A mom of four is at wit’s end because she says no one has repaired a collapsed, leaking ceiling in her rental home.
All renters should be aware of her frustration and what they can do if repairs are not made.
Mia Manalili, a mother of four, has always loved her rental house.
However, she claims that one of her daughters’ rooms has become uninhabitable due to the ceiling leaking every time it rains. Now it is collapsing.
Manalili keeps a bucket full of plaster and other debris. Her daughter says she is fortunate that it didn’t land on her while she was sleeping.
“That’s my biggest problem right now,” she stated, “because I have young ones.”
She said she was complaining for months about water leaks before the ceiling fell.
“I had been calling them and saying there’s a bubble on the ceiling,” she said.
Manalili is curious how long it takes for a landlord to fix a leaky roof.
She is concerned that the entire ceiling might collapse when there is another heavy downpour.
We called the landlord. A spokesperson said that the house has a slate roof. Slate repair companies are also backed up. We expect to have it fixed very soon.
After our call, a roofing contractor showed up and started to repair the roof.
What you can do if you can’t get help
So what can you do if a landlord won’t fix a serious issue?
Real estate attorney Dan McCarthy has told us you should:
- send the landlord a letter explaining the problem, including photos, if possible;
- give him 30 days to make repairs;
- if nothing happens, visit your local courthouse and ask the clerk’s office how to open an escrow account.
“You do what is called a rent escrow,” McCarthy said.
This allows you to legally withhold rent in a court-approved account. During the escrow process, your landlord cannot evict.
There are not all states that have court-supervised rent accounts. There are legal ways to withhold rent in some states. Read the state-by-state rules here.
Manalili claims she was unable to figure out what to do after receiving many calls.
She said, “It’s not livable.”
You cannot stop paying rent, no matter how dire the condition of your apartment. You can usually be evicted if you do.
You won’t be wasting your money.
Don’t Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
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