The Watercourse Way
November 28, 2012 11:41 PM   Subscribe

Should we tell our landlord we're smelling wood rot after a leak he already knows about?

Early this fall our kitchen hose underneath the sink sprung a leak and the water ran moderately fast for somewhere between fifteen and thirty minutes. It took three thirsty bath towels to mop up the water on the cupboard floor and we wondered how much had drained through the hole to whatever is below it. Now, in very cold weather, we're catching a faint smell of rotting wood in that area of the kitchen and especially underneath the sink.

We're renting, and we sense that cash flow is an issue for our landlord. If we try to live with it for his sake is it likely to do any structural damage or otherwise harm his investment? He was involved in the repair and knows about it. Basically, we don't want to bother him unless it's necessary, for his sake or for ours.
posted by Mertonian to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been in this position before and tried to "be nice" by not complaining about things that weren't a big deal for me, but upon moving out, what that meant was the landlord had a fairly long list of things to resolve for the next renter. That's the last thing a landlord with cashflow problems needs.

You're being nice if you let him know the problem exists before other things come along and make it even harder for him to handle it all. You're being extra super nice if you say you can live with it, but I'd worry that there's mold down in there somewhere and that you actually would like it resolved as a health issue / hypoallergenic issue.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:51 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh hell yes! Why not? He needs to know and it might not be a big deal but if it is likely he can dry it out and prevent a much bigger deal. That's not that much water and if he gets air down there it should dry out OK. Especially in the winter with the heating on.
posted by fshgrl at 12:07 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

You MUST tell him. This is actually in a seperate rider we include in all leases for all of the buildings I once managed because it is SO much easier to deal with now, rather than when it gets bad.

Also, it doesn't sound like and expensive pain in the ass at this point.

When the rot is bad enough after repeated leaks and mold sets in, tho? Oh. Headaches.

Please notify him. Thanks!
posted by jbenben at 12:20 AM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, that's going to turn into mould which will make you sick and damage the house. Not only should you tell him, you should insist on it being fixed now. This kind of thing doesn't quietly go away on it's own.

Also, once you tell him, it's his problem. If you don't tell, he might hold you liable for the escalating damage from it not being fixed quickly enough (or at least try to). You have nothing to lose by bothering him with this, and his cash flow isn't your problem.
posted by shelleycat at 12:27 AM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tell him so you don't end up liable.

If you think you can live with it for a little while, say that as well, and it might help him. Rot gets worse and more expensive to fix after time, though.
posted by Ashlyth at 1:00 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everybody! Can't remember the last time there was such consensus about a question! Actually, I want very much to tell him but my husband doesn't. We agreed to abide by MeFi's recommendations so thanks VERY much!
posted by Mertonian at 3:10 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in, you're not making a complaint, you're advising him about possible harm to his investment. Be SURE to put it in an email, and save it. (CYA and all of that.)

Now it's up to him as to how he wants to handle it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

A good rule of thumb when renting is to always let your landlord know when there is a problem, but be very clear if it's something you need fixed or not. This way, when it comes time to get your security deposit back, they can't hold onto it for something wrong just because you didn't think it was a big deal.

Think of it this way, if you owned the house and someone else was living in it, you'd want to know everything that was wrong, even if you didn't think those things needed fixing.
posted by markblasco at 7:25 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

we don't want to bother him unless it's necessary

You cay something like this:
"I'm not sure if this is a problem or not, but I just wanted to let you know in case it's some sort of maintenance issue. Near that water leak that was fixed recently, we're catching a faint smell of rotting wood in that area of the kitchen and especially underneath the sink."
posted by yohko at 9:24 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

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