Author Topic: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?  (Read 4058 times)

bradleylsmith

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Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« on: January 03, 2015, 09:50:08 AM »
I have a two bedroom, one bath townhouse we are renting from an apartment complex. It's a pretty old unit, from the 1940s or so and we moved here a few days ago.

The upstairs has no ventilation from the main furnace and at night it would get really cold upstairs except they installed an electric heater in the bathroom. It's installed in the wall about a foot off the floor and isn't easily removable (screws and a metal plate hold it in place, and whatever else is behind that.)

The problem with this that I see are:

1. it's in the bathroom and it's an electric heater where it can get wet.
2. I have two kids, 1 and 3 years old. They can easily just shove crap in the slots of it when we're not looking, or whatever else. Turning it on and off is in their reach and they already do that.
3. this is the main source of heat for the upstairs and needs to be on at night here.

is this considered a major problem legally? What steps should I take?

trailrated

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 10:41:42 AM »
is this considered a major problem legally? What steps should I take?

I don't mean to be an ass, but why didn't you notice this before you moved in? Moving into a place then taking legal action against the landlord right away because you didn't do you due diligence seems a little extreme.

On a more constructive note, maybe you could unhook the power to that heater (and leave it there if it is that hard to remove) and get another heating source for the kids room. That way you could get one that is safer, and you would not have to worry about your kids putting things into the slots of the now unhooked heater.

Sorry you have to deal with this issue, I can understand how it would be frustrating with a 1 and a half year old of my own.

bradleylsmith

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2015, 10:59:32 AM »
Definitely do not plan or want to take legal action (I've never had to before). However, if the apartment complex is unwilling to take care of the problem then if it is a legal matter I believe you can withhold rent till they fix it as a basic tenant right to be safe.

I will have them come and unplug it to start with, just thinking about the now cold upstairs but at least that's safer.

surfhb

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2015, 11:13:26 AM »
You'll need to consult a lawyer and find out if it's to code.   If it is then it's not the landlords responsibility for the safety of the kids.   

Don't start thinking of withholding rent till you have a good idea of your local codes.   

Personally I'd buy another heater you feel is safer or move.    The money and headaches involved with your plan would be too much for me.    But that's just me :)

RH

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2015, 11:14:37 AM »
Have the landlord disconnect the heater and then purchase one for $50 that plugs into an outlet in another room. Seems simple to me.

mginwa

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2015, 11:35:26 AM »
I used to live in an apartment that had one of those bathroom heaters. I very much doubt it is intended to provide all the upstairs heat, just to be a heater for the bathroom for short periods of time--I was very wary of the one I had and rarely used it. In mine and a lot of the apartments and houses built from the 20's through the 40's in SoCal, there is just one gas wall heater that is meant to heat the whole unit. I had to just leave the doors open to let the heat spread. So I'm guessing your downstairs heat is probably meant to sufficiently heat the whole apartment. If it isn't capable of doing that, you probably do have some kind of code issue that the landlord must remedy. It may be as simple as fixing the existing downstairs heater to make it more powerful, but you might also need to look into space heaters on your own. Look up your state's rental code online, and then go talk to the landlord once you know what your rights are. Good luck!

bradleylsmith

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2015, 11:38:17 AM »
okay great advice thanks for all the help everyone I'll let you know how it goes. First steps are just to get the thing unplugged and we'll see how bad it is from there.

Thanks

ruthiegirl

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2015, 11:39:49 AM »
What you are describing sounds normal to me.  I have often seen those wall mounted heaters in bathrooms.  I have one in my house now.  The heaters are much safer in the wall and up off the floor where splashed bathwater or a toilet overflow could cause a serious problem. 

I have lived with young children and these heaters and yes, kids can be a pain and shove stuff in there.  I have personally removed a lot of Lego pieces from one before.  Thankfully, my kids stopped this behavior quickly, but it was a hassle until they did. 

Do you have access to the fuse box?  If it was me, I would turn off the heater at the fuse and buy one of those stand heaters.  Something like this: 

http://www.amazon.com/DeLonghi-EW7707CM-Safeheat-ComforTemp-Oil-Filled/dp/B000TGDGLU

Greg

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2015, 09:42:50 AM »
I will be the dissenter here and let you know the problem is your kids, not the heater.  Either watch them when they're in there, or close the door.

That said, the advise to use a plug-in heater could be against your lease agreement, you should check.  In many places plug-in heaters are considered a fire hazard. Or not safe for toddlers, so you're back to square one.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2015, 10:01:02 AM »
We have radiators, and "Hot" is one of our one-year-old's first words.

mm1970

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Re: Unsafe Apartment for young kids, what to do about it?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2015, 11:01:31 AM »
our house had one when we bought it.  The inspector turned it on and it started smoking, so we tore it out.  But it's our house.

It's not meant to heat the whole upstairs.  What we did when our kids were that age (heck our 2 year old still is) - we close the bathroom door so that he cannot get in.  Install a higher lock if you have to.

And find another way to heat the upstairs.  (Electric blankets?  Electric space heaters?)