Day 8 with no electricity: Renter's rights?

The easy way to use an emergency generator (that can produce 220v and a sufficient number of electrons) is to “backfeed” the house electrical system.

Basically, this involves opening the main breaker (so the generator isn’t trying to feed the whole neighborhood and won’t be zapped when power is restored), then running the correct cable from the generator to a 220v outlet. It will be necessary to strip load from the system, so you’re only powering essential items and the total load stays within the generator’s capacity.

I hope I don’t need to add that this is fraught with complications and should not be undertaken lightly or without competent help.

Did you try calling an electrician who might offer a solution?

I am not a lawyer but the way I see it is that the owner, in consideration for an agreed amount of rent money, allows you the possession, use and enjoyment of the premises such as he would would have that same possession, use and enjoyment. It seems to me it is his responsibility to maintain the premises in good conditions so you can have proper use and enjoyment.

It seems to me he has not done or caused anything in detriment of said possession, use and enjoyment so he can hardly be blamed. It does not seem to me reasonable to expect him to guarantee no power outages nor do I think it would be in the lease. If he were living there he would have suffered the same inconvenience and you have just taken over from him. It is not his responsibility to deliver electric power to the premises and a reasonable person would find that the loss of power due to bad weather is something to be expected. If you had a person who required uninterrupted power due to medical equipment you would certainly have a backup generator and not expect the owner to carry that responsibility. I do not think the owner has any responsibility or obligation here because he never guaranteed there would not be any power outages and such a power outage is not totally unexpected anyway.

You could have chosen to try to find a way of resolving the problem by calling someone who could help, or you could choose to just move somewhere else temporarily but that was your decision, not the owner’s.

I can understand all your objections that you don’t know how to hook up a generator, that you couldn’t find the yellow pages, that the phone wasn’t working, that the electrician was too busy, that you didn’t have the money, etc. but in the end I think it is your problem, not somebody else’s problem.

That is just my personal opinion and what I would expect from the law but it could well be that the law is on your side. For that the only really valid answer is that you consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction or, at least, go to a legal advice website. I do not think this is really a good place to seek legal advice.

I work in rental property management, and this questions comes up. In NJ it is considered “an act of God” and not the landlord’s legal liability. If someone had cut the wire to the house, we would have three days to fix it. But since the landlord had no way to fix the problem, it’s not their fault.

Yes. Usual disclaimer: IANAL

Now, if the landlord takes weeks and weeks to remove said tree when everyone in the neighborhood has had debris removed already, THEN you might have a case, but the landlord is not responsible for either the weather or the utility companies.

I mean, really - a homeowner doesn’t get out of paying the mortgage even if a home is destroyed (although mortgage insurance might cover the note, it’s still the case the loan is being repaid). What makes you think you’d be able to forego rent for a few days due to a bad storm?

If the landlord fails to make repairs you might have a case to get out of the lease, but you still have to give the owner a chance to fix things. Even then, that applies to what the owner is responsible for, and the weather is not one of those things.

There’s also the kicker that in many cases renters do NOT have access to the main breakers. It can be much more difficult for a renter to hook up a generator than a home owner due to issues of access, in some cases completely impossible.

Are you seriously arguing an equivalency of rights and responsibilities between someone who owns his home, and someone who is renting? Really?!

Oh, just give it up already. Other people’s bad arguments don’t make your bad argument valid.

Seriously, you should speak to someone who practices landlord tenant law in New Hampshire. This kind of thing is rather state specific and the law of New Hampshire may be very different from the law in the jurisdiction where other Dopers are posting.

Dude, you asked “Are we obligated to pay rent for an uninhabitable property?” not “Can someone back up my belief that I don’t owe money for these 8 days?”

I think you’ve gotten the best answers you’ll get unless you really want to speak to an attorney.

Color me skeptical about the part in bold. Under certain rare circumstances, perhaps, but in general I’m not seeing it.

I live on the border of the affected area (didn’t lose my power) but I can tell you that at a Home Depot there were a couple dozen people standing in line waiting for the 3 or 4 generators that came in.

With over 1.2 million people (NE + NY) without power, “rent or buy a generator” was not a very feasible solution for most people.

In San Jose, it’s possible. It depends on how much notice the Landlord has, and etc. If it takes an unreasonable period of time, then yes the tenant is entitled to some discounts, etc.

That is what insurance is for, your out of pocket expences.

For most people the generator is a bad Idea. It has been on the news about a family that had their power turned off. They got a generator put it in the basement. Whole family sick with CO posioning.

If you do not understand electricity do not hook up a generator. Do not make a suside cord, people have died that way.

I would not want one of my tenants opening up the main panel of my building. In fact I think if I found out they had changed any wiring I would ask them to move.

If I had a long term power outage I would discuss with the property manager some type of credit. If a tenant came in demanding it I would doubt that I would give it.

Now I live in Calif where it is propper to steal from landlords so if I owned property here I probably would have to give the full credit.

There are reports of price gouging with generators going for 3x list price. Also, many reports of generators being stolen right out of yards. Adversity brings out the best in people.

This is Hurricane Katrina all over again.

When Katrina hit Louisiana, we were out of power for 2-4 weeks (in non-flooded areas where the rental property was inhabitable after the power came back on).

FEMA helped out the people who didn’t have renter’s insurance to cover that expense. The tenant had to get an affidavit from the landlord stating how much the rent was and then FEMA gave the tenant a check to cover the rent. (FEMA continued to provide rental assistance for 12-18 months after Katrina, which led to all sorts of fraud since there was no shortage of work for any able-bodied person after the hurricane.)

Anyway, my suggestion is that the OP contact FEMA and see if they’re providing any kind of assistance

Clearly, this would require the cooperation of the landlord.

Actually, I have had several leases that specifically banned fire based heaters [either the kerosene heater or the propane cylinder based camp heaters.] Hell, one place even banned anything but electric grills.

This is the second legal question I’ve answered today, and I want to warn you that although I have a law degree I haven’t passed the bar and didn’t study in your state.

What you want to know is if you have a case against your landlord for the power failing. Unfortunately you don’t. What you think you have is a case of constructive eviction, which is conduct or neglect by the landlord which violates the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment and renders the land inhabitable. This takes a material breach by the landlord NOT the power companies, which is what actually happened.

If there was neglect by the landlord which rendered your condo uninhabitable, you may have a case for not paying rent. But as it stands you are still obligated to your promise under the tenant agreement to pay the rent.

Most of those don’t consider an emergency like this. True, the tenant couldn’t go back vs his landlord for no power, but attempting to evict someone for using a propane heater during a power outage would be sily.