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Frozen pipes

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Frozen pipes

Postby acacia » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:05 am

Hi,

I'm an international student from a tropical country, which has no clue about the frozen pipes issue during winter. After I was back to my home country for a month, my landlord sent me a message that he wants to talk with us about the frozen pipes issue. That the pipes were frozen and there was water everywhere in the house, he had the replace some of the heaters. (Which I'm not sure if he replaced the heaters because of this issue because he's working on replacing the old heaters of the house for a new one.

In the contract, he never explained that I have to leave the heaters on during winter or anything about the prevention of frozen pipes.

Am I still responsible for this negligent?

in the contract, it stated:

Landlord is not liable for loss, expense, or damage to any person or property, unless due to landlord's negligence. tenant must pay for damages suffered and money spent by landlord relating to any claim arising from any act or neglect of tenant.

Is there any way that I can deal with it?

And in the worst case, can I ask for the reparation receipt to know what I should pay or being deducted from the deposit?
acacia
 
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Re: Frozen pipes

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:11 am

Frozen pipes can be a costly problem, for both the tenant and the building owner as they can also burst, increasing the damages. Tenants are advised to have or get renters insurance for this - and other - reasons. I pay only $150/year for renters insurance.

Pipes can easily freeze when they are in the outside walls of a building and there is insufficient insulation surrounding the pipes during an extended cold period (like we have now). It helps to have water flowing constantly through the pipes to prevent freezing, even if it's only a few drips.

First start documenting everything ... all letters, emails. Record phone conversations if possible. Take many photos of all your possessions.

Are you in NYC? There should be no need for extra heaters as the LL must supply heat from a central source unless he has a waiver from HPD (unlikely). It's his obligation to supply heat. And even a minimal amount of heat is needed - say in the 40's F. - to prevent pipes from freezing.

If the landlord does not have central heat and has you paying for heat from units within each apartment, that could be illegal, and could force you to pay for heating costs on top of rent. In my opinion, if this is the case, you might have a claim on the landlord.

In no way are you responsible for the frozen pipes or any of the damages, I would think the LL is responsible, along with damages to any of your possessions.

It is not your negligence, but the LL's negligence in our opinion. Do NOT let the landlord intimidate you into paying for any of this. If he tries, I would speak to a tenant attorney.

And as you are a foreign national, document anything he might say or do that could try to threaten your status here in the states.

As for your deposit, when the time comes I would consider that the LL might illegally try to withhold your deposit based on false claims of your negligence. That is why some tenants withhold the last month's rent to avoid this. (however it should not prevent legitimate damage claims). Do not allow the LL to turn the obligation away from him to blame on you.
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Re: Frozen pipes

Postby acacia » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:01 am

we actually are renting a house instead of the apartment.
Does the landlord have his obligation to have the heaters on? we are in NYC.
So far, he wants us to pay the electricity, water, and gas bill. Which includes the heater.
So we are paying for the heaters too.
I don't know how things/regulations work here in the New York, so it's quite frustrating for me now.
acacia
 
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Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:57 pm

Re: Frozen pipes

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:35 pm

Look at Section 27-2028 of the Housing Maintenence Code http://tenant.net/Other_Laws/HMC/sub2/art8.html

Some sections of the code apply to all buildings, while other sections apply to just buildings with 3 or more units.

If it's an old house I would look for evidence of an old heating system that served the entire building, i.e., steam pipes coming out of the walls or floors.

In NYC it is custom that tenants pay for electricity and cooking gas, but not for water or for gas to run the boiler. Electric space heaters are usually not permitted. Some LLs will decommission old steam heat and put in space heaters forcing tenants to pay the electric cost. That's not permitted as far as I know. But check with HPD and Con Ed as the code provision does allow for landlords to obtain waivers.

You can also check with your local elected officials, community board, and as you're a foreign national, there might be organizations that help people from your country of origin. That depends in what part of the city you are in.

And if the landlord is in violation, I would say the landlord owes you what you have spent for electrical power to run the heaters.
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