Register
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22
  1. #1
    ljp5000 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    3

    Angry Landlord Trying to Justify NO Hot Water on Weekends

    Hi All,

    My boyfriend and I live above one of your favorite South Philly brunch spots. We've been there about 3 months now but we travel a lot and haven't been home many weekends.

    We've had some strange inconsistencies with our hot water during the week and recently discovered that we don't have hot water at all during the day on Saturday & Sunday. We spoke to our neighbors who said the landlord and his agent eventually admitted to them that the hot water heaters for our apartments are shared with the restaurant below. I complained to the landlords agent without mentioning the conversation I had with our neighbors. She responded to me with the following voicemail:

    "There is one hot water tank for the entire building. And the tenants do not pay for the hot water, the owner does. And on Friday Saturday and Sunday especially around 3 to 5, the restaurant uses most of the hot water. So its best not to shower around that time."

    This problem doesn't start at 3pm. It starts at 10am. There was NO mention of this when we looked at the apartment. There is no mention of this in our lease. And they don't use most of the hot water. They use all of it. I'm actually concerned that they're washing dishes with cold water.

    I spoke to her after the voicemail and explained that this was not something we agreed to, and that after my football games and long runs on the weekends I can not be expected to avoid showering or boil my own hot water to shower. I pay my rent on time and in full. This is unreasonable.

    I've read most sites that say the hot water is considered a requirement for a habitable apartment. I just want to know what kind of language I can use and what rights I have to terminate the lease (which I'd prefer not to have to do because moving sucks) or withhold rent (which sounds like a bad idea based on other posts.) We're stuck in this thing until the end of June right now but I think omitting that kind of information seems like it could be cause for terminating the lease early.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! I play in a winter football league and I look forward to a hot shower to get feeling back in my fingers!

  2. #2
    ArcticSplash's Avatar
    ArcticSplash is offline Dixie Normus
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Couch Surfing in Kensington
    Posts
    11,737

    Default

    Edit this letter, print it out and MAIL IT CERTIFIED MAIL to your landlord. Do not mail this with just a regular stamp, you must send it certified. I strongly suggest you start keeping all materials (lease, copies of checks, letters/notices, etc) related to your apartment in a file somewhere because you'll need it.


    Most landlords when they get a letter like this one (below) will realize the gig is up and will proceed to fix.


    --------------


    Ms. Tenant
    1234 Market St
    Phila, PA 19000

    Mr. Landlord
    1900 Whatever Lane
    Huntingdon Valley, PA 19400

    VIA CERTIFIED MAIL

    Re: Hot / Potable Water Supply

    I am notifying you via certified mail that repairs are needed to my home. Since _________, 2013 there has been discontinuity of hot water service.

    This is unacceptable and its absence is not a negotiable luxury. This is a requirement you are contractually bound under Pennsylvania laws to provide.

    I have received notification from you of when hot water outages would generally occur due to the restaurant operating on the ground floor but the frequency of service outages to my home falls outside the dates and time periods you specified in your last letter to me and these outages are occurring at periods when I need to use the service.

    I shall remind you that Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant law requires all property owners who let out dwellings must provide a habitable dwelling unit due to the unwaiverable Implied Warranty of Habitability. The lack of hot water is certainly a defect that places the onus on you to repair it. This is non-negotiable.

    If I am forced to shower at a gym or rent a motel room in order to seek out temporary shelter I shall deduct the cost of these expenditures and dock rent accordingly into an escrow account. I will serve you notice again if I am forced to do this.

    Should you move to proceed with an eviction for non-payment of rent in Philadelphia Municipal Court, Landlord-Tenant Division, I will immediately move to have your case dismissed and present this letter and evidence of defects with the housing unit to the Municipal Court judge for justifiable non-payment of rent. I will not go into arbitration with you.

    From this point forward I will be keeping a log of all the time periods of when I do not have hot water service to my home and I will provide you with periodic updates on when these outages occur until the problem is corrected.



    --Tenant

  3. #3
    ljp5000 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Thanks ArcticSplash!

    I already keep a file of correspondence, as I've sadly had issues with other landlords.

    I am waiting to hear back from them to see if they are willing to resolve this issue on their own. If they don't intend to do anything to fix the problem I will proceed with a certified letter.

    Thanks again!!

  4. #4
    Brooke's Avatar
    Brooke is offline Moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Germantown
    Posts
    2,640

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ljp5000 View Post
    Thanks ArcticSplash!

    I already keep a file of correspondence, as I've sadly had issues with other landlords.

    I am waiting to hear back from them to see if they are willing to resolve this issue on their own. If they don't intend to do anything to fix the problem I will proceed with a certified letter.

    Thanks again!!
    This is actually a risk you run whenever you rent a place where you don't pay for hot water. This stinks. I'm not sure how they can have a restaurant run out of hot water...might be worth reporting to L&I too. Ick.
    Licensed Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson and inactive and happily non-practicing Attorney, CITYSPACE
    www.freshquarters.com

  5. #5
    loveisnoise's Avatar
    loveisnoise is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Mom's, the studio, or your mom's bed.
    Posts
    11,476

    Default

    Brooke just said exactly what I was thinking... if you're out of water, so is the restaurant-and that's not up to code.

  6. #6
    Gladys's Avatar
    Gladys is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    7,673

    Default

    it's usually in the lease that the landlord provides water, that's a given. If you have to pay for it that too is stated in the lease.

    If what artic advised doesn't work put your rent into an account specifically for your rent and withhold it until the problem is solved. And start whatever arbitration of civil process is appropriate.

    They obviously need to get a new water or larger water tank. Your rent includes the fee for water - hot, cold or whatever.
    "If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you."
    - attributed to both George Bernard Shaw & Oscar Wilde


    "I never clean up after my dogs, because I have trained them to run with me off leash while I ride my bike the wrong way on the sidewalk."
    - LUCas
    Originally Posted by Dave L We need to focus on banning both singers who crap on the sidewalk and dogs that annoy people with their singing. - Mondo

  7. #7
    ArcticSplash's Avatar
    ArcticSplash is offline Dixie Normus
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Couch Surfing in Kensington
    Posts
    11,737

    Default

    For a leasable dwelling unit (the key word here is DWELLING), no landlord can waiver-away anything that is an implied warranty of habitability [this is a feature of PA law that not all states have].

    The term "implied" means that it's part of your lease contract no matter what you agreed to in your contract, even if you signed waivers from the landlord.

    Habitability is anything a normal judge hearing a landlord-tenant case dealing with apartment defects would consider central to inhabiting a dwelling. Those are items like:

    - Access to hot water and potable water
    - Sewage
    - Electricity
    - Heating
    - A bathroom with all the basic fixtures functioning (bathtub/shower, toilet and sink... the landlord might get away with not having a working bidet if your apartment has a bidet but let's just not go there)
    - Windows/doors intact, locks work on all doors and windows
    - Roof system

    Here's some legal opinion courtesy of Google of where the PA implied warranty of habitability's origin is:
    Pennsylvania's Implied Warranty of Habitability



    On the docking of the rent check, you can dock the full rent or all of the rent provided you state your justification for it clearly and up front (that's why you have to use certified mail), or you can make the repairs yourself which not possible in the OP's situation, the heater is in the basement in another space not common to hers and then go to Municipal Court filing a claim against the landlord.

    If this were a broken toilet she could just pay to have it fixed herself after telling the landlord way ahead of time before, during and after the repair and then just wait for last months' rent to become due and short that check for the toilet and move out of the apartment. He won't get much satisfaction trying to file suit for a repair with a couple hundred after she's already moved into someone else's apartment and left him; plus she can still defeat his suit by responding to his claim and showing proof of the toilet repair. He'll probably retaliate by claiming your entire deposit and coming up with bogus "repairs" but that's a different dispute from the toilet. Never a good situation when you are in a bad relationship with your landlord.


    If you dock rent in full or in part for repairs you'll have to build a massive file demonstrating the origin of the problem, every attempt you made to get the problem corrected all those times you reached out to the landlord and what the landlord did or didn't do.


    If you're repairing it yourself the cost of repairs can be docked and you don't have to ever pay that back because you otherwise paid a cost that the landlord would have spent to do the repair had he hired a contractor; but you must give the landlord plenty of DOCUMENTED opportunity to allow him to get the repair made or for him to do the repair himself if he doesn't want to spend the funds hiring somebody. He can argue that you snatched away the opportunity for him to fix a "minor" problem and instead costed him a tremendous amount of money by intervening. That's why you gotta document the crap out of it and throw plenty of written warnings his way.


    And all landlords just about use the small cabal of 10 lawyers in Philly who do nothing but bulk file in Landlord-Tenant Court; in many instances when you are going down this road and you have to dock rent the landlord just does a knee-jerk and hires someone like Baritz or one of the other speedy-eviction lawyers that run their office close to the court and move to evict for non-payment.

    If it winds up in here, you have to turn up to court (usually in bullpen 4-B), you get called if you appear and then you get ushered into an arbitration room next door. You should refuse arbitration and demand to see the judge because you're going to show the judge the docos you have. Since it's hard to "show" you have no hot water, that's why you should keep a log of when you're missing it when you don't have it (dates/times) and you should consistently call and follow-up in writing every time you're bitching about this problem.

    That makes it painless for the judge to throw the eviction out. I imagine the conversation will go something like...

    Judge: "Ok so we're not working out a deal?"

    Tenant: "No your honor. I warned Mr. X several times on the phone and in writing that I have to have hot water in my apartment. I told him fourteen times and he has rebuffed me each time. He's been notified by certified mail that I would be docking the check if I had to go into a hotel any time I had to be sure I had hot water in the morning. He's failed to fix it and only gives me excuses. I docked the check, and I have all my receipts with me."

    LT court by the way is a total kangaroo court. It's literally like the DMV in there, so results are not predictable AT ALL... the same case can appear before every different judge that rotates in L&T and you can get just as many outcomes. But at least letting your landlord know ahead of time that you're familiar with the eviction process and how L&T court works in case this problem develops into a seriously soured relationship that wins up at L-T will definitely throw up alarm bells with the landlord that you're not going to just sit around and accept **** excuses all the way up to the end of your lease contract.


    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    it's usually in the lease that the landlord provides water, that's a given. If you have to pay for it that too is stated in the lease.

    If what artic advised doesn't work put your rent into an account specifically for your rent and withhold it until the problem is solved. And start whatever arbitration of civil process is appropriate.

    They obviously need to get a new water or larger water tank. Your rent includes the fee for water - hot, cold or whatever.
    Last edited by ArcticSplash; 09-23-2013 at 09:49 PM.

  8. #8
    ljp5000 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default

    The best part is our lease says that we pay for the hot water. The box is checked under tenant. Funny little landlord joke?

    Thank you thank you thank you for the breakdown of the process! I hope it doesn't get that far. Typically if a problem is impacting the restaurant they jump to fix it. I'm hoping that threatening to contact L&I will get the ball rolling but its good to know what the next steps are if we need to take it to court.

  9. #9
    Tartan69's Avatar
    Tartan69 is offline Pawn in game of life
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Fairmount/Spring Garden
    Posts
    2,486

    Default

    Good grief WTF is wrong with some of these landlords? I would be outright embarrassed if one of my tenants didn't have something as basic as hot water. I know slumlords and their ilk have existed since the dawn of time, and tenant education is generally lacking across the board, but it really makes my head spin that they get away with stuff like this. Are there any options for pushing to fix the L/T court randomness that Arctic mentioned?

  10. #10
    ShoshTrvls's Avatar
    ShoshTrvls is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Queen Village
    Posts
    3,541

    Default

    Beware of non-lawyers providing legal advice.

  11. #11
    raider.adam is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sharswood
    Posts
    16,192

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ShoshTrvls View Post
    Beware of non-lawyers providing legal advice.
    Short of going to a lawyer, I would recommend the tenant contact these people: City of Philadelphia: Fair Housing Commission

    Why get into a legal squabble when the City can do it for you?

  12. #12
    ShoshTrvls's Avatar
    ShoshTrvls is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Queen Village
    Posts
    3,541

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by raider.adam View Post
    Short of going to a lawyer, I would recommend the tenant contact these people: City of Philadelphia: Fair Housing Commission

    Why get into a legal squabble when the City can do it for you?
    Agreed.

    There is also the Landlord/Tenant Legal Help Center, which provides free legal information regarding LL/T matters. The Help Center is located at the Philadelphia Municipal Court, The Widener Building, 1339 Chestnut Street, Room 1009. Last I checked, it was open Monday 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. You can also contact the Help Center by calling 215-606-3556.

    One more resource for the OP is this document from L&I, which includes information about the requirement that hot water be provided: https://business.phila.gov/Documents...od_housing.pdf

  13. #13
    mellow yellow is offline Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    41

    Default

    If you want to be a jerk...

    I would use up all of the hot water prior to the popular brunch spot opening up so they don't have hot water. I bet if the restaurant complains the landlord will be more apt to do something than if it were just you unfortunately.

  14. #14
    Julia1020's Avatar
    Julia1020 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    N. Point Breeze
    Posts
    1,189

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mellow yellow View Post
    If you want to be a jerk...

    I would use up all of the hot water prior to the popular brunch spot opening up so they don't have hot water. I bet if the restaurant complains the landlord will be more apt to do something than if it were just you unfortunately.

  15. #15
    drewrob23 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    3,119

    Default

    Don't know the cost involved but it seems like it would be easier for the landlord to have a hot water heater installed instead of going back and forth with a tenant. I also wouldn't be childish enough to intentionally use all the hot water, just for spite. I think your best bet is to move. It's like when you take someone to human resources at work. If they keep their job you've made an enemy for life.

  16. #16
    ShoshTrvls's Avatar
    ShoshTrvls is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Queen Village
    Posts
    3,541

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by drewrob23 View Post
    Don't know the cost involved but it seems like it would be easier for the landlord to have a hot water heater installed instead of going back and forth with a tenant. I also wouldn't be childish enough to intentionally use all the hot water, just for spite. I think your best bet is to move. It's like when you take someone to human resources at work. If they keep their job you've made an enemy for life.
    Yes, what the LL clearly needs to do is either install a separate traditional water heater for the apartment units or a tankless unit for each apartment.

  17. #17
    Tartan69's Avatar
    Tartan69 is offline Pawn in game of life
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Fairmount/Spring Garden
    Posts
    2,486

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mellow yellow View Post
    If you want to be a jerk...

    I would use up all of the hot water prior to the popular brunch spot opening up so they don't have hot water. I bet if the restaurant complains the landlord will be more apt to do something than if it were just you unfortunately.
    ^ THIS x100. I would bet that would solve your problem pretty quickly without even needing to go the legal route (although you should still start down that path as a matter of due diligence).
    Last edited by Tartan69; 09-24-2013 at 08:10 PM.

  18. #18
    Tartan69's Avatar
    Tartan69 is offline Pawn in game of life
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Fairmount/Spring Garden
    Posts
    2,486

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by drewrob23 View Post
    Don't know the cost involved but it seems like it would be easier for the landlord to have a hot water heater installed instead of going back and forth with a tenant.
    Depends a lot on the space available, size of the tank required, how much new piping is needed, etc. Also need to think about gas vs electric since gas has more requirements for ventilation. On the low end if everything is simple I'd say in the $500-$700 range for all that. If a space has to be carved out and built and new piping needs to be run, then several thousand at least. My guess is if they haven't done it before, then it's probably on the higher end. Still inexcusable IMO.

  19. #19
    raider.adam is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sharswood
    Posts
    16,192

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan69 View Post
    ^ THIS x100. I would bet that would solve your problem pretty quickly without even needing to go the legal route (although you should still start down that path as a matter of due diligence).
    How would that solve the problem? Obviously the restaurant is already running out of hot water. Plus it just means you are waiting for the restaurant to complain about it.

    The solution isn't to play games. The solution is to address the situation.

  20. #20
    Tartan69's Avatar
    Tartan69 is offline Pawn in game of life
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Fairmount/Spring Garden
    Posts
    2,486

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by raider.adam View Post
    How would that solve the problem? Obviously the restaurant is already running out of hot water. Plus it just means you are waiting for the restaurant to complain about it.

    The solution isn't to play games. The solution is to address the situation.
    I did say to do that as well. But always remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

 

 

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2