How should we best work with our landlords?
November 23, 2010 10:38 PM Subscribe
I live with 4 other people (all of whom happen to be very good friends) in a 5-bedroom house in San Francisco, the Mission district specifically. Our house was built in 1923 and is generally in disrepair. Our landlords have been dragging their feet in regards to fixing some issues with our house that are very serious, in our eyes. The breaking point for us is that currently we have no working stove. Special snowflake details inside!
About a month and a half ago the residents of the house had a meeting with our landlord, and also her son and niece, who are the two people we deal with the most on house and rent issues. In this meeting we detailed for them all of our issues with the house and together agreed on a time-frame in which to fix everything. At this same meeting, they informed us that they wanted to raise our rent $500 dollars and we talked them down to $200. The plan was for them to fix all, or most of the things before the first of November, which was when the rent increase was planned to take effect. When the first came around and we had heard absolutely nothing from any of them, we sent them a very concise letter via certified mail detailing exactly what needed to be fixed in the house, within 30 days. It is now almost the end of November and thus far this is what has happened:
The electricity in one of the rooms did not work for many years (don’t ask) and that room now has working electricity and has been re-painted. This is currently the only thing that has been fixed since our original meeting.
The bathroom (main bathroom in the house, 4 of us share it) does not have working power in one of the electrical sockets and some of us are afraid that socket is not grounded. This has not been fixed and now there is a missing strip of wall running from the electrical socket up to the overhead light. This has been like this for over a week.
The stove had issues with gas burners lighting so we requested that they either repair our stove or (preferably) buy us a new one. A couple days ago the landlord’s son called us up to tell us that we were getting a new stove today. I get home from work today and find out that not only did he take away our old stove, he had brought over a “new” stove that in fact looks to be about 20-30 years old and has melted wires inside. This stove currently is not hooked up because when he tried to connect it, it became apparent that it DID NOT WORK.
So here we are two days before Thanksgiving, a house of people in their late-twenties whom all cook dinner at home nearly every night, without a working stove. We got a call within the last hour with a promise of a new stove tomorrow, but given what we have experienced thus far, we are expecting pigs to be flying before that actually happens.
The question is what we can do from here and what are our options as tenants in San Francisco. We have done some research on the tenant’s rights website, but are looking for people who have had experiences with something similar to this in San Francisco. How helpful was the city? We are already planning on calling a building inspector after December 1st, in order to gain support for our complaints, but what should we really expect from an inspection of a building as old and dilapidated as ours? If they don’t get us a working stove in the next few days, how risky will it be to withhold rent?
Also: yes we can move, but unfortunately our house, as crappy as it seems, is in a central location and is slightly cheaper than houses in the neighborhood. At this point we would rather try to work with them to fix all of these things than just move out. Plus, we have a kickin’ backyard and a giant meyer lemon tree.
(I am posting this question for a friend)