Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Done

We've had issues with our landlords since we moved in to this place. At first they were tolerable, though gross and annoying. Upon moving in, we discovered fleas, 2 mice living in the kitchen, and chiggers in the back yard. Easy enough to take care of ourselves, but what a pain. Then, the concrete steps outside crumbled last winter. They were cracked when we moved in and last year's winter was blanketed in ice. They claimed it was our fault for throwing down salt, and maybe it was. But no one warned us not to use salt or told us the concrete steps were unfinished and unsealed.

November 1st, after several verbal complaints when we paid rent, I went ahead and outlined many of our complaints in a letter and mailed it to the landlords via certified mail. Two of the issues involved water. One was a leak in the ceiling we'd been complaining about for well over a year. It would only drip once or twice with each rain, but the ceiling looked horrible and I feared mold growth. They assured me that with winter coming, I wouldn't have mold issues. I was livid at that response and insisted they do something. Several weeks later the landlord crawled around in the attic with a caulk gun and swears the problem is solved and there's no sign of mold up there. *sigh*

Another major issue was that every time we turn on the shower, it drips water (quite a bit) into the basement and right on top of my new washing machine. Not only was I worried about my washing machine shorting out, but again of mold.

I've been sick alllllll winter. I just can't seem to get well. I'm catching every cold, every sniffle, every cough, and even strep throat a couple weeks ago. Baby Yarnworks has had croup three times this winter and countless colds. Big Sister has had the sniffles most of the winter and last night coughed so much she threw up. Her tonsils are absolutely enormous.

Yesterday, three and a half months after the certified letter and after a reminder note in January's rent payment, they FINALLY sent a plumber out to fix the shower. It turns out that whoever did the plumbing never sealed the pipes, they just put them together and wastewater from the shower has been leaking.

I pointed out a spot in the floor that looked like water damage and wanted to confirm with the plumber that it was from the same issue, not from the sink or toilet. Nope, not from the shower. Definitely from the toilet. He says it's not even attached to the floor and that if anyone sits on it just right, it's going to make a huge mess. And all my concerns about mold? Confirmed. At least that's it's in our home...who knows how much of an impact it's having on our health.

I asked the plumber to call the landlord back and request permission to repair the toilet as well and he refused! He said the landlord already sounded upset about the shower repairs he had to do and wouldn't call him back. So this is what I'm left with...

And yes, that's carpet along the baseboard. Lovely, no?
So, I'm done. Absolutely done. I could complain about this repair and wait 3-18 months for them to take care of it, but I can't. Not only do I not have the energy, but I have these two sweet babies to think about. They need to get out of this house as fast as humanly possible.

I'm open to any and all advice guys. I'm not exactly sure how to proceed. But I definitely think we're moving as soon as I can find a new place.


AuntieAnn said...

Ick, that's horrible. Is your lease month-to-month or for a year, or what? If month-to-month, you can terminate on one month's notice. If longer, you will need to do even more documentation, including health effects, etc., and maybe call a local tenants' union or similar for advice. Despite the awful conditions, don't take breaking your lease lightly, as it can be expensive if the landlord decides to pursue it.

SD Sue said...

That is disgusting! You should not be treated that way! Especially since your husband is protecting your landlord's freedom. If you still live in South Dakota there is a law that addresses those repair issues. Here is the SD Codified Law that says your landlord must keep your home in repair and the second law that says what you can do:

43-32-8. Residential lessor to keep premises in repair--Disrepair caused by lessee-- Agreements for repairs in lieu of rent--Liability to third persons unaffected. In every hiring of residential premises, whether in writing or parol, the lessor shall keep the premises and all common areas in reasonable repair and fit for human habitation and in good and safe working order during the term of the lease except when the disrepair has been caused by the negligent, willful or malicious conduct of the lessee or a person under his direction or control. The lessor shall maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, or heating systems of the premises, except when the disrepair has been caused by the negligent, willful or malicious conduct of the lessee or a person under his direction or control.

The parties to a lease or hiring of residential premises may not waive or modify the requirements imposed by this section; however, the lessor may agree with the lessee that the lessee shall perform specified repairs or maintenance in lieu of rent.

The provisions of this section shall be in addition to any covenants or conditions imposed by law or ordinance or by the terms of the lease. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter the liability of the lessor or lessee of residential premises for injury to third parties.

Source: CivC 1877, § 1114; CL 1887, § 3737; RCivC 1903, § 1433; RC

43-32-9. Failure of lessor to repair premises--Lessee's remedies. If within a reasonable time after notice to the lessor of conditions requiring repair to make the premises fit for human habitation and to place the same in good and safe working order which the lessor ought to repair he neglects to do so, the lessee may repair the same himself and deduct the expense of such repairs from the rent, or otherwise recover it from the lessor; or the lessee may vacate the premises, in which case he shall be discharged from additional charges of rent or performance of other conditions.

If the cost of necessary repairs exceeds one month's rent, after written notice stating the specific reason for the withholding, the lessee may withhold payment of rent and immediately deposit it in a separate bank or savings and loan account, written evidence of such action to be provided to the lessor upon deposit, maintained only for the purpose of making repairs until such time as the lessor makes the repairs, at which time the lessee shall release the deposit to the lessor or until sufficient money is accumulated in the account for the lessee to cause the repairs to be made and paid for.

Source: CivC 1877, § 1115; CL 1887, § 3738; RCivC 1903, § 1434; RC 1919, § 1058; SDC 1939, § 38.0410; SL 1976, ch 267, § 5.

If sharing this with your landlord does not improve things, I would contact the SD Housing Development Dept http://www.sdhda.org/

Good luck to you.

Angeluna said...

I'm glad you got some good advice here. That is disgusting. And quite possibly making you sick. Document everything. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Get photos of everything with dates...also, doctor visits...ask the doctor if the children could be getting sick because of mold spores...(I know it does cause illness)...

I once had a run in with a landlord...wrote him a list of what was wrong and needed repaired, also I told him that copies of the letter and photos were also being sent to every television station and newspaper office in addition to the district attorney for the city, county and state...needless to say he got scared and was out the next day.

You need to make sure the little ones are healthy.

Too bad that plumber wasn't good or ethical.

Thank your husband for his service. My husband is a Vietnam Vet.