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Re: Landlord dragging feet on numerous repairs

Posted by Penny on September 28, 2000 at 14:50:41:

In Reply to: Landlord dragging feet on numerous repairs posted by Ehren on September 26, 2000 at 16:49:20:

Cutting to the chase:

: Water damage to living room wall, bathroom wall, bedroom wall and ceiling, resolved Sept. 21
: Sickening odors associated with water damage (which lasted for approximately two weeks)
: Holes in walls where mice could enter the apartment, resolved Sept. 22
: Mice in kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, closets, and living room, resolved Sept. 22
: Damaged refrigerator, resolved Sept. 21
: No smoke detector, resolved Sept. 15
: Bedroom door unable to close, resolved Sept. 8
: Only partial electricity in the living room, resolved Sept. 25
: No electricity in one bedroom (unresolved)
: Only partial electricity in the second bedroom (unresolved)
: Peeling paint on inside of front door (unresolved)
: Numerous large scratches in the paint on outside of front door (unresolved)

And today is only September 29. Not bad, all in all.

The electrical problems in the bedrooms are not trivial, but if it is not a dangerous condition your landlord can take a bit of time. It seems (by your account of it) that the landlord is having repairs made on a week-by-week or so basis. He may be getting contractors or repairmen in to do the work on the cheap. There is no reason for him not to do that as long as the work is being done correctly. For now, insist that the electrical system is top priority.

Scratches on the outer surface of your front door are not a priority. Peeling paint on the inside of the front door may not be a priority, either. The paint may be perfectly safe. If it is the uppermost layers peeling off, they are probably lead-free. However, the door should at least be repainted.

: The following problems were caused by my landlord's efforts to correct the aforementioned problems (all done by hired contractors or the super):

: In repairing the water damage, contractors scraped paint and plaster from the ceilings and walls, without covering up any furniture in the apartment. Clouds of dust filled the living room and both bedrooms, and a fine white dust settled on all surfaces, including beds, tables, our sofa, and our children's toys. This resulted in a filthy, dusty apartment that required extensive cleaning when repairs were complete. It also posed a potential lead hazard, since many layers of paint were removed and exposed in the process.

How long were you unable to use the apartment while the mess was being cleaned up? Did you clean the apartment up yourself?

: Plaster was applied to ceilings and walls before the underlying surface was dry. This resulted in peeling and cracking plaster, necessitating additional scraping, plastering, drying and painting (and additional inconvenience and messes for us to endure).

What wet surfaces were under the new plaster? How long were you unable to live in the apartment while this was being corrected?

: In the process of fixing water damaged rooms and sealing off mouse holes, laborers tracked water, dirt, dust, plaster, paint, and cement throughout the apartment, dulling the finish on the hardwood floors and discoloring it in several places. What was once a shiny, polished floor is now dull and tarnished.

This happens, my dear. It's unfortunate, but it happens. If you brought it to the landlord's attention as soon as possible after it happened or as it happened, he will be aware that it was not your doing. Ask him to polish the floors anew.

: In the process of repairing the bedroom door, the super scraped paint off of the door and the doorframe. When this was pointed out to the landlord, the super returned and painted the affected areas, but in a different shade of white. We have since re-painted the door ourselves.

I'm always amazed by how many shades of white there are! The door was repaired, the painting was completed. If the shade used did not appeal to you esthetically, you did the right thing by repainting. But don't expect the landlord to reimburse you.

: In an effort to repair problems with electricity, the contracted electrician cut several large holes (10" x 10") in the ceilings of the bathroom and the kitchen. He still did not fix the electrical problems, and he told us that the super could repair the holes. The super insists it is not his job.

Ask the landlord. He determines what is and is not the super's job.


: 1. The landlord has agreed to credit me a week's rent, plus an additional $300. Am I entitled to more (considering the duration of most of these problems)?

Again, how long were you actually unable to live in the apartment, and how much did you spend on cleaning up after workmen?

: 2. Problems persist, notably the absence of electricity in half of the apartment. The landlord continues to promise a resolution, but nothing is happening. Can I complain to DHCR or somebody like that?

The landlord seems to be getting repairs done at a remarkable pace. Give him more than a day, please.

: 3. Is the landlord obligated to fix peeling paint (my building is quite old and probably has layers of lead paint below the outer coat)?

See my response above.

: 4. Who pays for damages incurred by contractors and the super (ie, damaged floors, holes in the ceiling)?

See my response above.

: It's clear to us that this apartment was not fit to be moved into, considering the huge problems we have had in getting anything repaired. Any ideas? Any help is greatly appreciated!

Then why did you move in? Was none of this evident when you were first shown the apartment? Did you ignore the water damage and not notice that the electrical service was spotty? Didn't you see the doors? Did the holes in the walls and the incidental mice bother you at the time? Didn't you smell the odor (given, it might not have appeared until the cruddy plaster was torn down)? Why did you take the apartment under these circumstances?

My opinion is that your landlord is doing what he should, but beware. Keep your eyes open for other problems. What condition is the rest of the building in? What about the other apartments in the building. What shape are those in? Talk to your neighbors and see what their history in the building has been like. How the apartment got into that shape--who knows! The landlord and super may or may not have been aware of what was happening in there or in the apartment above (is there one, or are you on the top floor with a leaking roof to contend with). Whatever. Repairs have been made to your unit and it seems that more repairs are forthcoming.

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