+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Ruthz is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3

    Uninhabitable house

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    Wisconsin
    I need some help-
    My son recently rented his first “place”; a small home in the country. He wanted to do this himself and I let him do just that. He signed a 12 month lease. When we helped him move in I almost fainted when I noticed what I would consider some serious safety violations.
    1- Woodstove installed directly on a wood floor and the protection for the wall behind is a piece of aluminum siding leaning against the wall (seriously)
    2- Propane heater is not vented to the outside at all
    3- Front door is literally screwed shut- tight….does not open

    My son spent one night there using the woodstove and keeping the propane heater on low- the place was freezing and in the morning all he could smell was fumes. He called the landlord and said he wants out- this is not a safe place to live. A call was placed to the BBB to find out what my son could do to prove the unsafeness of this property. He was told it would need to be inspected. I contacted a local inspector- it was deemed “uninhabitable”. Besides the issues I listed above there are live wires hanging from fuse boxes, the windows were problematic, and the foundation had cracks that were stuffed with clothing and rags. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    This is where I need the help- my son gave a security deposit and first month’s rent. He paid for the inspection, and also incurred moving costs (U-haul/gas) for a wasted move. What is his legal recourse? I would feel he is entitled to all these costs refunded to him.

    I did find the Wisconsin Way and did a little reading. Some of the issues I mentioned should have been disclosed by the landlord, but I’m not finding solid info in what we should do.

    My son and I spoke with the landlord mentioned. Did not go well….at all. This man is quite aggressive and tried to take over and tell us what was going to happen; he said he’d give my son back some of his money from the security deposit/first month rent but if he thought he was getting it all back he was crazy. He also said he has a family that is ready to move in. If true; I pity those people……the same thing is going to happen to them- they will freeze and/or get sick from fumes. And to think there may be children involved is sad.

    I have a copy of the inspection; I did not and will not send it to the landlord. The money came from my pocket- that’s my thought anyways. He said the house is fully up to code.

    Next step- I do want to take this the legal route. Figuring my first step is to file the inspection “somewhere”? Please advise how and where I go about doing this.

    Questions-
    I’d imagine this is a small claims court issue. The landlord told me he has already spoken to his attorney…..do I need to find an attorney? I don’t want to go into this only to be trampled on. I’ve never gone to small claims so don’t truly know what to expect.

    The Inspector suggested I contact the Dept of Agriculture. His words: also "mention" to the Dept of Agriculture that this place is NOT habitable/safe, and that POS is renting it out to another unsuspecting poor soul.
    Do you agree that this is the dept I should contact?

    I appreciate your time in helping my son and I with this. It’s a situation I’ve not been in before and feel a bit blind in what to do to follow the correct procedure.


    Thank you, in advance- I’m not sure where else to turn. My son doesn’t have a dime to his name currently- the move is due to starting a new job with Oshkosh Truck 1-10-11. Now he’s behind the 8-ball both time wise and financially.
  2. #2
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    4,769
    Did you also sign the lease (either as a tenant or a co-signer)?

    If not, you have no legal say in any of this. What you feel he is entitled to means absolutely nothing from a legal standpoint. The landlord does not even have to speak with you if you attempt to contact him.

    If your son does not receive the amount of his security deposit or rent he believes he is entitled to, HE needs to file in Small Claims court (this court generally hears cases that involve relatively small amounts of money in dispute). Filing charges are relatively low and most folks simply represent themselves in the hearing. He would bring the inspection report as evidence that the unit was uninhabitable.

    I cannot express enough that should this end up in court your son needs to handle this and unless he decides to subpeona you as a witness to describe the condition of the unit at move in, you need to keep your mouth shut in court. I've heard young tenants lose cases when parents (who have not signed the lease) attempt to take over in the court to prove the case.

    Your son wanted to find a place and sign a lease all by himself. Let him deal with these issues which are part of growing up.

    Gail
  3. #3
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    snowland
    Posts
    11,100
    I agree with Gail your free to offer moral support to your son but dont speak in court unless asked to by the court and do not offer more than what you saw . That inspection report will be invaluable in court. If your son is not living there now there is no point in trying to call city/ county inspections and file complaints , the time to do that was while he occupied the unit, they would have had the power to condemn and order him to move out which would be a automatic for him in court to get un used rent and dep awarded back to him. Your son can search your states landlord tenant law and learn all he can from it, those statutes unless re numbered I think start in the 704s WI law is pretty clear and very easy to follow.
  4. #4
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    4,769
    Sounds like you contacted a home inspector instead of Code Enforcement. Home inspectors do exactly that; they inspect units up for sale to let potential buyers know the condition of the home. They typically have no power to legally "condemn" a unit.

    It would have been far better to have contacted local Code Enforcement.

    However, if this ends up in court, your son can certainly present the inspection report as evidence to his claim that the rental unit was uninhabitable.

    Gail
  5. #5
    John_DFW is offline Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    559
    Many areas require landlords to obtain an inspection before receiving a "certificate of occupancy"
    I would call Code Enforcement to inquire if that is the case. If one is required but was not obtained, they will probably ask for a copy of the lease.
  6. #6
    Ruthz is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3
    I have no intention of doing the talking for my son- am helping him with the proper path he should take.
    This is definately a life lesson he'll have under his belt.
    Thank you for your input-
  7. #7
    HatRack is offline Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Long Beach, CA
    Posts
    54
    Quote Originally Posted by Gail in Georgia View Post
    Sounds like you contacted a home inspector instead of Code Enforcement. Home inspectors do exactly that; they inspect units up for sale to let potential buyers know the condition of the home. They typically have no power to legally "condemn" a unit.

    It would have been far better to have contacted local Code Enforcement.

    Gail
    Gail is right on the mark. Your Son should contact code and code enforcement right away. Or the health department.

    The LL saying they have another tenant ready to move in. Screams to me that they do not have Certif. of Occupancy that is required in most cities of NY. Opps sorry WI.
  8. #8
    nextwife is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    24,357
    I am in WI.

    A Certificate of Compliance for a single family home is usually only required prior to the original occupants moving in after construction, and in SOME communities, before a new OWNER moves in. In more rural communities, there is little in inspection requirements prior to renting a single family home, unless they are receiving rent assistance.

    Were there any agreements that included rehab in the rent? Did son agree to any work "in exchange" for lower rent? Has son checked CCap to see if the owner is in foreclosure?
    [url]http://wcca.wicourts.gov/simpleCaseSearch.xsl[/url]

    Do call the building Inspector.
    Last edited by nextwife; 01-09-2011 at 08:57 AM.
  9. #9
    Ruthz is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3

    Uninhabitable house

    Followed the advice given- my son contacted the inspector for the county this house is located just to be sure it wasn't an issue if the initial inspection had no been done by him. Interestingly, this man had already been contacted, sent the inspection report/pictures by the inspector we had hired. My son then also contacted the Code Enforcement Dept- he also had received the report/pics. This gentleman's response was this place is a death-trap and he was contacting the Health Dept. Very nice to see how these different inspectors/depts work together.

    My son's personal next step is to go the legal route in attempt to get his money back. He's contacted an attorney for legal advice.
  10. #10
    CSO286 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Once upon a time, far, far, away...
    Posts
    5,364
    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthz View Post
    Followed the advice given- my son contacted the inspector for the county this house is located just to be sure it wasn't an issue if the initial inspection had no been done by him. Interestingly, this man had already been contacted, sent the inspection report/pictures by the inspector we had hired. My son then also contacted the Code Enforcement Dept- he also had received the report/pics. This gentleman's response was this place is a death-trap and he was contacting the Health Dept. Very nice to see how these different inspectors/depts work together.

    My son's personal next step is to go the legal route in attempt to get his money back. He's contacted an attorney for legal advice.
    Good job. Do let us know how it turns out, hmm?

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-20-2011, 09:28 AM
  2. Uninhabitable house?
    By jayjoiner in forum Landlord / Tenant Issues
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 11-12-2008, 08:47 PM
  3. Water damaged house uninhabitable
    By showmemo in forum Landlord / Tenant Issues
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-06-2005, 05:14 AM
  4. Trying to break lease, believe house is uninhabitable
    By richardroberts in forum Landlord / Tenant Issues
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-03-2003, 02:45 PM
  5. House uninhabitable due to a tree falling on it
    By y2kbfam in forum Landlord / Tenant Issues
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-21-2003, 08:13 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

© 1995-2012 Advice Company, All Rights Reserved

FreeAdvice® has been providing millions of consumers with outstanding advice, free, since 1995. While not a substitute for personal advice from a licensed professional, it is available AS IS, subject to our Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions Of Use.