Renters' Rights After Burst Water Heater in Apt Across the Hall
May 11, 2012 4:20 PM Subscribe
About three weeks ago, we moved into a fantastic new apartment; we are renting. Last Friday, the water heater in the apartment across the hall burst causing extensive damage to our apartment. What are our rights with respect to rent and reasonable expectations regarding quality of life following this incident? Extended explanation inside.
My partner and I moved into a new apartment in the middle of last month. It's a wonderful apartment and we were just settling in. Last Friday, the water heater in the apartment across the hall burst.
Initially, it did not appear that there had been much damage to our unit. The next day, we realized that there had been a lot more than we had thought initially. A number of our still unpacked boxes had a lot of water damage (we were able to save everything in them and are not worried). We have been in constant touch with owner of the apartment whom we respect deeply and who is very diligent.
At the owner's request, a water remediation company came in last Saturday night and removed a foot of wall around the front door, front closet, and in the living room to dry everything out. When they arrived, we moved all of remaining boxes as well as other unpacked items into the middle of the living room, rendering our eating and relaxing area useless.
They installed 10 industrial strength air movers and 2 dehumidifiers and left at 2 am on Sunday morning. The air movers lived with us until Wednesday; since our apartment is a single room neither of us slept very much from Saturday night through Wednesday because the air movers were quite unlike white noise. For the owner's insurance purposes, we were asked not to turn the air movers off and did not, until the owner gave us permission to turn them off while we slept.
Yesterday, the water remediation company came back and pulled up much of the floor, installed a heavy duty plastic sheet with air holes in it and installed both a fan and dehumidifier to dry out the ground under the floor.
We've been told that this equipment will be here until Monday.
It's still undetermined whether or not they're going to pull up the entire floor and install new flooring. In the interim, our move-in process has pretty much come to a halt, we can't use our kitchen or living area because of the equipment (the water is draining into the kitchen sink currently), and we are exhausted. My husband has missed or partially attended work twice this week because he's had to be here to let the workers in. Next week, he will likely have to be at home for two days—for the owner to come and inspect the damage and for the pickup of this latest round of equipment.
I understand and respect the fact that the owner wants to take care of her apartment; this is far preferable than our previous landlord who was not up to the task of maintaining his property. On the other hand, we are both operating on very little sleep, are no closer to being completely unpacked and settled in than we were at this time last week. We won't be any closer at the end of the weekend.
Because we moved in mid-month, we are nearing the time when we will be paying the landlord half of one months rent (until June 1st when we pay for the whole month). While I am completely fine paying for the blissful first two weeks we had here, it seems a bit curious to pay the full rental amount for the last week (and however long this goes on for). As tenants, what are our rights in this regard? As people who very much want to have a good relationship with our new landlord, will we be putting that in jeopardy by suggesting the possibility of reduced rent? Is it possible that the landlord's insurance policy would cover lost rental income if there was was damage in the apartment that rendered it difficult (but not impossible) to be lived in?