Author Topic: Assistance with tenant claims  (Read 1206 times)

Yinzer

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Assistance with tenant claims
« on: May 30, 2018, 12:58:53 PM »
Wondering if anyone can point me toward some legal resources out there. I own a rental property in Pennsylvania and a tenant is asking for a new exterior light to be installed over the rear porch attached to the unit. There has never been a light receptacle or switch there, others have just used the light that spills out from the window next to the door. However, current tenant who has lived there a couple of years at this point claims it is a safety issue and I'm legally required to add a light. There are about 10 steps off the side of the porch.

Trying to dig up some info on if this is a legal landlord/tenant issue that needs addressed ASAP, or merely a property upgrade that I can put toward the bottom of the list as a possible future item. TIA

Dave1442397

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2018, 02:31:46 PM »
Can you find the local building code online? Or if not, just call the township (assuming there's a local authority) and speak to someone about it. Chances are, the light wasn't a requirement when the house was built, so even if a light is required on new construction, you may be grandfathered in and not need one.

If you want to be nice, you could just get some motion-activated stick-on LED lights, like these - https://www.amazon.com/URPOWER-Operated-Wireless-Nightlight-Portable/dp/B074DTSQF7/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1527712262&sr=8-5&keywords=urpower+motion+sensor+lights

tralfamadorian

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2018, 03:01:01 PM »
Ten steps and no light? It's a liability issue regardless of PA law. Just grab some of these:
https://www.amazon.com/URPOWER-LED-Wireless-Waterproof-Activated/dp/B012ZPKNFE

waltworks

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2018, 03:28:04 PM »
Light the stairs. Would you want to walk up stairs (maybe while carrying groceries or something) when it's raining/snowing/slippery in the dark?

Yeah, me neither.

-W

Yinzer

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2018, 07:59:39 AM »
I just ordered the solar powered type in an earlier comment - thank you all so much(!), these should do the trick without having to fish for electrical wiring. Regarding carrying things up the stairs, this isn't the main entrance to the property, just an alternate route to the back yard.

Yinzer

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 01:16:28 PM »
Ten steps and no light? It's a liability issue regardless of PA law. Just grab some of these:
https://www.amazon.com/URPOWER-LED-Wireless-Waterproof-Activated/dp/B012ZPKNFE

These were added the other day and the feedback from the tenant was that they aren't bright enough and are simply decorative, somewhat contrary to the amazon review photos (not stock). Maybe I need to get the larger version.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 02:45:02 PM »
Has there been a few sunny days for the solar batteries to fully charge?

Grogounet

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2018, 01:36:29 AM »
Has there been a few sunny days for the solar batteries to fully charge?

Was about to make the same comment.
There are actually some easy to do:
Solar to Battery
Battery to light

Enough to get you and them out of trouble

Lmoot

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2018, 04:01:27 AM »
Just do it. It might prevent a more serious future claim. I think your tenants did you a favor telling you. Unlighted stairs in which the only light source is dependent on an interior light is asking for trouble.

Car Jack

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2018, 08:02:00 AM »
If an issue like this has you spinning around looking for legal ways to not do it, you should absolutely sell this rental and buy stock.  You are not meant to be a landlord.

The answer to your question is:  "Just install the freaking light".

Kl285528

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2018, 08:08:16 AM »
I was once a young landlord.
Had a tenant that complained about a tub faucet not working properly.
I told him it was working good enough, and I refused to have it worked on.
He called the city, to see if there were any code violations.
Yep, evidently there were.
And they got fixed after I spent about $2000, and dealt with the hassle of being on the city's radar.
I am now an older, wiser landlord.
Small things that serve the tenant's peace of mind, that make them feel good, and that do not cost that much, should be done.
Plus, the tenant will cut you more slack when there is a big inconvenience in the future (HVAC goes out in winter or summer and replacement takes a week)

Jon Bon

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2018, 08:38:51 AM »
I'd like to hear more about this!

What did you get dinged on?

Yeah adding a light is a bit of a pita but any competent landlord should be able to do it for <50 bucks in materials.

Kl285528

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2018, 07:17:57 AM »
Oh, the city inspector decided to go down in the basement of my old duplex and found some other plumbing items and structural items that were "not up to code". Well, no kidding, the structure was built in the 1930's. The property was not unsafe, and the repairs I had to do to the building did not improve the tenant's use or enjoyment of the property. Most of the required repairs were simply unnecessary. Just a tale to warn you that a tenant that is pissed off about a minor item can cause you a world of hurt as a landlord.

Jon Bon

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2018, 07:32:41 AM »
Oh, the city inspector decided to go down in the basement of my old duplex and found some other plumbing items and structural items that were "not up to code". Well, no kidding, the structure was built in the 1930's. The property was not unsafe, and the repairs I had to do to the building did not improve the tenant's use or enjoyment of the property. Most of the required repairs were simply unnecessary. Just a tale to warn you that a tenant that is pissed off about a minor item can cause you a world of hurt as a landlord.

yeah there is big value to doing small things to keeping a tenant happy. I have found fixing little things give you lots of credit for when bigger inconveniences happen.

As for the city inspector, how can they force you to update mechanicals? Is that not ex post facto?


Kl285528

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2018, 08:16:31 AM »
It was a long time ago, so sorry, I don't recall the details. However, getting on the shit list with city inspectors is not the right way to go, regardless of who is right and who is wrong. Therefore, I prefer to (a) respond to minor tenant requests quickly and happily, (b) try to not get in the sights of city inspectors in any way.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2018, 11:57:20 AM »
solar light is about $50.

Yinzer

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2018, 04:28:55 PM »
Thanks for the tough love everyone - that's why I'm here. @Kl285528, Wow, appreciate the story there and something I hadn't thought of. I had someone replace the solar lights and everyone seems to be happy. In hindsight, I should have just tackled this in a similar way to everything else that's been brought up, at the time it seemed like more of a can of worms that would lead to other requests. So be it if that happens, I don't want the potential liability issues moving forward.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Assistance with tenant claims
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2018, 05:27:55 PM »
Thanks for the tough love everyone - that's why I'm here. @Kl285528, Wow, appreciate the story there and something I hadn't thought of. I had someone replace the solar lights and everyone seems to be happy. In hindsight, I should have just tackled this in a similar way to everything else that's been brought up, at the time it seemed like more of a can of worms that would lead to other requests. So be it if that happens, I don't want the potential liability issues moving forward.

What did you replace the initial lights with if you don't mind me asking? Another set of the same? A different brand?