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House has faulty wiring, landlord refuses to fix it, a fire almost started...

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Utah

I began renting a property in September of 2014 with my husband and a roommate. The house was built in 1968 and has aluminum wiring, and the devices attached to the aluminum wires are copper. These devices had had electrical tape and "wire nuts" screwed on to tie them in with the copper, which is NOT up to code.

On Monday morning (real early, about 1:30AM), my bedroom smelled of burning plastic, my lights flashed and dimmed, and the power went dead to both my bedroom and the bedroom across the hall as soon as I flipped the switch. I ran downstairs and flipped the power main off.

My landlord is in California, and couldn't be reached by phone, nor could our maintenance guy. We called an electrician out once we made sure there wasn't an active fire in that bedroom.

The electrician came out at about 2:30AM, and found that one of the connections had melted and nearly started a fire.

The electrician we hired informed the landlord the following day that while the house doesn't necessarily need rewiring, there is a tremendous fire hazard and every single connection and splice within the wiring needs to be redone to prevent another situation like we had with the bedroom outlet. The landlord said no, that he will not do the repairs because "it's not likely it will burn down." Regardless of likelihood, we very nearly DID have a fire, so frankly, I don't care about his not wanting to spend the money.

The wiring is not the only problem as far as code violations. The windows in the basement have been sealed shut and cannot be climbed out of in the event of a fire, the gutters have all been torn down, the garage is starting to separate from the house, etc. Basically, my house looks really pretty inside, but there are a ton of problems that we had no way of knowing about when we moved in.

Our recommendation from the electrician was to contact the building inspectors and get the house condemned.

Can we get our deposit back? What about February rent, which I paid on 1/31 before this nightmare with the wiring? How long would we have to get our belongings out of the house once condemned? And of course, what exactly makes a home condemned in Utah?


Senior Member
The term is not condemned. The term is uninhabitable from your description. Once declared uninhabitable, no one may live there the home must be mothballed for winter and the power must be shut off. As long as you have property in the home, you must pay rent even if it is declared uninhabitable.


Senior Member
Here is a link to Utah Legal Services. The site provides answers to your questions and additional links for more information:

The electrician who came out to examine the house's wiring gave you a first good step to take - contact your local building inspector.

What you do next can depend on what the inspector finds during his inspection.

Make sure the house has working smoke (and heat) alarms if you decide to stay in the house for now or until the inspection is completed.

Good luck.
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Senior Member
NOT up to code
Keep in mind that not everything that is "not up to code" is a problem. Most houses are not up to code, as the codes have changed since the house was build. That does not always mean that the owner has to change things.

However I fully understand your problems and that you want them fixed. Use the building department.


Senior Member
As long as those connections are in a box, with wire nuts, they are likely perfectly fine. Where was the bad connection? What caused it to come loose?


Senior Member
As long as those connections are in a box, with wire nuts, they are likely perfectly fine. Where was the bad connection? What caused it to come loose?
not necessarily true.

I am having difficulty understanding what the op is describing. Aluminum wire; got it. Connected to what and where do the wire nuts come into play.

Aluminum wiring in the era the house was built is generally considered a hazard and likely would allow the building department to condemn the house UNLESS there were repairs using listed (legally approved) means to repair it.

There is a listed repair using a specially designed wire nut where one woukd splice a pigtail ( short piece of wire) of copper wire to the aluminum wire. The copper pigtail was then attached to the device (receptacle, switch).

it isn't s matter of code because when installed the aluminum wire used was code compliant. Although aluminum wire of the size used is no longer permissible, the code application is not retroactive. That doesn't mean the installation (without "repairing" it) is safe as it is not.

As has been recommended, contact the local building department and electrical inspector to investigate the situation.


Junior Member
Let me explain the wiring better.

The aluminum wires are twisted around a copper wire, and the e-taped, and then a wire but was slapped on top.


Senior Member
Do you have renters insurance ? I agree with every one else here who has told you to call inspections Your LL likely has known of this homes poor wiring connections for years , sad to say many people don't get it that it really matters that one use special connectors to connect alum wiring to copper or to make sure all fixtures are not marked CU only= copper only. ( switches - outlets)

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