Author Topic: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?  (Read 4116 times)

clarkai

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Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« on: September 23, 2016, 08:51:59 AM »
We're currently renting a place with 2 bedrooms and 1.5 bath.

So, last week, my husband took a bath for the first time in the rental we've been living in for about 2 months. When I arrived home, there was water running down the walls of the dining room, which is under the upstairs bathroom. Messaged the landlord, cleaned up the water as we could, took pictures.

She came out, had a plumber come out, etc. Plumber said the damage had been happening for a while; said there was mold in the ceiling above the dining room. Brought in a industrial dehydrator, and told the land lord more work would need to happen. At this point, I felt bed for the landlord, because ouch, that has to cost a lot.

Stuff happened, and now our dining room is empty because there's a hole in the ceiling, they had to pull off the popcorn ceiling because of asbestos, an industrial fan and an industrial dehydrator are in there, and our upstairs bathroom has a toilet sitting in the bath tub, the floor's ripped up, the sink is ripped out, and apparently the toilet had been slowly leaking under the floor for a while. And it smells, and it also has it's own industrial fan and industrial dehydrator going.

Which leaves us with no shower or bath in our rental, and enough fans and dehydrators going that our house is too warm for our comfort (not to mention loud!), and I'm starting to get worried about what our electrical bill will be this month. We're the kind of people who don't turn on the a/c in summer, and keep the house in the mid-sixties in the winter, and I don't know how much money these things are pulling.

Would it be unreasonable to ask the landlord to cover some of the electrical bill? My husband also thinks we should think about asking her for compensation, as we're paying for a place with 1.5 bathrooms, and we only have a toilet and a sink in the downstairs right now. I know stuff happens, but at what point should we ask? Or should we just not?

Marvel2017

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2016, 08:56:17 AM »
Yes, the landlord should AT A MINIMUM pay part of your electric bill just for goodwill...and for this type of inconvenience and repair requirements I would want him to put me up in a hotel or other alternative living arrangements for the duration of repairs.

I have two rental properties...

CareCPA

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2016, 09:01:39 AM »
What does your lease say?
Mine has a clause in for my rentals that states: Resident may continue to live on the livable part of the property and pay a reduced rent as agreed to by resident and landlord until damages are repaired.

A reasonable landlord would be willing to work with you, and yes, should cover part of the utilities. I would not expect a landlord to put you up in a hotel - most leases state if the property is uninhabitable the lease terminates and you must move out.

You do carry renter's insurance, right? That would be your avenue for being put up in a hotel.

Jrr85

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2016, 09:21:42 AM »
We're currently renting a place with 2 bedrooms and 1.5 bath.

So, last week, my husband took a bath for the first time in the rental we've been living in for about 2 months. When I arrived home, there was water running down the walls of the dining room, which is under the upstairs bathroom. Messaged the landlord, cleaned up the water as we could, took pictures.

She came out, had a plumber come out, etc. Plumber said the damage had been happening for a while; said there was mold in the ceiling above the dining room. Brought in a industrial dehydrator, and told the land lord more work would need to happen. At this point, I felt bed for the landlord, because ouch, that has to cost a lot.

Stuff happened, and now our dining room is empty because there's a hole in the ceiling, they had to pull off the popcorn ceiling because of asbestos, an industrial fan and an industrial dehydrator are in there, and our upstairs bathroom has a toilet sitting in the bath tub, the floor's ripped up, the sink is ripped out, and apparently the toilet had been slowly leaking under the floor for a while. And it smells, and it also has it's own industrial fan and industrial dehydrator going.

Which leaves us with no shower or bath in our rental, and enough fans and dehydrators going that our house is too warm for our comfort (not to mention loud!), and I'm starting to get worried about what our electrical bill will be this month. We're the kind of people who don't turn on the a/c in summer, and keep the house in the mid-sixties in the winter, and I don't know how much money these things are pulling.

Would it be unreasonable to ask the landlord to cover some of the electrical bill? My husband also thinks we should think about asking her for compensation, as we're paying for a place with 1.5 bathrooms, and we only have a toilet and a sink in the downstairs right now. I know stuff happens, but at what point should we ask? Or should we just not?

I live in a state with a farily landlord friendly Landlord Tenant Act.  If part of the rental is unusable, the tenant is entitled to a pro-rata reduction in rent.  If it is unlivable (and not having a shower or bath would qualify), then the tenant is not required to pay any rent (but they are required to abandon the property).   

fishnfool

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2016, 11:04:09 AM »
Yes, you should be compensated and if the repairs aren't done in a timely manner you might ask for moving expenses if you decide to vacate.

clarkai

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2016, 01:03:08 PM »
Thanks for the replies and info, everyone!

I hadn't even thought of a motel; my first thought was of sponge baths, and using the nurse's shower at work (I work in a school).

I should have thought to check our rental contract, I will do that first thing when I get home.

Part of me worries that she may try to somehow make us pay for the repairs, but I think that's just my overly-paranoid part, because we've only been here 2 months and this looks like a long term problem.

former player

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2016, 01:51:44 PM »
It looks to me as though your landlord is doing what she can to put things right: acting promptly, getting professionals in and following their advice.  But a house with waste from a leaking toilet and no functioning bath or shower is not fit for human habitation.

You have been in the property only two months, so your landlord doesn't really know you yet, and won't know what your preferred course of action will be fully engaged getting the necessary works sorted.  You will need to be proactive with them.

Check your lease, and your insurance, see what options they give you, and think about what you would prefer from those options.  Then talk to your landlord.  What you need to know:

1.  How long will the repair works take?  How long before the bathroom is functioning and available to you?  How long before the more cosmetic work (dining room ceiling, repainting, etc.) is done?

2.  Is the landlord prepared to pay for the utilities (two industrial fans, two dehydrators)?

3.  Can you leave immediately without penalties (eg no rent from date of flood, deposit returned)?  If you stay, are you getting a break on the rent (eg to cover motel rental until bathroom is functional)?

Once you have these answers, you will be able to decide with your husband what to do.   Do you like the place enough to want to stay, are other rentals immediately available if you leave, and so on.

Given that the plumber has confirmed long-term damage and mold I can't see there is any chance of your being on the hook for the repairs, so don't even think about that again.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2016, 02:01:55 PM »
... they had to pull off the popcorn ceiling because of asbestos,...

Asbestos is a huge problem!

They do not take out asbestos by just pulling down the ceiling. It should be done properly by a licensed company.

You should not be living in this place when this happens,

NoNonsenseLandlord

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2016, 09:07:21 AM »
I would probably gave you something just to keep you happy.  An electric bill would likely not increase by more than $100, so it is a small expense in the scheme of things.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2016, 10:10:38 AM »
If everything is taken care of within 2 weeks, I would ask for a 15% rent reduction and ask the landlord to pay the difference on the electricity bill. If it takes a full month, I would ask for a 30% rent reduction and the difference in the electricity bill.

Not having a shower seems to give you the most leverage. I would not ask for a hotel. Most leases state that if the house is not habitable the tenant can break the lease and move out. However, the landlord is not responsible for finding you other housing or paying for it. 

Lmoot

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 06:19:13 PM »
Can the landlord pay for a cheap 24 hour gym membership so you can take showers there? They should definitely pay the electricity bill and reduce rent until the issue is corrected. But wow, it seems like a lot going on....is there a way to break lease? Mold, asbestos, water damage....oh my.

clarkai

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2016, 06:32:17 PM »
Update time:

Messaged the landlord, she got them to come out the next day to make the shower accessible (still had the 2 industrial fans and dehydrator going in there, during which the inside temperature was 85* downstairs, away from most of the machines). So that's nice. She claimed that she didn't know that they had ripped apart the bathroom, but that seems on the less likely end of things. Maybe I'm just being uncharitable.

The upstairs bathroom sill has nothing but bare plywood floor (and it's our only shower, so that seems like a bad idea to me? But then again, you can clearly see the water damage on the floor, so I guess a few drops from the shower isn't a big deal?), the toilet is sitting right next to the toilet pipe thingie it's supposed to go on, but hey, it doesn't feel like the desert and it doesn't stink like the sewer anymore! Although now I can smell the mold the repair people were talking about.

They removed the fans and dehydrators on Monday (which is really good, because the constant roar and the dry heat were making it miserable to be inside and really hard to sleep), and so far there has been one contractor by to make a bid to do all the repairs. But we have a working toilet down stairs and a shower up stairs, so we're not in awful condition anymore.

At this point, I'm just wondering how long it can take.

Lmoot

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2016, 03:05:18 AM »
Make sure the mold gets tested and that it passes a full inspection for the asbestos as well, after the work is completed. I don't even know how you are allowed to be there with the asbestos. I would really insist on moving into a hotel paid in full or in part (if paid in part, then foregoing rent), by the landlord.

It is totally possible she didn't know the bathroom was ripped out. As both a landlord and having renovated a house, these things happen quickly, and fast and unless you frequently stop by a job site you don't really know what they are doing, and when as they usually go ahead and do things and let you know when it's done/what they had to do. Though it would be na´ve of her to assume water damage, asbestos, and mold wouldn't require something getting ripped out.

Also, you are not being uncharitable. It's an unfortunate situation, yes. But it's not your problem. It's not your property so you don't have a dog in the race, and you shouldn't have to deal without some sort of compensation just b/c the landlord doesn't have the proper funds/preparation to deal with having you placed in a different place.

uppy

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2016, 06:14:55 AM »
I really feel for you. I have been in similar situations several times, the first was for a bed bug infestation (THE WORST -- luckily the exterminators determined by the molting stages that it was pre-existing and not our fault. Landlord covered it but we still had to live in the apt with all of our things in bags for a month...talk about nightmares and psychosomatic symptoms).

The second was when we moved into a basement apartment in a house in Staten Island, and the landlord decided to renovate the unit next to ours and move us into it. We had banging, construction, dudes walking through our sitting area, for a month. We very, very nearly moved out but we were eventually able to leverage the extreme inconvenience of this whole thing for a few perks -- really things we should have had already, such as locks on the doors, etc. In the end we got a slightly smaller, but much nicer apartment for no rent increase, and a private entrance. Still ridiculous but we were poor ;)

There are times when you feel like you are totally trapped and at the landlord's whim, especially when you are very short on funds and have no financial feet to stand on. We got lucky. Of course we got out of that situation as fast as possible and honestly, I might give you the same advice even if things turn out "okay." It sounds like an old building that will continue to have problems -- what's the likelihood the landlord will make this place really decent versus doing the bare minimum to keep you in it, paying rent meanwhile?

Show that you are good tenants, make it worth her while to fix it, but don't bend over backwards. Be prepared to turn tail. It's not worth months and months of suffering if you can afford to move.

clarkai

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2016, 06:35:20 PM »
Updating in part just so that I have a record of what happens. So, hubby asked landlord about a rent decrease because, get this, she isn't able to get a contractor out to fix it until November. At which point they are going to rip out the sub floor in the upstairs bathroom, which currently is water-stained plywood.

She said she'd have to talk to the others about it (apperently, she's one member of a company,  not a solo owner.). I think going more than a month with out full use of two rooms ought to get us something. If not, I'm thinking of asking her to let us go month-to-month so that we can move out at our best time (we're looking at buying a house that will need some repairs before we can move in).

Meanwhile,  hubby takes a shower today (which we've been doing on the regular), and there is again a puddle on the floor of the dining room. So, some how the  plumber didn't fix the problem or, the problem just got worse.

What happens next?

Lmoot

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2016, 10:49:11 PM »
DO NOT ASK FOR MONTH TO MONTH IN LIEU OF COMPENSATION. Threaten to move out. Double check your local laws but pretty sure you would be fully within your right, and they will be faced with getting no rent vs reduced rent as they know they would not find another tenant with it in disrepair. The fact that there are multiple landlords and they still can't get it together makes this whole thing even more pathetic.

marty998

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2016, 01:10:57 AM »
Do you have a local tenancy tribunal you can go to for advice?

I agree with the above poster that said if they are removing asbestos you should under no circumstances be living in the property.

Not joking, the cancer-causing fine dust particles will scar your lungs and you will die a horrible, painful, drawn out death.

Google mesothelioma, and move out as soon as you can.

former player

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2016, 01:32:48 AM »
Your total experience seems to be -

1.  No shower or bath facilities for two weeks, due to a plumbing leak.

2.  Dining room unusable for two weeks due to damage and repair work.

3.  An upstairs toilet unusable for two weeks, with insanitary odours due to long-term leaking.

4.  At least a further month of living with rooms and facilities unavailable.

In the UK, this property would be deemed to be unfit for human habitation due to the lack of bathing facilities over such a long period.

I agree with trying to find a source of advice for your jurisdiction.  There is likely to be some kind of tenant's rights or legal advice organisation that you can tap into, and some kind of contractual or statutory obligation on the landlord to provide livable accommodation in return for rent.  Short of getting proper advice I would suggest a letter to your landlord -

1.  Setting out the issues.
2.  Stating that the failure to remedy the issues and provide you with liveable accommodation within a few days is completely unacceptable and a failure of the landlord's obligation to you as tenants.
3.  Saying that unless the problems are remedied immediately you will be seeking legal advice on your entitlement to require immediate repairs to be carried out and compensation paid for the failure to provide the contracted facilities.

My advice would be to not be too specific about the remedies you are asking for - let the landlord come up with an offer, and then haggle.  And, honestly, start looking around at what your options are for leaving.

mooreprop

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2016, 09:30:21 AM »
I think you are getting much advice from people who are not landlords or who own a couple of properties. From the perspective of a responsible landlord of multiple properties: You are correct to start by communicating pleasantly with your landlord.  It sounds like your landlord is a reasonable person who is in an unanticipated position just like you are.

 Decide whether you would prefer to stay during the renovation at a reduced rent or would rather find a new place to live.  Discuss whatever you decide with your landlord and see if they are okay with this.  For example, say "I do not want to live here while the work is being done and am hoping you can let me out of my lease and refund my full deposit" or "This is very inconvenient and I was hoping that I could pay x% of my rent until the work is completed".  There is no need to threaten your landlord with legal action, etc. as many people are recommending. 

I have worked with many tenants through repairs that I would have preferred to do while the property was vacant.  I appreciate the people who are pleasant and understanding, and I am less nice to people who threaten me when all I am trying to do is get the repair done as quickly as possible and keep my tenants happy. 

Be sure to get whatever you agreed to in writing so you are protected if your landlord's partners get involved later and try to say there was no agreement.  Good luck!

former player

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2016, 09:52:01 AM »
The problem here seems to be that "pleasant communication with the landlord" has resulted in an unliveable house (including no useable bathing facilities, rooms out of bounds, noise and cost from dehumidifiers) for the last two weeks and for a further four weeks at least.   The landlord is being slow in supervising and organising repairs, has apparently made no other offers to mitigate the problems, may have limited autonomy to resolve the issues and is unable to give a timely reply for a request for a rent reduction.

So OP has already spent two weeks going through your proposed strategy and has got nowhere, with a prospect of a further four weeks of getting nowhere.  OP has said "please reduce the rent" and got no answer.   I've suggested that OP needs to up the ante by saying "this needs sorting", and if it's not sorted I'll need to consider my options, including my legal options".  That is not the same as going straight to law, and nor is it a threat of legal action.  But it may concentrate the landlord's mind.  It may give the landlord leverage against the other owners to get money spent and the problem put right.

I do admit I've only got two rental properties.  I try very hard to keep them in good order, to put problems right as soon as possible, and to keep my (currently excellent) tenants happy: it's good business and good stewardship of valuable assets.


Ensign1999

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2016, 10:24:27 AM »
I have to agree with Former Player here.  It sounds like the OP has already tried to be nice and work with the land lord to come to an agreement.  Legal action might be required if the Land Lord has broken laws or the lease.  Like others have said, what the OP needs to do is read the lease to find out what has already been agreed to when they signed it.  If the lease has provisions in it dealing with the property needing major repairs such as being able to break the lease or have reduced rent, then follow those provisions.  Also the OP needs to read through their rental insurance and see what is covered there.  The insurance might give them options such as hotel reimbursement and paying for any personal items that might have been damaged by the water leak.

The legal concerns that pop to my mind have to deal with the OP remaining in the house during the supposed asbestos abatement.  A abatement might only take a single day, but it seems like the OP should have been aware that it was going on and given instructions on when it would be safe for them to return to the house.  If this did not happen and demolition was done on ceilings that contained asbestos while the tenant had access to the property or was living in it, then more than likely laws were broken.  Pulling down a popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos is going to but a lot of dust into the air that will stick around for a while unless it is done right.  I might seek a lawyer to help document this occurrence so if thirty years down the line I came down with lung cancer I would be able to prove the source.

If the house is old enough to have asbestos in it, then it more than likely also has lead in it.  Did the landlord provide a lead disclosure when you moved in?  Lead isn't as bad as asbestos when it comes to turning into dust, but it is still a consideration when doing demolition and has many laws surrounding it.

The recommendation for a lawyer isn't to threaten to bring legal action against the landlord/s (unless it is required), it is to protect the tenant in this case.  The responsibility of a landlord is to provide a safe, legal, place for your tenants to live in exchange for rent.  It doesn't sound like this place is currently safe or legal but the landlord is still collecting full rent.  The responsibility of the tenant is to pay rent and take care of a property in exchange for a safe and legal place to live.  The OP seems to be holding up their end of the agreement, but I would be concerned with the safety of my family and myself if I were in their situation.  Talking to a lawyer to find out if steps should be taken would not be out of the question given that there was/is mold, asbestos, and more than likely lead floating around the unit and they are still living in it.

Lmoot

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2016, 11:17:39 AM »
I agree with the two posters above me. I don't think anyone suggested taking immediate legal action against the landlord. I only own 1 rental property, but there are plenty of slumlords who owns many properties (quality not quantity makes a good landlord IMO). It's good to know the law so that if you do "threaten" to follow through on a reasonable action on ones own (due to non-response, non compromise from the LL), then you know what, if any repercussions there could be and what legal standing you have should the LL try to take legal action against YOU.

Things happen and I understand that, but a good LL will have a contingency plan in place, and proper financial backing. I'm not reading back up all the way, but I don't recall it being a financial issue, but rather the issue of talking to the other LL's, and scheduling the work on the repairs. Whether you are there or not, they have a vested interest in fixing the problems (asset)...so it's not like you are costing them money by being there. Don't feel bad that they have to fix the issue; that's business. Their business. You can empathize at a human level, but you are paying for services, which are not being provided to you in full.

clarkai

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2016, 04:49:10 PM »
Whoa! Lost of responses, let me clear up a few things that I seem to have over looked! It's not as bad as some people have stated, probably due to my typing from a cellphone and being more brief than I otherwise would be.

1. They did asbestos abatement already, it was only in the dining room ceiling, and did only take a day. They did the whole shebang with plastic sheets and everything. No mention of lead, but it wasn't dusty at all by the time I got home. I think they did a good job of it.

2. We were only without a shower for a bit over a day; she made them make it accessible after I asked her about it.

3. We checked the lease, and there isn't anything in it about these circumstances (the place needing repairs). I will definitely be including that in any leases I sign in the future, for sure!

4. The fans and the dehydrators are thankfully gone. There were only in for about half a week, but it sure felt longer!

Current standing:

1 empty dining room because they took out the light when they did the asbestos abatement and there is the hole in the ceiling for accessing the upstairs bathroom's plumbing. Said pluming leaked yesterday, and there are plumbers coming out today to fix it (again. Same plumbing company that 'fixed' it the last time.)

1 downstairs bathroom with toilet and sink, unaffected in all of this.

1 upstairs bathroom, that has had the flooring taken out down to the plywood, has the sink and taps removed (which are also slowly leaking), has the toilet unhooked, but does have a working shower.

Still waiting to hear on rent reduction. Landlord has said yes, but has not decided on the amount.

I do want to keep on good, friendly terms with the landlord, which is working so far. The purpose of this thread was/is to check on the reasonable-ness of asking for a rent decrease and/or help with the electricity bill (which turned out to be 30% higher than normal, which is only a $25 increase). At this point I'm continuing it partially as a record for what is happening and how it's being dealt with, because I have a crap memory, and I'm worried that things will continue to go wrong.

FIKristen

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2016, 05:45:03 PM »
Your landlord's insurance almost definitely has a "loss of use" clause.    If you are forced to move out due to unliveable conditions (such as no bathroom / asbestos remediation), your landlord could be compensated for lost rent.   

When my tenant's apartment flooded, she moved out and I used this "loss of use" insurance money to reimburse her for the days she could not use the apartment.

You and your landlord should look into that as an option.

Or, just move out and quit paying rent.  No reasonable judge would force you to pay the landlord for the remainder of your lease if they haven't provided you with a habitable accommodation.

rothwem

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Re: Can I get a landlord's perspective on this?
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2016, 05:58:13 AM »
Your landlord's insurance almost definitely has a "loss of use" clause.    If you are forced to move out due to unliveable conditions (such as no bathroom / asbestos remediation), your landlord could be compensated for lost rent.   

When my tenant's apartment flooded, she moved out and I used this "loss of use" insurance money to reimburse her for the days she could not use the apartment.

You and your landlord should look into that as an option.

Or, just move out and quit paying rent.  No reasonable judge would force you to pay the landlord for the remainder of your lease if they haven't provided you with a habitable accommodation.

As someone who owns a property, this is exactly what I'd expect.  I would prefer if the tenants would tell me before they left though.  Working on a unit that is vacant is SOOO much easier than when you have to give 24 hours notice and knock, and worry about interrupting dinner and having to clean up the place nearly 100% even if you're not done yet.  Fuck that. 

If I was your landlord, I probably would've asked you leave once I realized that this was a multi-week repair.