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Old 01-03-2010, 02:08 PM
 
Location: LawnGuyLind, NY / Sarasota, FL
1,429 posts, read 1,205,364 times
Reputation: 977

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This is a situation that I'm finding hard to believe.
Received a letter from LL saying that to send a serviceman to my apartment costs $200 a visit, and the Tenant is responsible.
It is a 50 unit building, Not subject to rent control or any city regulation. It happens to be the most expensive bldg in the county. When the temps are in the 20's outside, the only way we can get our bedroom to 68 degrees (The Temp the Town Code says it must be) is if the rest of the apt is in the low 80's. The thermostat is located only two feet from the heating unit (each unit has individually controlled heat & A/C). Landlord says no changes are needed, and the heat is working properly since there is heat in the unit (but not much in the BR).

Then in that letter where he said the heat is working properly (Contrary to what the HVAC Contractor told me when he was here), he added that from now on he'll be charging for repair calls to an apartment. There is No Super in this newly built building.

Standard lease that merely says he has to provide heat, etc "in good working order." Silent about paying for service, except that if there is damage due to acts of Tenant, tenant responsible. Of course.

Anyone ever hear of a LL charging for normal maintenance in an apartment? Isn't that one of the "joys" or renting; that if the heat or refrigerator or whatever fails, the LL has to make the repairs!?!
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Vermont
7,873 posts, read 5,000,287 times
Reputation: 6977
Have I ever heard of this?

Of course. Refusing to perform needed maintenance is normal landlord behavior.

I don't know where you are, but it is quite likely that your jurisdiction has a law requiring the landlord to maintain the property up to some state or municipal code, and it's possible that the landlord is failing to do that. It is also almost certain that the landlord is required to pay for required maintenance.

I would do some research into your local laws to find out what the landlord's obligations are.
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:30 PM
 
4,806 posts, read 12,072,394 times
Reputation: 4582
Quote:
Not subject to rent control or any city regulation.
"Rent control" only refers to restrictions on monetary increases, not living conditions or other responsibilities or duties.

Your situation should be covered by both administrative and contractual law. Administratively, your jurisdiction should have laws requiring a LL to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of their tenants and/or occupants. The jurisdiction may be a city, town, county, or state. Contractually, the LL is obligated to provide all of the services, products, and conditions that they committed to in the lease. If a working mechanical (heat/cooling) system was one of those conditions, then they are obligated to provide and maintain that in exchange for your monthly rent.
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:21 PM
 
Location: 39 20' 59"N / 75 30' 53"W
12,142 posts, read 12,632,453 times
Reputation: 13557
Check the Landlord Tenants Code for your state.(google it online)
Contact the Attorney Generals office in your jurisdiction.

The only reason a LL should have to charge you for a service call is for damages or repairs caused by your negligence.
The cost should be for the repair only, not a flat fee.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:57 AM
 
21,742 posts, read 37,240,355 times
Reputation: 10725
Is this is a highrise / commercial style building that has "hot side / cold side" type HVAC with continuous blend of air or a smaller type building that your unit has an traditional furnace? Makes a big difference. The hot side / cold side system could suffer from a stuck damper or lowered temps on the hot side that needs to be addressed.
OTOH if the unit has a furnace that is working the landlord has fulfilled their obligation -- balancing heat from room to room is very different than not having heat at all. Sorta sucks, but I know quite a few multi-unit apartments that heve very poor room to room balance and the tenants end up paying sky high utilities to overheat one room so the rest of the place is not too cold...
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:52 PM
 
Location: Boise, ID
5,571 posts, read 10,918,503 times
Reputation: 4980
Quote:
Originally Posted by virgode View Post
The only reason a LL should have to charge you for a service call is for damages or repairs caused by your negligence.
The cost should be for the repair only, not a flat fee.
I actually disagree.

If there really is nothing wrong with a particular service (be it the refrigerator, water heater, HVAC system, whatever), and the tenant keeps insisting we call someone out, we will pay for a first and second opinion. Further service calls become a tenant expense.

We've had this happen before with toilets. If they are normal rental toilets, they don't have a ton of flushing pressure. We've had tenants keep insisting that the toilets were broken because they clog up. They clog because the tenant tries to flush more than they should, or things that they shouldn't. We've had tenants call up service people on their own, after we've already had the toilet snaked and checked, and found to be just fine. The tenants try to deduct the expense from rent. There is nothing wrong with the toilet, so we will not pay the expense.

And as for the cost being only for repairs, and not a flat fee, the electrician/plumber/whoever charges a flat fee for the trip, even if they don't find anything to repair, so I think that is only fair to pass on.

I'm not saying that is the case for this OP, it sounds like you have a disconnected duct to me, or missing insulation in that room. In other words, a real issue. BUT, that isn't always true for tenants. Sometimes they get in their head that there is a problem, and won't let it go, even after being told by multiple professionals that everything is normal. In THOSE cases, I feel it is fair to charge the tenants for further service calls.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:17 PM
 
Location: LawnGuyLind, NY / Sarasota, FL
1,429 posts, read 1,205,364 times
Reputation: 977
Well, the HVAC Contractor who installed the system was just here. He was in the bldg at a different unit, and the cleaning person told him I was having a problem, so he stopped in. His brother had been here a few weeks & said to me that there was a problem, but then somehow the Owner got told that there was not a problem (or, more likely, the LL ignored the COntractor saying there was a problem). Took him less than a minute to realize that there was a big problem with the placement of the thermostat only 2' from the heating unit, and in a 4' X 4' alcove. He said that the thermostat needed to be moved. SHowed him the letter from the LL saying that his Co told them there was no problem, and he said that there must have been a miscommunication somewhere, as there IS definitely a problem. With the sun shining brightly thru the BR window, the BR was 11 degrees colder than the area where the thermostat is located.

There are about 10 units in this building who have similar layout, and similar problem.

It should be interesting when the LL tries to collect from me either for the cost of getting the heat working properly, OR the rent i plan to withhold if they do not do the repair that the A/C Contractor said will help alleviate the problem.

Have done extensive searching on NY law on this issue, and not much there - the outcome is very fact dependent on whether heat like this is adequate or not.
As for paying for repairs generally, nothing in the law states that he has to pay but nothing states that he doesn't have to pay. It clearly states though that he must provide all the utilities mentioned in lease in good working order, and that means (according to several cases), must be in good working order all during the tenancy at LL's expense, unless damaged by tenant.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:42 PM
 
Location: 39 20' 59"N / 75 30' 53"W
12,142 posts, read 12,632,453 times
Reputation: 13557
For chronic unnecessary calls, I agree, someones has to absorb the cost.

The new water saving toilets are big problems and it doesn't take much for them to clog. I have a guest that visits and can plan on a clogged toilet every time, to the point that I had to purchase a snake to save my self the embarrassment of calling maintenance on their off hours. No fault of mine as the renter nor my guest.

The tenant with problems with heating and plumbing that they feel are not adequately repaired have the option of contacting Code Enforcement. An outside opinion, Code isn't going to damage there reputation with non-sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lacerta View Post
I actually disagree.

If there really is nothing wrong with a particular service (be it the refrigerator, water heater, HVAC system, whatever), and the tenant keeps insisting we call someone out, we will pay for a first and second opinion. Further service calls become a tenant expense.

We've had this happen before with toilets. If they are normal rental toilets, they don't have a ton of flushing pressure. We've had tenants keep insisting that the toilets were broken because they clog up. They clog because the tenant tries to flush more than they should, or things that they shouldn't. We've had tenants call up service people on their own, after we've already had the toilet snaked and checked, and found to be just fine. The tenants try to deduct the expense from rent. There is nothing wrong with the toilet, so we will not pay the expense.

And as for the cost being only for repairs, and not a flat fee, the electrician/plumber/whoever charges a flat fee for the trip, even if they don't find anything to repair, so I think that is only fair to pass on.

I'm not saying that is the case for this OP, it sounds like you have a disconnected duct to me, or missing insulation in that room. In other words, a real issue. BUT, that isn't always true for tenants. Sometimes they get in their head that there is a problem, and won't let it go, even after being told by multiple professionals that everything is normal. In THOSE cases, I feel it is fair to charge the tenants for further service calls.
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:31 PM
 
Location: LawnGuyLind, NY / Sarasota, FL
1,429 posts, read 1,205,364 times
Reputation: 977
Quote:
Originally Posted by virgode View Post
For chronic unnecessary calls, I agree, someones has to absorb the cost.

The new water saving toilets are big problems and it doesn't take much for them to clog. I have a guest that visits and can plan on a clogged toilet every time, to the point that I had to purchase a snake to save my self the embarrassment of calling maintenance on their off hours. No fault of mine as the renter nor my guest.

The tenant with problems with heating and plumbing that they feel are not adequately repaired have the option of contacting Code Enforcement. An outside opinion, Code isn't going to damage there reputation with non-sense.

I agree with you on those water saving toilets. Had them in my house & they were always clogging (Especially after thanksgiving ).

One thing I must say about the toilets where I am now - they Are water-saving design, but different than those I had in the past. No Problems whatsoever - a really strong flush & quick refill.
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Pasadena
1,285 posts, read 1,864,361 times
Reputation: 1207
This seems to come down to interpretation of "good working order" or "adequate."

Couple tips:

Does your county have a department of consumer affairs or a number that handles landlord/tenant disputes? In Los Angeles county there is a whole "hotline" you can call to get pseudo legal advice when dealing with landlord/tenant disputes.

Also, another avenue you can explore is if there is some kind of city/county code that says a thermostat must be a certain distance from the unit itself.

You might want to try to get some low cost legal advice as well before preparing to go down the path that will likely lead to court.

In LA county there are very specific guidelines to various temperatures that devices must be able to reach (e.g. water heater needs to be able to heat the water to certain temperature, etc.). Where you live may/may not have similar type guidelines, especially if there's an energy efficiency push in general (this situation is obviously energy inefficient).
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