get any traction with the landlord (or the courts, if it goes that far) on getting a full rent refund for the period of February to now. If he lived there, he has to pay the rent. (Otherwise, every tenant could concoct some nuisance and demand to live there for free until the issue gets resolved to the tenant's satisfaction, which could take a very long time. Not saying this is what's going on, just what I understand the law to be. IANAL) If the place is truly uninhabitable, then move. If he moved due to contaminated water, then that would possibly be an effective defense if the landlord came after him to pay out the remainder of his lease, or lease termination fees, etc. But I'd feel a lot more comfortable doing this if (a) the water were truly contaminated and unhealthy to drink, and I had test results to prove it, and (b) I'd notified the landlord and given them reasonable opportunity to fix the problem. It's not that hard to get jugs of bottled water from the grocery store for drinking/cooking/teeth brushing for a few weeks until the cause gets investigated. The fact that it's been six months, to me, reflects as least as badly on the tenant that they're highly motivated to get the issue resolved.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by Sandtrap »

Questions and Clarifications:

Describe the "dirty water": light brown like ice tea, tinged brown, smells funny, tastes funny, light rust colored?

How long has this dirty water been entering the unit?

Is the dirty water coming from the faucet/shower? (all the faucets and all the showers?)

Is the dirty water coming from a water leak or flooding, seepage from ceilings, etc?

What was damaged by the dirty water?

When is the apartment lease going to expire?

How long has the problem been going on?

How long has it been since the landlord was notified of the problem?

What did the landlord do once notified of the problem?

What does the tenant want to do?
Move out?
Discontinue Lease?
Reimbursement for damages?
Other?

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FIREchief
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by FIREchief »

Sounds like good old fashioned rusting iron pipes. Does the water clear up after running it for a minute or two?
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celia
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by celia »

When he notified the city, he likely went to the wrong department. Instead of the water department, does the city/county have an agency/department overseeing rentals/ renter's right? What kind of health department is in the jurisdiction? (Does he live in Flint, MI?)

Part of the "problem"/"solution" probably involves what floor he lives on. Is there a unit above/below him, or to the side? Do any of the other tenants have backup/blockages? Is there a laundry room nearby or an outdoor faucet that is backing up? Do any tenants have plants or anything in their tubs/showers? (I heard of someone in our area whose tub was used only for growing rice.)
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AD3
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by AD3 »

arcticpineapplecorp. wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:43 pm what damage to property did it do? Clothes? If clothes, does he have his own washer/dryer or is he using a communal washer (i.e., can others in the building join him in getting the management to resolve the problem).

Also, has he tested the water in the other apartment he's thinking of moving to? I.e., is it just his apartment or the building? no sense in moving to another apartment if he's still going to have a problem in the new apartment.

How much was the damage? Is it worth it to file a claim? Usually you don't want to claim for smaller items you can pay out of pocket. I wouldn't make a claim unless there was major damage to furniture, etc.--thinking water pipe breaks and floods and damages expensive furniture/stereo, etc. What got damaged and what is it's replacement value?
Some clothing items were damaged, I believe some of the dishware was also damaged. They also have there own washer/dryer in the unit. They were going to see if any one in the building had any issues. I think they were planning on posting something on Nextdoor. I believe he has sent off the water to a testing company to see if the water is harmful, he is awaiting the result. The building has around 400 units and its a newly built building near a harbor. I think he had about $2000 in damages, and I think his deductible is $500.
fyre4ce wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:49 pm I'm a bit confused. At first I thought you meant that the water coming out of the faucet was discolored. But when you said it damaged some of his personal effects, it makes me think it's dripping from the ceiling or something. Some clarification would be helpful. If it's coming from the faucet, is it only hot water or both hot and cold? (If just hot, it could be a problem with the water heater. They can collect sediment.) If both hot and cold, I'd expect it to be a problem that affects other tenants in his apartment building. Maybe ask them and see if they have any issues.

Getting the water independently tested seems like a good idea. Can't be that expensive, especially when his health is on the line.

Moving to another apartment might not be a bad option. If the new apartment is equally nice as the current one, plus starting over a new one year lease isn't a problem, why not? $50/month isn't a ton of money, but it's not nothing, especially if his income isn't high. If he can get friends to help move, there would be little or no moving cost (maybe a few pizzas). Then again, per above, if water problem isn't unique to his unit then moving wouldn't help.

You're not going to get any traction with the landlord (or the courts, if it goes that far) on getting a full rent refund for the period of February to now. If he lived there, he has to pay the rent. (Otherwise, every tenant could concoct some nuisance and demand to live there for free until the issue gets resolved to the tenant's satisfaction, which could take a very long time. Not saying this is what's going on, just what I understand the law to be. IANAL) If the place is truly uninhabitable, then move. If he moved due to contaminated water, then that would possibly be an effective defense if the landlord came after him to pay out the remainder of his lease, or lease termination fees, etc. But I'd feel a lot more comfortable doing this if (a) the water were truly contaminated and unhealthy to drink, and I had test results to prove it, and (b) I'd notified the landlord and given them reasonable opportunity to fix the problem. It's not that hard to get jugs of bottled water from the grocery store for drinking/cooking/teeth brushing for a few weeks until the cause gets investigated. The fact that it's been six months, to me, reflects as least as badly on the tenant that they're highly motivated to get the issue resolved.
The water is coming out of the pipes. I can't say if other units are also having the same issue. They told him that they would would provide them with movers if they wanted to move to another apartment within the complex. He's been paying full rent since the issue has occurred.
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:23 pm Questions and Clarifications:

Describe the "dirty water": light brown like ice tea, tinged brown, smells funny, tastes funny, light rust colored? Brown in color. Its not visible.

How long has this dirty water been entering the unit? Since February 2020

Is the dirty water coming from the faucet/shower? (all the faucets and all the showers?) All the faucets and showers.

Is the dirty water coming from a water leak or flooding, seepage from ceilings, etc? No

What was damaged by the dirty water? Some clothing and dishware

When is the apartment lease going to expire? October 2020

How long has the problem been going on? Since February 2020

How long has it been since the landlord was notified of the problem? February 2020, they have been working on it since then, but they didn't test the water.

What did the landlord do once notified of the problem? They sent the maintenance person to check his unit and probably check the water heater.

What does the tenant want to do? Wants some sort of reimbursement for rent and the damages that occurred during the months of he had dirty water, he doesn't want to sign a new lease with the building until his lease is over. I think he wants his moving expenses paid as well.
Move out?
Discontinue Lease?
Reimbursement for damages?
Other?

j :happy
celia wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:31 pm When he notified the city, he likely went to the wrong department. Instead of the water department, does the city/county have an agency/department overseeing rentals/ renter's right? What kind of health department is in the jurisdiction? (Does he live in Flint, MI?)

Part of the "problem"/"solution" probably involves what floor he lives on. Is there a unit above/below him, or to the side? Do any of the other tenants have backup/blockages? Is there a laundry room nearby or an outdoor faucet that is backing up? Do any tenants have plants or anything in their tubs/showers? (I heard of someone in our area whose tub was used only for growing rice.)
He's in Northern California, I'm pretty sure he spoke to the right department. They gave him documentation that the water was clean.
tashnewbie
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by tashnewbie »

Sounds like the apartment has been habitable otherwise, and he has been there for 6 months since the issue occurred, so he's been managing. I think any argument he could make that his rent should be reduced for those months is weakened as a result.

He had $2k of damages to clothes and dishware? I'm surprised the dishware was damaged. Must be a lot of and/or expensive clothes!!

He'll have to determine if it's worth his time and energy to file a claim with his insurance for $1,500 (damages minus his deductible).

Maybe he could consult a legal aid attorney (or get an initial free consultation with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant issues) to see if he has any legal recourse and the likelihood of success.

I would be looking for a new apartment starting November 1.

Good luck!
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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. »

tashnewbie wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:39 pm Sounds like the apartment has been habitable otherwise, and he has been there for 6 months since the issue occurred, so he's been managing. I think any argument he could make that his rent should be reduced for those months is weakened as a result.

He had $2k of damages to clothes and dishware? I'm surprised the dishware was damaged. Must be a lot of and/or expensive clothes!!

He'll have to determine if it's worth his time and energy to file a claim with his insurance for $1,500 (damages minus his deductible).

Maybe he could consult a legal aid attorney (or get an initial free consultation with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant issues) to see if he has any legal recourse and the likelihood of success.

I would be looking for a new apartment starting November 1.

Good luck!
+1

I was thinking very similar things.
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tashnewbie
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by tashnewbie »

I'll also add: If he decides to consult an attorney or attempts to negotiate with the apartment complex to reduce his rent from Feb. through Aug. or get reimbursed for extra expenses he incurred as a result of the "dirty" water, he should have very good documentation to support those extra expenses. Examples: Receipts for bottled water he's purchased and laundromat expenses.
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by Sandtrap »

Actionable remedies given previous data:
(in order of likelyhood)

0. Remain in exist unit at exist rent and pursue solutions to dirty water with landlord. (no reimbursement of damages)
1 Ask landlord to discontinue lease without penalty and move.
2 Switch to another comparable unit in the complex with no alterationd of lease term and agreement.
3 Consult legal counsel for damages and discontinuing exist lease and move out.
(legal fees may exceed damages or case goes into long term limbo)
4 Take landlord to small claims court. Expect a positive and timely outcome all around.
5 Make a list of damages and reimbursements, give to landlord, get paid in full right away.
6. Any of the above, include call the Health Department and lodge a formal complaint.

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AD3
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by AD3 »

I just wanted to provide an update it seems that the boilers that are in the building haven't been maintenance since building was built and that has been causing the issue. The dirty water is most likely the rubber that is melting from the boiler. From what I've been told the building has know about this issue for some time and has not fixed it. I believe that building has been lying to him about the issue, since he only figured out about the issue when he called the plumbing company asking for a report. It seems that the whole building is being affected by the issue as well. I'm not sure what he should do but, the building seems pretty negligent.
tashnewbie
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by tashnewbie »

AD3 wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:42 am I just wanted to provide an update it seems that the boilers that are in the building haven't been maintenance since building was built and that has been causing the issue. The dirty water is most likely the rubber that is melting from the boiler. From what I've been told the building has know about this issue for some time and has not fixed it. I believe that building has been lying to him about the issue, since he only figured out about the issue when he called the plumbing company asking for a report. It seems that the whole building is being affected by the issue as well. I'm not sure what he should do but, the building seems pretty negligent.
Sounds like a sucky landlord/apartment complex.

Has he been looking for another place?

Has he consulted an attorney to see what his potential legal options are?

Has he filed an insurance claim?
IowaFarmBoy
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by IowaFarmBoy »

AD3 wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:42 am I just wanted to provide an update it seems that the boilers that are in the building haven't been maintenance since building was built and that has been causing the issue. The dirty water is most likely the rubber that is melting from the boiler.
So is the issue only with the hot water since the issue seems to be in the boiler? At least then they weren't likely to be drinking it.
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AD3
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by AD3 »

tashnewbie wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:04 pm
AD3 wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:42 am I just wanted to provide an update it seems that the boilers that are in the building haven't been maintenance since building was built and that has been causing the issue. The dirty water is most likely the rubber that is melting from the boiler. From what I've been told the building has know about this issue for some time and has not fixed it. I believe that building has been lying to him about the issue, since he only figured out about the issue when he called the plumbing company asking for a report. It seems that the whole building is being affected by the issue as well. I'm not sure what he should do but, the building seems pretty negligent.
Sounds like a sucky landlord/apartment complex.

Has he been looking for another place?

Has he consulted an attorney to see what his potential legal options are?

Has he filed an insurance claim?
They have been looking for a new place, they notified the landlord that they would not be extending their lease and that the unit was uninhabitable. They wanted to come to his apartment to make more repairs, when asked what repairs and what issues they were fixing the landlord couldn't answer. So he declined the offer to come and fix the issue. The attorney for building told him that they would need a court order in order for them to tell him what they fixing. I thought that this was an odd thing to tell them.

He is in the process of hiring a lawyer and filling a claim. The landlord said he could leave without having to pay a penalty fee or early termination fee. It seems like others in building are also dealing with the same issue. It seems to be a building wide issue, this might present a stronger case.
IowaFarmBoy wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 1:40 pm
AD3 wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:42 am I just wanted to provide an update it seems that the boilers that are in the building haven't been maintenance since building was built and that has been causing the issue. The dirty water is most likely the rubber that is melting from the boiler.
So is the issue only with the hot water since the issue seems to be in the boiler? At least then they weren't likely to be drinking it.
It seems to be an issue with the hot water.

Does anyone know if a landlord can withhold the reason for making repairs in your unit?
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Re: Rental Issue/Dispute

Post by fyre4ce »

AD3 wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:09 pm Does anyone know if a landlord can withhold the reason for making repairs in your unit?
No idea whether they're legally required to disclose the repairs they're making. But if they're not doing it, even if they'd be obligated to, the only way to get them to comply is with a court order (or a subpoena might work too). But why bother? This building and landlord sound pretty lousy. They're letting him out of the lease, so if I were him I'd just move and be done with it.

I'm not sure what suing them would accomplish. Force a disclosure for repairs for a place he no longer lives? Seek monetary damages? I'm not sure how you would prove any kind of damage. Consulting a lawyer is fine, but going ahead with a lawsuit could be expensive and a big hassle with no clear upside. If I were him I'd move, and move on with my life.
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