Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

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Latest post Wed, Nov 30 2016 2:48 PM by ca19lawyer2. 6 replies.
  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 6:25 AM

    • genoism
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, Nov 29 2016
    • NJ
    • Posts 2

    Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    We rent a condo out from someone else, this condo complex has it's own maintenances guys, landlady, etc... Our heat originally did not work. They said the valve was broken. The landlord determined that fixing our heat would be too much 'trouble' to all the other tenants and that they 'can't' turn off the furnace to fix the heating that we cannot control. So their solution was to leave it on full blast for us - the entire winter. Their suggestion of leaving the windows open when it gets too hot is terrible as we are constantly either freezing or frying and its impossible to decently balance out the temperature in the condo. We can't just open the windows when it's too hot because there are people occasionally smoking outside or the car exhaust coming in from the street, or if it's just windy. We have a 2yr old, its not exactly the healthest thing to leave these windows open during this time. And its frustrating to constantly go back and forth with these windows opening and closing. We have an office room by which i work right next to the window. There's just NO way to open this window without freezing yourself regardless of how hot the heater is when it's cold outside.

    Are they legally required to fix the heating? What can we do? I would ideally like to avoid courts and legal fees(and yes I know that they would end up paying for these if found guilty but forking it over to begin with isn't so easy). I don't have the time and money to deal with this garbage in my life right now and if I could just spit out the law in their face I would but I can't find anything online that deals specifically with our situation.

    Thank you!

  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 8:59 AM In reply to

    Re: Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    genoism:
    Our heat originally did not work.

    Originally?  Meaning at the time you moved in?

     

    genoism:
    Are they legally required to fix the heating?

    I'm not sure who "they" are.  Your landlord has an obligation to ensure that the leased premises are in a habitable condition.  Based on your description, I think it's at least questionable whether the landlord has satisfied that obligation.

     

    genoism:
    What can we do?

    You CAN do lots of things, including fixing it yourself and withholding the repair cost from your rent or moving (neither of which is a perfect solution and both of which carry risks).

     

    genoism:
    if I could just spit out the law in their face I would but I can't find anything online that deals specifically with our situation.

    Whether "spit[ting] out the law in their [sic] face" would do any good is debatable, but the probabe reason why you can't find anything online is that this falls under a general doctrine called the warranty of habitability.

  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 9:12 AM In reply to

    • genoism
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, Nov 29 2016
    • NJ
    • Posts 2

    Re: Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    ca19lawyer2:

    genoism:
    Our heat originally did not work.

    Originally?  Meaning at the time you moved in?

    genoism:
    Are they legally required to fix the heating?

    I'm not sure who "they" are.  Your landlord has an obligation to ensure that the leased premises are in a habitable condition.  Based on your description, I think it's at least questionable whether the landlord has satisfied that obligation.

    genoism:
    What can we do?

    You CAN do lots of things, including fixing it yourself and withholding the repair cost from your rent or moving (neither of which is a perfect solution and both of which carry risks).

    genoism:
    if I could just spit out the law in their face I would but I can't find anything online that deals specifically with our situation.

    Whether "spit[ting] out the law in their [sic] face" would do any good is debatable, but the probabe reason why you can't find anything online is that this falls under a general doctrine called the warranty of habitability.

     

     

    1. Yes but not sure if it was working fully when we moved in. We moved in during the summer. When it got colder the heat worked for a few days then stopped cold. We had ~3 days of freezing temperature in the apartment until maintenance came.
    2. They as in maintenance.
    3. We would need to turn off the furnace for the entire complex, I wouldn't even know where to look for that much less have the keys to the door that they most certainly have locked (I would hope).

     

     

    By spitting I didn't mean in the literal sense, more as in if you don't fix this i don't want to have to court but i will because its better than freezing/frying my ass for the entire winter.

    Thank you for your help however, it was informative.

     

  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 9:30 AM In reply to

    Re: Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    genoism:
    They as in maintenance.

    The maintenance people employed by the condo complex likely have no obligations to you.  They may have obligations to your landlord (the owner of the condo), and it's possible that those obligations have passed to you by virtue of your lease.

     

    genoism:
    We would need to turn off the furnace for the entire complex, I wouldn't even know where to look for that much less have the keys to the door that they most certainly have locked (I would hope).

    If heat is centralized, then the condo complex almost certainly has an obligation to your landlord to fix this, and you need to be crawling up your landlord's backside to make sure that happens.  Your landlord owes you the duty to ensure that the premises are habitable.

     

    genoism:
    By spitting I didn't mean in the literal sense, more as in if you don't fix this i don't want to have to court but i will because its better than freezing/frying my ass for the entire winter.

    Obviously it's not literal since one cannot literally "spit out the law" at someone.  Non-lawyers citing laws to other non-lawyers as part of a threat is generally not an effective thing to do.  Given the circumstances, I think you need to move swiftly, which means if your landlord doesn't take prompt action to get this fixed by the end of the week, I think you need to be talking with a lawyer no later than the first part of next week.

  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 10:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    What NJ sources say about the warranty of habitability only specifies a MINIMUM wintertime indoor temperature - there is no official maximum.  See this and this.

    You could try checking your written lease, if you have one, for any wording that might apply.

    If there isn't anything, then you're probably stuck with engineering solutions.  If you can figure out a safe jury-rig solution, that will make your landlord love you.  Or at least not tell other reference-checking landlords that you were a pain to deal with.

    What kind of heat do you have?  Could you try partially blocking the grates where the heat comes in, using something nonflammable of course?  If you have radiators, could you try covering them with insulation rated for contact with hot surfaces?

  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 12:42 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
    • PA
    • Posts 51,417

    Re: Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    Who pays the heat? 

    Too much heat is unlikely to be a code/regulatory problem .....but it not rare n some older buildings or ones with lousy system design .

    ME, I'd take pictures of me in bathing suit and windows open and fan on and send it to folks who,pay the fuel bills ? 

     

     

     

     



  • Wed, Nov 30 2016 2:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Maintenance refuses to fix the heating

    karen2222:
    What NJ sources say about the warranty of habitability only specifies a MINIMUM wintertime indoor temperature - there is no official maximum.

    Given that one of the documents to which you linked apparently was published by an official state source, I'll assume that the reference to a required minimum temperature is a summary of an actual law.  However, the lack of reference to an "official maximum" is really of no significance whatsoever.  The doctrine of habitability isn't going to be defined by specific temperature points, and having the heat "on full blast for . . . the entire winter" and expecting the tenant to open window in the middle of a New Jersey winter to counteract that isn't a reasonable solution to the problem (to say nothing of the heating costs).

    TENANT: "It's 110 in my apartment!"

    LANDLORD: "Open the windows."

    TENANT: "It's 2 degrees above zero and blizzarding outside."

    LANDLORD: "Too bad; the law sets a minimum wintertime temperature but no "official maximum."

    LOL

    Absent some compelling information not otherwise disclosed, this is something the landlord needs to remedy pronto.

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