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Old 11-20-2008, 02:49 AM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 230,327 times
Reputation: 13

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Hey, y'all.

I live in Jersey City, near Five Corners, and I have a problem that I hope someone out there is knowledgeable enough to help me with.

Do you know how, occasionally, refrigerators will cycle "on" (you might be able to hear the motor hum when it does this) in order to do what they do? Well, the other day (Sunday, the 16th), the refrigerator in my apartment cycled on in the morning, and stayed on for a couple of hours. Since then, it's been cycling on and off every 15 to 20 minutes. Every day.

I have two issues with this: (1) this doesn't strike me as normal since, in the five months that I've lived here, it hasn't cycled on and off with this kind of frequency, (2) when it cycles on, the motor is very loud (this is no ordinary background hum); in fact, it sounds as if it's overworked or struggling, or...well, something not normal. (Or, maybe it HAS been cycling with this frequency all along, and I never noticed because the motor has been quiet until now.) And since my apartment has railroad layout, and the kitchen is not walled off from the living area, the noise is present enough to drive me to distraction. (This is a relatively new refrigerator (a basic GE model, nice, but nothing fancy)--I'd estimate about 5-10 years old, if even that much.)

I've checked the seals around the doors, and nothing is amiss there, so even though I know next to nothing about refrigerators, I'm guessing that this could perhaps be a thermostat problem. I would offer that it could be a freon leak, but both the cold and freezer comparts are holding their temperatures just fine, so I doubt that it could be that.

I contacted the landlord via e-mail (I've been sick lately, so I don't have much of a voice), and when I hadn't heard from him after 24 hours, I texted him. He wrote back, telling me that a broken fridge would be my responsibility. HUH?! I've NEVER heard this before (unless, of course, for intentional damage or neglect by the tenant), so I checked my lease to be sure that I hadn't missed something when I signed it.

All I can find is the standard "Care of the Apartment" clause, which states, in part: "...tenant must pay for all repairs, replacements, and damages caused by the act or neglect of the Tenant, Tenant's household members or their visitors." (This is followed by the standard "Repairs by Landlord" clause of the lease, which states that the landlord must be promptly notified...has a reasonable amount of time to make repairs, blah-blah-blah.) Other than that, there is *nothing* that explicity states that repairs to appliances not belonging to the tenant are the tenant's responsibility.

I certainly understand that I'd be responsible for damage that occurs due to my actions or neglect, but I've done nothing unusual to the refrigerator--it just started doing this on its own. Given that, can I legally be held responsible for having the fridge looked at and repaired, or since it came with the apartment, is the landlord resposible?

I'd appreciate any advice that comes my way. Oh, and if you think you might have a clue as to what's wrong with my fridge, I'd appreciate that, too.

Thank you very much.

P.S.--Other pertinent details: Again, I live in Jersey City, near Five Corners; I haven't even once been late with the rent, and I haven't created any problems for either the landlord or other tenants. Also, the landlord hasn't, to my knowledge, tried to screw me before, but like I said, this is a new one on me.
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Old 11-20-2008, 04:49 AM
 
Location: OH->FL->NJ
17,003 posts, read 12,585,284 times
Reputation: 8921
The landlord owns the fridge. If you didnt break it and your lease does not say otherwise, its his repair. Ask him where it says in your lease his repair is your problem. It might, but call him on it.

Note: I have seen on the renting forum where they stick a clause in that says something to the effect of all appliances are convenience items only and your problem. Id never sign such an animal unless I got a discount for lack of refrigerator as I expect one in any lease. Refrigerators DO NOT TRAVEL WELL. Every time you move with one you have a fairly high risk of killing it. Washers and dryers are fine. Ill provide my own.
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Old 11-20-2008, 04:54 AM
 
Location: Vermont
5,439 posts, read 16,856,876 times
Reputation: 2651
We moved into our rental, and there was no fridge . To me that is ridiculous. I bought an $800 fridge, and when we left, I told the guy I will sell it to you for 200 bucks. He wouldn't even take it. Who the hell wants to move into a rental, then have to think about finding a refrigerator?

I do not think this is an act of neglect. I think this is going to be difficult though. We had a washer/dryer included with rent, but it was specified that these were NOT included and they were coincidentally left by the last tenant. Have you read your rental agreement over?
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Old 11-21-2008, 04:22 AM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 230,327 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ottomobeale View Post
The landlord owns the fridge. If you didnt break it and your lease does not say otherwise, its his repair. Ask him where it says in your lease his repair is your problem. It might, but call him on it.
Oh, believe me, I intend to. First, though, I'm going to call the building's broker since he's much more familiar with the landlord than I am, and I want to get his take on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ottomobeale View Post
Note: I have seen on the renting forum where they stick a clause in that says something to the effect of all appliances are convenience items only and your problem. Id never sign such an animal unless I got a discount for lack of refrigerator as I expect one in any lease. Refrigerators DO NOT TRAVEL WELL. Every time you move with one you have a fairly high risk of killing it. Washers and dryers are fine. Ill provide my own.
Yeah, I know that quite a few places in Jersey require you to have your own refrigerator (don't think I've ever seen an ad that stipulated that you had to provide your own stove/oven, though). Depending on any number of factors, I might or might not go for that, but for the most part, even if I can afford to buy a fridge, I prefer for the apartment that I'm moving into to already have one (as I wouldn't want to worry about moving/selling it once I got a new place).

Thank you so much for your advice.
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Old 11-21-2008, 04:26 AM
 
Location: The Beautiful Pocono Mountains
5,450 posts, read 8,759,695 times
Reputation: 3002
It's illegal in NJ to sell or rent a house/apartment with no stove. If that refrigerator isn't yours and you didn't intentionally break it, which it doesn't sound like you did, it's not your responsibility.

Did you try unplugging it and plugging it back in in a few minutes?? Sometimes it's just "stuck" and that will take care of it.
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Old 11-21-2008, 04:39 AM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 230,327 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
We moved into our rental, and there was no fridge . To me that is ridiculous. I bought an $800 fridge, and when we left, I told the guy I will sell it to you for 200 bucks. He wouldn't even take it. Who the hell wants to move into a rental, then have to think about finding a refrigerator?
Yeah, for real. Or who wants to figure out what to do with it if your next place already has one?

I think that the landlord didn't want to buy your fridge, even for the basement price of $200, because he couldn't really be sure of its condition and likelihood of continued operation. As far as he's concerned, why should he spend any money on a fridge when he can simply have the tenants spend their own money if they want a fridge? And so on and so on, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
I do not think this is an act of neglect. I think this is going to be difficult though. We had a washer/dryer included with rent, but it was specified that these were NOT included and they were coincidentally left by the last tenant. Have you read your rental agreement over?
No, it wasn't an act of neglect, as I haven't neglected the fridge in anyway. I just think that it's one of those things that happens--appliances, like any other machines, break down just due to normal wear and tear or, sometimes, the breakdown can be idiopathic.

Yep, I've re-read my lease, and still, there's nothing in it that states explicitly that I'm responsible for repairs to appliances (unless, again, I've done something to cause the breakdown). If the landlord insists that it's my responsibility, I'll assume the cost of any repairs only if a landlord/tenant attorney (with whom I intend on consulting) confirms as much.

I really hope that this guy is just making an honest error (which he quickly corrects), and is not out to confirm my worst suspicions about landlords.
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Old 11-21-2008, 04:44 AM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 230,327 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseyt719 View Post
It's illegal in NJ to sell or rent a house/apartment with no stove. If that refrigerator isn't yours and you didn't intentionally break it, which it doesn't sound like you did, it's not your responsibility.

Did you try unplugging it and plugging it back in in a few minutes?? Sometimes it's just "stuck" and that will take care of it.
Oh, so that's why I've never seen a "provide your own stove" ad! Thanks.

No, I haven't tried unplugging it, then plugging it back in. The most I've done has been to turn it off (via the temperature knob inside the fridge), then immediately turn it back on. When I get home, though, I'm going to try it your way and see what happens.

Thank you very much!
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Old 11-21-2008, 05:12 AM
 
Location: NJ
23,861 posts, read 33,529,254 times
Reputation: 30763
What I would do is unplug, then pull it out, take the front panel off (usually at the bottom) then try to vac it out. I also use one of those blue swiffers on it. I also taped an old toothbrush to a dowel, that's great to use for something like this.

Next in the back, you want to see how much crud is around the motor then vac that out.

Also check the inside of the freezer/fridge to see if any holes have crud.
After we moved in here I noticed our 2nd fridge was acting up (wasn't loud though) turns out something was blocking the freezer door from shutting all of the way. Eventually it iced up and I was able to see it but it looked fine up until that point.

Possible the motor/compressor is going. You want to make sure you deal with this before the weekend because if it breaks, then what? Do you have a lot of food in it?
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:03 AM
 
707 posts, read 1,021,967 times
Reputation: 134
In the state of NJ, the landlord is only responsible to provide a working Stove. Tenants are responsible to furnish their own refridgerator. If the one supplied is broken, the landlord is not responsible to fix. I know is sucks, but unfortunately that is the case.

I moved into an apartment that supplied a refridgerator, I worked out with the landlord to sign up for the PSEG maintenance program and deduct that montly fee off my rent every month. Again i know is sucks, those things aren't cheap especially in this economy.
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 230,327 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by proudmama View Post
In the state of NJ, the landlord is only responsible to provide a working Stove. Tenants are responsible to furnish their own refridgerator. If the one supplied is broken, the landlord is not responsible to fix. I know is sucks, but unfortunately that is the case.

I moved into an apartment that supplied a refridgerator, I worked out with the landlord to sign up for the PSEG maintenance program and deduct that montly fee off my rent every month. Again i know is sucks, those things aren't cheap especially in this economy.
I hear ya, but here's the thing: I just spoke with the building's broker, who is an experienced broker and who's been leasing apartments for this landlord for awhile, and when I told him about the situation, he was completely dumbfounded as to why the landlord would claim that I was responsible for repairing the fridge.

He was nice enough to offer to speak with the landlord on my behalf, but I declined, as I wanted to speak with him (the broker) just to get some sense of what kind of footing I'd be on.

Now that I've done that, it looks as if I'll have to speak to the landlord and find out where his head is.

It's not that i'm doubting what you say, per se--and I really appreciate your input--but, really, it makes no sense to me a tenant would be responsible for a landlord-provided refrigerator, especially without some provision being made in the lease (which there isn't). This is the third place in Northern Jersey that I've rented since 2000, and I've never run into this (though I've never had trouble with a fridge, either), so it just strikes me as strange, y'know?

P.S.: You must have had a rather unusual landlord if he/she agreed to a monthly deduction from your rent for the PSE&G maintenance program. It just seems to go against the "nature of the beast," y'know?
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