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  1. #1
    marshalAK is offline Member
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    Water Off - Landlord Did Not Pay Bill

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? GA

    Hi everyone,

    I rented a house exactly one month ago, and it's been a disaster of unmitigated proportions.

    I got the refrigerator issue resolved (the lease summary noted one was to be included, so he finally brought me one), however, the gas stove is malfunctioning and the dishwasher flooded the kitchen. He agreed on Tuesday to have the dishwasher fixed but I haven't heard from him since on the matter.

    Today I woke up and the water was off to the house. I called the water company to see what was going on, and they informed me the water was disconnected because of $800 in past due water bills. $600 belonged to the prior tenant, and $200 to the landlord.

    They have a copy of my lease, so they know I'm not responsible for the charges - but they cannot turn the water on until the landlord pays the $200 he owes. Once he pays that, it will STILL take approximately 5 business days to reconnect the water to the house.

    I sent him an email through ReadNotify, and it says he's read it - but he has not responded. I have attempted to call him but have not received a response either.

    Legally, what can I do here? I would like to wash my hands of this place with the minimum of financial blowback to me, but will pay pretty much anything at this point to break the lease and find somewhere else to live. How much leverage does the "no water/sanitary facilities" situation give me in terms of terminating the lease with as few penalties as possible?

    Thanks in advance, Seniors!
    Last edited by marshalAK; 03-03-2011 at 10:04 PM. Reason: edited to clarify what I advice I sought
  2. #2
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    call city county building inspections and tell them your lease inc water and LL has not paid the bill and you want them to order LL to have service restored or condemn the unit as not liveable. If its condemned your lease is canceled and nothing LL can do about it, your free to tell the LL thats what your gonna do too if your water is not restored . in many towns once a property has been condemned then the owner faces full code compliance orders so many LLs will avoid it. if it is condemned sue for refund of march rent pro rated in small claims court and your deposit .
    Last edited by FarmerJ; 03-04-2011 at 07:01 AM. Reason: forgot today is friday removed monday
  3. #3
    marshalAK is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarmerJ View Post
    call city county building inspections and tell them your lease inc water and LL has not paid the bill and you want them to order LL to have service restored or condemn the unit as not liveable. If its condemned your lease is canceled and nothing LL can do about it, your free to tell the LL thats what your gonna do too if your water is not restored . in many towns once a property has been condemned then the owner faces full code compliance orders so many LLs will avoid it. if it is condemned sue for refund of march rent pro rated in small claims court and your deposit .
    Farmer,

    I called inspections/code enforcement this morning and they said it's a private matter and they cannot interfere. Their recommendation was move out, refuse to pay anything further, and tell him to go pound sand where the lease was concerned.

    That doesn't sound quite right to me though - what do you think??
  4. #4
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    You have to have everything in writing. If you aren't using the certified function of readnotify, then start now. Also, send a letter to the LL CRRR informing him that you will consider the lease broken due to no water if it is not immediately fixed - that HE pays his portion of the water bill.
  5. #5
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    Your city clerk is so full of bovine excrement its not funny , Ill lay odds that there are city or county ords beside state law that dictates that rented homes have to have working mechanical systems ( plumbing with water) call your city council person or mayor ( they are elected and dont want to neglect voters unless they want bad press for doing so ) and tell them you want them to help you get a building inspector out there to verify in writting that there is no water and order LL to restore it or condemn , the city inspections -zoning desk people have the power to do it and its not a civil matter , tenants have the right to have governmental agents order repairs or condemn when LLs violate habitability laws the rent that you pay also helps pay for city services and being a renter does not exclude you from using them. (even in my rural TWP board members are sometimes called on to go take a preliminary look at property reported to zoning as dangerous and zoning will do follow up based on what is reported back to them. So someone has to be responsible to assist you with getting your LL to not violate local or state housing laws)
  6. #6
    marshalAK is offline Member
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    Thanks all - I am getting this all in writing.

    I just got two hysterical emails (large bolded font throughout!) from the landlord blaming me for the water shutoff - he's claiming if I had faxed in the utility transfer request in the "required one week period" then the water never would have been shut off.

    I did fax the application in on Feb 7 (lease date of Feb 5), and hope I can still pull a report from the fax showing the successful transmission. I refaxed it yesterday when I found the water was off to be triply sure they had a copy.

    Even if I can't find the printout, I read the lease very closely and there's nothing about any 1 week transfer requirement (and I transferred all other utilities at the same time to my name, so why wouldn't I have transferred the water?).

    Finally, the water company called me today to let me know that my application was a moot point anyways since my landlord had never bothered to set up the required documentation for the house - and that goes back years.

    In light of all that, and the fact that there won't be any water on till at least the end of next week, can I tell him to go pound sand?

    ETA: Just got word that he paid the water bill, is in the process of getting the rest of the documentation together, etc - however, there still won't be any water on for another 5 days due to the way the county works. What now? Can I still break the lease in light that the 5 days without running water is entirely on him, as it never would have happened had he paid the bill/had the documentation set up?
    Last edited by marshalAK; 03-04-2011 at 11:25 AM.
  7. #7
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    Time for you to make an appearance at your local government zoning compliance office - hard to blow you off when you are physically there. You want them to come out and check to see if it is inhabitable since there is no water. You need that them to condemn the place. Let your LL know that you are going - maybe you'll see him there paying the water bill
  8. #8
    marshalAK is offline Member
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    Update:

    Landlord says bill is paid (I have a confirmation number) and water will be on on Monday 'at the latest'. Apparently letting him know I was going to code enforcement did the trick.

    I still want out of this lease - this is just in the first month and I've had all these issues with him.

    Even though the water will be back on hopefully by Monday, can I still use this as a negotiation tool for escaping some of the early termination penalties? Or is it your opinion that I'm probably still on the hook?

    Thanks!
  9. #9
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    Is he going to pay for you to stay somewhere for the weekend, or abate your rent for the days that water was not available?
  10. #10
    marshalAK is offline Member
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    Nope. He keeps coming up with excuses as to why it's not his fault the water was turned off, when all signs point otherwise.

    I'm sending him a CL-RRR today to formally inform him of my intention to move out. If I have to cough up some or all of the $ so be it, but right now he's already gotten $2700 from me in return for a nightmare. Not inclined to keep paying those prices for these kind of situations.
  11. #11
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    Marshal your LLs excuses dont cut it because your LL has one option, if there is a neighboring lot adjacent to this home , he can go offering them cash on the spot , using a double female hose adapter and connecting the home you rent to the neighbors for a few days via hose , Same thing is often done when one home has city water line failure and its main is shut off and some city water depts even suggest it to owners 0f property that has water line failure this way the affected home still has water, it is what I had to do to have water for my 4 plex during coldest part of winter when main line failed. nieghbor was kind enough to allow me to connect to her hose bib and I had to leave faucet trickle to keep it from freezing. With enough cash Im sure one of the adjacent neighbors would do it but since they have not done this get inspections out today if possible and order you to vacate, LLS excuses are all crap. get and keep for your records written order that house cannot be lived in and if you move out sue LL for refund of rent so if water was working on until the second of month its math , security deposit no matter what the lease says condemnation over rides and LL will have to give it back so ask for it then too. ( your LL could even have a local water co deliver enough 4 to 5 gal jugs that youd be able to flush cook and carefully sponge bath if the LL was that willing to keep you in the place over the weekend)

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