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Old 01-14-2009, 03:44 PM
 
1,955 posts, read 3,342,243 times
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The apartment complex where I live has just sent notices to every tenant stating that they are required to keep the water dripping at a minimal stream from every faucet for the entire duration of this freeze period. The notice also states that tenants can be held liable for any damage caused by burst pipes.

I've checked over my lease, and there is no such stipulation anywhere in the lease agreement. I have a feeling that the management company and/or its insurance company is attempting to shift liability onto the tenants when they in reality should be fully liable for such damage. After all, they could easily have built the buildings with much better insulation than they did.

I have not approached the management company about subsidizing what will certainly be an abnormally high water bill, as I know the answer will be a definite negative.

I am debating whether to protest now or simply ignore the notice. Every tenant is required to carry liability insurance anyway, and anyone who has common sense will also carry renter's insurance that covers property damage.

If anyone has ever been in a similar situation or has legal insight into this issue, please feel free to share.

What it basically comes down to is me not wanting to run up a large water bill to cover what should be the management company's liability due to poor insulation.
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:51 PM
 
Location: FL
2,392 posts, read 3,354,859 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneOne View Post
The apartment complex where I live has just sent notices to every tenant stating that they are required to keep the water dripping at a minimal stream from every faucet for the entire duration of this freeze period. The notice also states that tenants can be held liable for any damage caused by burst pipes.

I've checked over my lease, and there is no such stipulation anywhere in the lease agreement. I have a feeling that the management company and/or its insurance company is attempting to shift liability onto the tenants when they in reality should be fully liable for such damage. After all, they could easily have built the buildings with much better insulation than they did.

I have not approached the management company about subsidizing what will certainly be an abnormally high water bill, as I know the answer will be a definite negative.

I am debating whether to protest now or simply ignore the notice. Every tenant is required to carry liability insurance anyway, and anyone who has common sense will also carry renter's insurance that covers property damage.

If anyone has ever been in a similar situation or has legal insight into this issue, please feel free to share.

What it basically comes down to is me not wanting to run up a large water bill to cover what should be the management company's liability due to poor insulation.
That sounds shady to me. How can they hold you liable? I was thinking about letting my faucets drip but the water bill would be extremely high.
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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If your pipes burst just tell them you had them running, since you weren't instructed on how much to let it drip you did your best, so sorry...
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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This is completely legal and also completely normal. Heck, they even remind us to do this in our neighborhood. Contrary to what you may think, you will not have a high water bill. Your faucet doesn't need to be "running," there just needs to be a small drip to keep things moving. We have always done this in every vacant unit and when handling their utility bills, I never noticed a difference.

Just because something is not in your lease does not mean it's not your responsibility. I'm sure it says in your lease a general statement to the effect of you having to keep the premises in a safe and working order. Well this goes along with that. That's a common practice that will prevent a great deal of damage and you do have a responsibility to you and your neighbors to follow it. Keep in mind that you pipes are shared with other people, so if yours burst, you're harming them as well as yourself. Please don't ignore this-it's very important in a multifamily setting!
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:11 PM
 
158 posts, read 309,062 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babytarheelz View Post
This is completely legal and also completely normal.
Forgive my ignorance, but I don't see anything legal or normal in requiring tenants to keep their sinks running. If you choose to do that in your own home so be it, but you're avoiding a problem rather than addressing it. If a landlord wants to avoid his/her pipes from bursting, address the problem with proper insulation not at the cost of the tenants water bill(And North Carolina's water supply).
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:20 PM
 
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Because the tenant it required to keep the premises in a safe and working order. That's a legal and normal requirement and one that the renter agreed to when he took responsiblity for the apartment. If one of those things is to adhere to freeze warnings to protect the pipes, then that's what it is. And it has nothing to do with the insulation. All pipes can freeze. The reason you let the faucet drip during a freeze is not necessarily to let the water run, it's to keep the faucet open. This relieves the pressure of an ice blockage which is what causes pipes to burst in the first place. It's not going to cause a considerable loss of water nor will it be a large expense. It's a very normal thing.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:24 PM
 
1,955 posts, read 3,342,243 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babytarheelz View Post
Because the tenant it required to keep the premises in a safe and working order. That's a legal and normal requirement and one that the renter agreed to when he took responsiblity for the apartment. If one of those things is to adhere to freeze warnings to protect the pipes, then that's what it is. And it has nothing to do with the insulation. All pipes can freeze. The reason you let the faucet drip during a freeze is not necessarily to let the water run, it's to keep the faucet open. This relieves the pressure of an ice blockage which is what causes pipes to burst in the first place. It's not going to cause a considerable loss of water nor will it be a large expense. It's a very normal thing.
I grew up in a part of the Midwest that is much colder than North Carolina could ever dream of getting. Our houses were well insulated and nobody lets water drip during periods of freeze. If they did, there would be periods of water running for WEEKS on end.

I've pretty much decided to ignore this freeze warning.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:32 PM
 
Location: Sanford, NC
635 posts, read 1,877,682 times
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I can't speak to any legal obligation of the tenant to comply, but a couple thoughts on suggesting that the property/landlord is deficient in protecting the plumbing:

1) We live in a relatively mild climate, and hard freeze days are few as compared to colder climates. Buildings are built to the current building code when constructed, and our building code as applicable for our area doesn't stipulate any special pipe insulation, or building insulation that would absolutely prevent pipes from freezing in severe cold. And in fact, I've never seen building code in northern regions that require an absolute protection from pipe's freezing. As long as the builder/owner of the apartments built them to code in regard to insulation and plumbing, if the pipes freeze it won't be because the builder/owner was necessarily negligent.

2) Even the best built and insulated building can have pipes freeze once the temperatures stay well below freezing for extended periods of time, and most buildings are not the "best insulated" for a variety of reasons, again not all being cases of negligence, just a matter of fact. Much like the "weakest link in a chain" metaphor, all it takes is a small hole, fallen or displaced insulation, an open/drafty window/door, or other hole in the thermal envelope, and over a period of days both the interior and exterior temperatures can become cold enough to freeze standing water in the pipes, especially in exterior wall, crawlspace, basement, and attic areas.

With that in mind, it is a relatively normal and harmless request and practice to request that people leave their water dripping to avoid burst pipes. I know that in many places I've lived over the years, especially southern locales where houses may not be as well insulated, I can remember receiving similar advice/requests. And we always let our faucets drip in the hardest freezes up in Pennsylvania. I don't think the water bill was impacted much at all for those brief times.

Perhaps the tone of the request along with threats of liability were poorly chosen, but I think it is reasonable for the management company or landlord to ask the residents to help avoid frozen pipes during this rare hard freeze period and spare all the residents the heartache and damage it would cause.

They may be speaking from experience with the property and past freezes, so one may want to take the request seriously. Burst pipes and flooding are a nightmare to work with, especially when it is freezing cold outside. I can remember several nights with my father and a propane torch trying to defrost pipes in houses under construction so we could drain the system and they wouldn't burst... and this was in Houston, TX. And it was indeed miserable.

I'm not sure if the reticence to follow this advice is because one is worried about wasting water, a higher water bill, or is just offended by the letter. If the latter, I can again empathize and think the tone may have been a poor tack. But for the former reasons, I don't think the water bill will even have a noticeable increase nor will much water be wasted from a slow drip. However, if the pipes do burst, that may be a different story for everyone involved.

Al

Last edited by al_roethlisberger; 01-14-2009 at 04:48 PM..
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:36 PM
 
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StoneOne - this is North Carolina and the pipes are not as well insulated, its just a fact and there is nothing you or the apartment management can do to change it now. My parents lived in a townhouse apartment during the coldest recorded temperatures ever in this area - below 0. They were the only ones in the building to let their water run and so our pipes did not freeze - but our next door neighbor's did flooding our apartment. The neighbors had thousands of dollars in damage and we were greatly inconvenienced. Will your renter's insurance cover that amount of damage? How would you feel if your neighbors' property was damaged because of your decision?
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Downtown Raleigh, NC
2,082 posts, read 5,134,040 times
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I would surmise that the value of not having a flooded apartment (and possibly flooding neighboring apartments), then dealing with an insurance claim, then having to purchase replacement [insert damaged personal property of choice], etc. would greatly outweigh a couple dollars (at most) extra on the water bill.
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