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Old 03-07-2009, 03:37 AM
1 posts, read 4,039 times
Reputation: 10



Move into an apartment with lease starting February 1, 2009. Lease states that rent is 500 and includes all utilities: electric (heat & hot water), water, sewage, trash removal, cable, and internet. Was informed that cable and internet was set up before I moved in.

Soon discover that cable and internet are not set up, but will be by beginning of next week.

A day later, snow storm and power outage for 1 1/2 days.

Power reactivated for one day.

Suddenly several things in apartment are not working. Ceiling lights, central heat, stove, washer/dryer, fridge, and hot water. All that is working in way of electricity are things running off of outlets.

Call landlord immediately, he tells me he will send one of his contractors next day, and provides me (and other tenants) with space heaters.

When not fixed the next day, I call him again, contractor didn't come.

Contractor arrives, leaves shortly thereafter. No response from landlord for 2 days.

Day after that he tells me that he can't fix the problem, because it is the Phase 1 power supply to the building, and must be fixed by PECO. Claims he reported problem to PECO.

Call him the next day and he gives me the number to PECO. I call them, discover I need his billing address, billing phone number (he has a lot of numbers), and account number. Retrieve info from him, told details of the account reports.

Speak to PECO employee over the phone: Apparently a report has been made, but nobody has been dispatched to the property. I ask what I need to do to have this done. Simply state that the situation is a potential emergency, requires immediate attention, and request one. I do so, noting the fact the landlord did not take this extra step, and that the only report/request was made 2 days before.

After being told for 2 days that somebody was "Just dispatched and will be there within a couple of hours." I eventually being to call PECO aggressively. 3 days after initial call, problem is fixed.

Internet is installed February 13, over a week after promised.

Cable is installed in my room February 24.

March 1: hot water stops working on 2nd floor including kitchen and a roommate's bathroom. I call the landlord to let him know about the problem and ask about instructions for rent check. Upon hearing another problem with the place, he abruptly brushes me off and says he will call me back in a couple of days. No time to tell me what to do with the rent check.

The Phone Call/Disagreement

March 6: I discover a voicemail from landlord demanding my rent the next day, in person, at his house, across town. I have had midterms for the last 3 days, and don't have a checkbook. I have to use cashier's check, and hesitated in purchasing it until I was given instructions, as not to have $500 bucks tied up in a single piece of paper floating around my room. His tone is accusatory and impatient. He states that according to my lease I have 5 days after the 1st to pay, and I agreed to vacate the property immediately if I can't as per the lease. But, he doesn't want to do any of that, since he is "such a nice guy".

I look over my lease and discover no such 5 day clause exists. And I know enough to know how ineffectual this vacate property clause is from an eviction standpoint, which time consuming and costly for him.

I am not aware of my specific legal rights, but I know basic things. The landlord MUST provide me with heat and electric, even if he isn't paying. He is not liable for the outage, but he did not exhaust all resources to correct this problem. He made on phone call and made no follow up. Payment for utilities is implied as compiled in the rent. The fact that these services (both mandatory and unnecessary) are listed in the lease seems to specify that I am receiving these services. By not providing me with services, I think he might be violating the lease in a way that has immediate consequences (I put rent check in escrow or something) as opposed to the months it might take him to evict me, for being 5 days late on rent, without reminder or instructions.

I can understand how my negligence on the rent is a major annoyance, but I ignored huge oversight like him (the electric account holder) not putting forth effort to make my (and roommates) conditions livable. As far as the cable and internet, this is unimportant, apart from the fact that I was lied to about their status when I moved in, and then given different dates for their installment.

I call him and tell him that missing the rent was an act of forgetfulness (this is the first lease in my name without a cosigner) but that I am offended by his treatment of the situation. I forgave a lot of shortcomings upon moving in and extended him a lot of understanding because he has about a dozen properties and 50 tenants. I asked him how can remember that my rent is late in the next half hour, but not my name.

I politely summarize all the things that happened over the last month, without discussing the lease or the legal part of it. I tell him that I don't want unnecessary complications.

He systematically denies my account of everything, even though he was not present in the house when this was occurring, and can't even remember my name.
Has no recollection of giving me account information and calling PECO, or calling him constantly before that. Claims that if the power was out for such time frame, I must not have told him or else he would have had it fixed within 24. Doesn't seem to remember that PECO has to fix it.
He says that he was supplying me "electricity" nominally, and that the space heaters provided exempt him from being responsible for an uncomfortable situation. He says that I had internet the entire time, and have no reason to complain. FYI I had been borrowing the nearest linksys, which was unreliable, slow, and not a substitute for the network we were promised.

He says that cable was set up in other tenants room (but not the common room), so cable was being provided, even if I didn't have the convenience of it in my room initially.
1. Rooms have individual locks, bathrooms, and leases.
2. I lease my room, only, I don't share a lease with roommates. Shouldn't I get cable in my room?

He denies remembering my phone call days earlier, telling him about the hot water not working. And admonishes me for not calling him for instructions on how to pay rent. Ignoring that:
1. I attempted to do this
2. To expect a tenant to pursue her landlord on multiple occasions in order to have the opportunity to pay him money is contrary to human nature, and common sense.

He also reminds me that he accepted my pet cat without a deposit. As if to make me feel guilty, or scare me into thinking I'll have to pay one now.

I get assertive with him and tell him that I want us to have a decent working relationship, but if he wants to regain my trust, he should extend me some sort of fiscal compensation taken out of the rent. I tell him that it's based on principle, and that this is better solved voluntarily between the two of us. I alluded to the lease and its conditions, but having no interest in pursuing it further. I merely want him to choose the right thing to do. We agree to take $100 bucks off the rent.


I am not certain of my exact legal rights in this situation. It is resolved, but I wonder if I was correct in my interpretation of the lease. I also want to know these rights because there is no relying on this man, and I want to be prepared with concrete facts if he attempts to detract the agreement, or shirk his responsibilities again.

For example, if he claims that I paid him less than rent and denies making the agreement, what recourse to I have?

Nothing on the lease is stated about the cat, and his knowledge of the cat was verbal contract. Can he change his mind and require me to pay a deposit? Get rid of the cat?

Basically, did I do the right thing? What more can I do? What should I look out for? What information might I want to gather (like PECO, cable, whatever) if possible in order to protect myself?

Last edited by hindsight2040; 03-07-2009 at 04:09 AM..
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Old 03-07-2009, 10:04 PM
194 posts, read 560,874 times
Reputation: 70
Not to be rude - really - but if you're really expecting people to reply, it's probably not a great idea to put such a long post. Most people don't have the time to read it.
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Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

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