T Nation

Question for Landlords


#1

I'm currently at home on winter break from college and I'm staying at my mother's place during the break. She currently resides in an apartment she has rented out which has switched landlords.

The problem resides with an inoperable toilet it is day 3 and having to resort to using survival tactics for taking a dump (i.e making sure to only go during dusk away from any visible signs of civilization etc...) it is not fun going into some retail establishment with the NY times in hand just to use there bathroom and not purchasing anything.

I have called the landlord on the 1st day the problem was noticed and was told that the plumber wouldn't be available until Friday at 9am. Friday came i.e today 12/31 New Year's Eve and called the landlord again to confirm that plumber was coming was told the plumber lives in NYC and will be commuting.

I reside a little up north from NYC in the orange county area which is about a 1 hour drive. The only reason I can think of for getting a plumber who lives out of area is that the landlord has a family connection with the plumber etc.. where it is little / no cost to the landlord to bring this person in from the city.

I am now planning the Most Likely Course of Action which is to just contact a local plumber
directly. If the landlord's plumber/cousin fails to show up. It is inexcusable to be dumping out in the woods in someone else s backyard.

My question is would calling up the plumber directly since I jumped the landlord's chain of command mean I/ or my mother have to pay out of pocket for the new plumber. Or if it is even reasonable to ask the landlord to hire a local plumber within the area to fix the issue. Versus relying on her personal connections just because the landlord wants to save cost at the expense of my mothers and I inconvenience.


#2

Some landlords are just dicks. I think the only thing is to find the print on the lease that says what the expectations of repairs are agreed to be, and lawyer up. I've no experience as it's never been bad enough for me to have to go legal on them.

Also, I have absolutely no problem going to a retail establishment with the sole intention of dropping heat and possibly clogging their toilet. I've gone into dunkin donuts that have only one bathroom and destroyed that shit. There were many times working construction where there was no bathroom or porta potty around, so I'd wait until lunch time and take a shit at subway or squat in the woods. Desperate times call for desperate shits.


#3

This. The main thing to consider, is if they are shady, once you pay that money out of pocket you are not guaranteed they will play by the rules. Since a decent landlord would have this problem fixed right away, even over the holifays, you MAY be dealing with someone who will force you to take them to court, get a ruling and then chase them around trying to get paid. If you dont have exp. with this, let me say, it can be frustrating. A slumlord will have been through small claims many times and will know that very little can be done to actually force them into following a ruling without more time and money on your part than is worth it. They probably know this.


#4

You would have to comb through the lease for a good answer as to whether or not you can get comped for hiring a contractor to provide a service for the property. Some leases have a provision for that and some do not.

Chances are If the owner has multiple properties he has a management or maintenance company for this type of stuff, hence the delay.

Also, given the location, there may be codes or requirements that must be met. From what I understand NYC has some of the most complex and stringent public health/plumbing codes in the country.


#5

There are SO many variables to this. Mainly, the terms put forth in the lease and the laws of the jurisdiction that you live in. I am a landlord, and it can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. It's a fine line you have walk between being and asshole and staying profitable vs. keeping your tenants happy and doing the "right" thing.

Fortunately, I am handy and do most repairs/preventive maintenance myself and one of my best friends is a plumber. But there have been times when he was not available where I just used a local plumber - it cost more, but I own my properties free and clear so I don't have a cash-flow issue to worry about (no mortgage, just yearly property taxes and insurance).

Your landlord may not be in the same boat and may have a cash-flow issue. Regardless, three days is too fucking long. Definitely a dick move by the landlord.

That said, the cost of 'lawyering up' would probably exceed the cost of a new toilet!

My advice would be to shit in a bucket until it is fixed through the proper channels. Or pay for it yourself if it is that intolerable. But don't expect the landlord to reimburse you and if you pull any shenanigans like deducting it from the rent or whatever with out his WRITTEN agreement, you are opening yourself up to all the nasty parts of his lease...

Good luck!


#6

Good news is that since my mother's apt. is located above a deli the business owner downstairs also started complaining to the landlord.

I assume he rents out the downstairs place from the landlord to run his deli. Anyways being that every time the sink was turned on upstairs i.e at my bathroom. The water was seeping through and dripping through his roof onto his deli floor in conjunction with me trying to fix the toilet with constant flushing. Toilet water smell must not be good for business. Since he promptly arrived at my apt door asking if I told the landlord about the problem and I'm like yea dude 3 days ago.

I guess the deli owner made some moves that prompted the landlord to get someone local and lo and behold the plumbers were here around noon. They did the best they could but they said they will return next week to finish the job something to do with an improperly installed toilet pipes etc...


#7

If it doesn't get fixed, shit in a cheap bucket and leave it outside your LL's front door. Or if he has a business, like a restaurant, put it by the front door just before lunch hour. Let your imagination run wild!! XD


#8

Shady landlords suck. Three days on a toilet issue seems way too long. Maybe this is a message about your landlord: time to help your mom find a new place to live before a more serious problem arises.


#9
  1. Write everything down that has happened

  2. If you talked to landlord what did u say? also write down how landlord would rectify situation.

  3. If possible document it by taking pictures

  4. Look up the New York Landlord Tenant Code. Read it

  5. Report him for violations of said code.

  6. Call a good lawyer.


#10

I own quite a lot of rental property and I can tell you from first hand experience that you may be assuming some things that are not true. Firstly, a good honest contractor that is dependable is more difficult to find than a virgin in a New Orleans Whore house. Your Landlord probably relies on one particular plumber that's why he's from out of your area. Secondly, this time of year it's very difficult to get anything done. You really expected fast service on New Years Eve? Finally, keep calling the LL until you get to speak to him directly, then let him know your feelings. Keep it cool and don't attack him. You'll get what you want, be patient. He no more wants a problem with you, or your Mom than you do with him.

Good luck!

Zeb


#11

Update it is Day 6. So far the Landlord's plumber has only been to my mother's apartment once that was New Years Eve. He was unable to finish the job stating he was missing parts for the pipes/ toilet etc... and said he would return within a day or 2 to finish the job. He made an excuse about stores being closed yesterday Sunday which is b.s because home depot and Lowes are definitely open on Sundays.

Then today Monday he made another excuse about his car breaking down. I called up the landlord and told him the deal with his unreliable plumber. I asked him if possible can he find someone else more reliable to finish the job. He stated that since he already paid the plumber that he is not going to hire someone else and told me that me and my mother have to make do until the plumber arrives he says that the plumber should be there tomorrow morning.

Shit I would fix the thing myself , after looking up the problem online since water is seeping from the base of toilet. After every flush the problem lies with the toilet wax ring. The toilet it self was also clogged up ...but that problem I resolved myself.

I would attempt to purchase and install a new wax ring but don't have the tools necessary to remove the different nuts and such for removing toilet and closing off water supply. But since the property is owned by the landlord I figured he should of taken care of the problem by hiring a plumber that knows what he is doing. And I don't want to take responsibility for fixing the toilet and risk damaging something in the process.

Also my mother's lease is just pretty slim it just talks about when the rent is due ..and being responsible for any damages that are done to the apartment.