Day 8 with no electricity: Renter's rights?

Right now, it’s 19 degrees outside, with a 12mph wind, gusting to 25. Windchill is around 0. I have a propane heater in the cellar, and the inside temp is over 32 degrees now. All the pipes are frozen, so the furnace is coming on, then shutting down because it can’t circulate any water to the radiators. The toilet is frozen solid, and no water will flow from any faucets. At this rate, it may be spring before this place thaws out.

I’m sure there are some of you who would continue to pay rent under these conditions.

Does it suck any more than paying rent on a property which is now uninhabitable for reasons beyond your control? No questions it sucks for somebody, I just don’t see the sympathy for the landlord.

No. Why would that mitigate the landlords responsibility to provide a habitable property?

You’re renting from God? How’d you manage that? Must be a hell of a waiting list.

Heavens no, have you ever tried to serve a subpoena on the big Guy?

You’re right, and I’m wrong. The landlord has a duty to make repairs in a “reasonable” amount of time, and a few days is pretty reasonable for a major appliance repair. Longer than a few days, and you could withhold rent.

Yeah, me, for one. Then again, I also don’t demand compensation when weather delays my flights, or try to sue mother nature when a tree falls on my car.

There do exist things that are beyond your landlord’s control.

Unless your landlord is employed by the electric company, and is the one making the decisions on which areas to focus on, I see quite a bit of sympathy for the him. Don’t get me wrong, I see a lot of sympathy for you, too. But someone’s gotta pay the bill, and honestly, I can’t understand why you’d try to shift the responsibility of that to the landlord, when he hasn’t done anything wrong.

You may be legally entitled to, and a judge may rule in your favor on that. I just can’t imagine why you would want to do that, rather than carry renter’s insurance for situations like this.

The landlord is providing a habitable property to the best of his ability, from the info you’ve given here.

I’ve never had a renter’s insurance policy that covered anything but the replacement costs of my possessions in the apartment - certainly not to repair the landlord’s property or pay for me to live elsewhere because the apartment was unlivable.

Fear Itself, since you asked what people think - I’d say that for the initial time without power, you wouldn’t have much of a case, since the removal of power and it’s repair was completely outside the control of the landlord. Now that the power is back on and the apartment is still unlivable, I’d say you have a good case, since it will be up to the landlord to return the property to a livable condition.

Does renter’s insurance cover power failure?

Renters ($250 for loss of frozen or refrigerated goods)

See this is what I do not understand. I don’t think the landlord has done anything wrong, and I don’t see my request for a credit against my rent as any kind of punishment for doing anything wrong.

But it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable property. That is one good reason for renting instead of buying; I am willing to pay someone else good money (without building any equity) to assume that risk. If they don’t want to assume that risk, they should not be in the business of renting out property. I don’t see why that risk suddenly reverts to the tenant just because the habitability is compromised by natural forces. I paid him to assume that risk.

I am getting the distinct impression some posters see tenants as convenient slobs who will pay the mortgage, but if they actually insist that the property owner keep their part of the bargain, then they are seen as unreasonable and evil, and should just sign the check and shut the fuck up. In that regard, I am a landlord’s worst nightmare.

I concur. ianal

But yes, if there is a covered loss (such as a fire) then my policy does cover a modest amount of temp living expense, iirc. I just called my agent, it covers food meals & lodging for up to two years- for a covered loss.

So what did your attorney say?

Notify the landlord in writing that the property is uninhabitable, and ask for a credit on the rent. I have not heard back on that yet.

What is the expectation from the landlord now, to make things inhabitable now that the power is back? Rent heaters to unfreeze your pipes? Or you will take care of it and deduct the cost from your rent?

Did your lawyer say the law is on your side? Or did he just suggest you might get some credit just for asking for it? If he said the law is on your side can you give us the details?

The landlord told me to call the furnace company (who also supplies my oil) and ask them what to do. They said the house was frozen, and I needed a plumber to thaw out the house. I called one that the landlord recommended, but he didn’t have the device to thaw a house, which is apparently a jet engine from a 747 that they aim in an open door. But my understanding of plumbing and heating is rather limited, so I could be wrong.

Anyway, I called the landlord back and asked him to find a plumber and make an appointment to thaw the house. He said someone would be there tomorrow at 11:00am (but he said it was Roto-Rooter, so we"ll see how much good that does), so it’s another night on my sister in laws couch. I’m dreading when the water does come back on, because there is a good chance some of the pipes are broken and further repairs will be necessary.

He said I had a case, but I will have to talk to him again for the details.

I am at a loss.

A post is made asking for advice. When advice is given, it is dismissed because it doesn,t agree with the poster’s stance.
John Steinbeck: “No one wants advice, only collaboration.”

You advice is contrary to my lawyer’s advice.

Here is the latest:

A water pipe just now burst under the dishwasher, and the kitchen flooded, sending a torrent of water down through the floor and out through the electrical fixtures in the ceiling of the garage below. I managed to turn off the water, but when I called the landlord, he said “I don’t know what to do tonight, I will see if I can find somebody”.

I can only assume this will also happen when the second floor bathroom thaws out, so this place is not going to be livable for the foreseeable future. There were 300,000 people with no power, and I am sure some of them have broken pipes too. Getting a plumber to do the kind of work this place needs could be weeks before one is available.

I am not paying rent until this is fixed. If that means the landlord misses his mortgage payment, it’s no skin off of my nose. He should have done something to prevent the pipes from freezing while the power was out.

It seems like you’re being intentionally antagonistic towards this man.

If I were him, I’d forgive the rent, kick you out on your ass, and let you find another place to rent alongside the thousands of other people now faced with the same problem while their homes are being repaired.

I have been a tenant who was forced to move out of an uninhabitable apartment that was allowed to become rat, slug and mold infested after a plumbing leak was ignored for months, so I do get your frustration. I’m also currently a landlord for a multi-unit dwelling. So while I’m not a lawyer, and while I don’t live in your state, I do have some experience in this matter – from both sides.

At this point, since you’re currently being advised by an attorney, I won’t offer any further advice other than to inquire as to whether you have asked your landlord, nicely, whether he would consider abating your rent for a portion of time you’ve been without a habitable unit. We have done that with our tenants on more than one occasion, when repairs weren’t the tenant’s responsibility, but took longer than a few days for reasons beyond our control.

And since you are getting the answers to your questions from a legal professional in this area, I’m not sure what purpose keeping this thread open serves. All people are going to do is give you their opinions, which you will counter because they differ either from what your attorney said, or what you personally believe the case should be. Seems to me that makes it no longer a “General Question”, but an IMHO, so you might consider asking a mod to close it for you.

Good luck, I hope you get it all worked out.