I NEED YOUR HELP ACTIVE RAIN. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?

By
Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty - Naperville

It's 6:36 AM.  Saturday.  Naperville.  Illinois.  It's raining and very raw outside.

I have been up for a little over an hour.  I am having my first sips of coffee between key strokes.

And I have some questions.

As I type, I am currently 7 days late on our rent for our home.  I have spoken to my landlord 3 times this week to keep him informed and will call him today as well to finalize some sort of a plan.

I am a good tenant (except for this recent tardiness) and have paid the first 8 months of rent on time.  My rent is $1775 for a small but nice home in a nice neighborhood here in Naperville.

As I type, I can here a fan in the basement blowing.  It is on and has been for the last two days in an effort to dry out the water in our laundry room that has come with the rains.

Yes my basement is flooded. 

This is not the first time.  It's actually the fourth time in 8 months.  The last three times, it was contained to the laundry room.

The first time was a real mess.  Our basement is about a third of the living area of our little split level. 

We had lived in the home for 8 days, and then the water came.  Our basement was soaked, uninhabitable, and all of our furniture had to be moved (by me, I might add).

My landlord we will call Rick, because that's his name. 

When the flood first came our landlord dropped off a wet vac.

I remember saying to dear old Rick "I can't believe you don't want to fix the basement!"

"I can't believe you don't want to vacuum your carpet!" Rick countered.

Needless to say, good old Rick and I don't see eye to eye.

So my dilemma is this.  I know I should pay my rent.  I want to.  I do not have the money.

I just feel it is in shockingly poor form to begin an eviction process WHILE there is water in the basement.

Do you?

What are my rights, if I have any. 

We have done a mold test (it came back positive (no surprise)).  Rick is aware of the flooding.

He seems oddly intentionally disinterested, asking me questions about where the water is coming from, but NEVER doing ANYTHING about it.

I am not a builder.  I know nothing of foundations.  However, when water continues to enter a basement, my hunch is that there just might be something wrong.

Don't you think?

He wants to sell his home, has tried twice, and ended up renting it out.  He is a flipper wanabe.  Now he is a landlord by accident.

I don't feel he wants to address the foundation issues so he can check no foundation issues on the seller disclosure when he goes to sell it again. 

This in no way is an effort to remove my responsibility as a tenant. 

But I do feel he has SOME responsibility as a landlord, doesn't he?

I need your help, Active Rain.

What are my rights?

Ken

www.kensfeaturedhomes.com

 

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
321,056
Sara Homan
Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044 - Ocala, FL
Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+
Report the sleezy slum-lord to the local health department!  Those are conditions that nobody should have to live with.  Mold can seriously affect you and your family for the rest of your life.  DO SOMETHING NOW!  You may also want to see if there is legal action that you can take against Ricky boy!
April 12, 2008 07:12 AM #1
Ambassador
888,141
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114 - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Does your state or local government require landlords to have a license for rental properties?  If so, I would speculate that standing water in the basement is a violation.  At any rate, there's always the health department.  As to your rights, you're a real estate agent - you KNOW we can't answer legal questions.  By the way, have you considered making this a Members Only post... 'don't know if you intend current and potential clients to be aware of your situation...
April 12, 2008 07:19 AM #2
Rainmaker
574,610
Neal Bloom
Keller Williams Properties, Weston FL - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate
My area might have different laws but it's usually in favor of the tenant...judges don't want to put people out on the streets and unless the landlords follow the correct way to evict such as putting a 3 day notice up properly. As far as the problem in your basement I guess it has more to do with your agreement with the landlord as to what they are responsible for. I think the bottom line is to pay the rent on time so this way if the other issue comes up ...at least you've done your due diligence...if you can't afford it then I guess you have a problem...I would refer to your areas landlord/Tenants rights booklet which you could probably get somewhere and if not you might want to consult an attorney who knows the laws and rights.
April 12, 2008 07:19 AM #3
Ambassador
1,811,718
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
Each state has different landlord tenant rights and I would expect that they would either be spelled out in your lease or in state/local authority documents.  Landlords are required to make sure that a home is liveable.  In our area when their is a tenant landlord dispute the rent can be paid to a third party to hold until it is resolved but it must be paid. 

Unless another AR expert is from your state I wouldn't waste time waiting for an answer here.  I'd be on the phone to the local authorities getting the answer or an attorney.  If you don't pay your rent your credit will get dinged and then the next time you want to rent you will have difficulties.
April 12, 2008 07:19 AM #4
Rainmaker
298,489
Heather the Realtor Orlando, Lake Mary
LemonTree Realty - Orlando, FL
First Time Home Buyers, Bank Owned Homes
Every state is different in emergency situation such as that our landlords only have a small window of time to fix these items. If they are not the tenant has the right to withhold rent until they are fixed and they can be reported. Look into your local state boards for more information.
April 12, 2008 07:20 AM #5
Rainer
16,291
Donna Marie Godfrey
RE/MAX Achievers - Pottstown, PA

I am a true landlord Ken.  First of all, I would suggest that you get (when you get some money), tenant insurance to cover your belongings as you know there's water in the basement.  Or, ask Rick if he covers the dwelling as a non-owner occupied.  Ask him to investigate if it covers the clean up of the water, as it is his home.  It is his responsibility to clean up after the water.  Maybe if he claims the damage, after the second time it happened, he would grow tired and fix the problem.  The insurance Company may even cover the fix.

By the way, the water in no way alleviates your contractual responsibility to pay rent.  I am surprised though that he is going through the eviction process after only one late payment.

April 12, 2008 07:21 AM #6
Rainmaker
478,250
Ken Tracy
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Naperville - Naperville, IL
Naperville Illinois Real Estate

Hi Sara, Margaret, Neal, Cindy, Heather, and Donna.  Thanks so much for reading.

And for your comments.

He has not started the process.  He mentioned his lawyer told him they should send us a letter informing us the process has started.

Yes, I am one week late and this is the first time I have been late.

For further clarity, it is not a lake downstairs.  I just would not go in the laundry room unless you want to change your socks!:)

Ken

As far as members only.  Interesting.  I feel my openess is part of my charm.

 

April 12, 2008 07:46 AM #7
Rainmaker
152,334
Debra Kukulski, Broker Associate
RE/MAX Unlimited Northwest - Cary, IL
SFR,CDPE;GRI;ABR;e-PRO Realtor, Northern IL
Ken, it would seem you have some rights here, especially with the mold!  I would advise you talk to your attorney or maybe even your broker.  Good Luck on this.
April 12, 2008 07:46 AM #8
Rainer
9,221
Amie Varney
Prudential Verani Realty - Epping, NH
Ken, I have to say that Margaret, in my opinion, was right on.  We cannot give legal advice and as far as a Members only, I agree on that as well!
April 12, 2008 08:04 AM #9
Rainmaker
478,250
Ken Tracy
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Naperville - Naperville, IL
Naperville Illinois Real Estate

Hi Debra.  I thinks so to.  I woke up this morning and could not go back to sleep.  I get fired up.

Thanks for reading,

Ken

April 12, 2008 08:04 AM #10
Rainmaker
110,429
Nancy Brenner
Referral Associates of Georgia, Inc. - Roswell, GA
Roswell Georgia Real Estate Agent
Ken - I would call one of the Real Estate Lawyers that your office works with.  They'd be able to steer you in the right direction.  Good luck!
April 12, 2008 08:12 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,371,380
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, PLR - Austin, TX
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin

According to Judge Judy, you need to have a bunch of documentation.  Do you have written evidence that you have reported this issue to the landlord on multiple occasions?  If not, it becomes he said- he said and he could say this is the first time he's hearing of this.  If you have stuff in writing, that will put things into further perspective as he will HAVE to put that on a disclosure notice when he goes to sell or there's another law suit waiting to happen. 

Put something in writing about your situation, and then get a returned receipt from the post office showing it was delivered so he can't deny receiving it.  Include pictures.  I'm not an attorney, but I love watching Judge Judy's no-nonsense ways.

April 12, 2008 08:26 AM #12
Rainmaker
389,317
Kim Sellers
Lake Arrowhead, CA Coldwell Banker - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Lake Arrowhead Realtor - DRE#01412099 - Lake Arrow
Sorry for your dilemma.  That is a tough one.  There is the right and wrong for us as people and the landlord is wrong for not taking care of things.  For you, it is an object of money, you can't change that, but he can change the flood.
April 12, 2008 09:20 AM #13
Ambassador
1,654,555
Richard Weisser
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Coweta Newnan Homes for Sale

Ken,

Laws vary from state to state. Seek the advice of a lawyer ...period!

Under common law, a lease is an estate in land, which essentially means that YOU own the rights of use during the lease, and are responsible for the property.

In Georgia, (Where I live) your obligation to pay rent is paramount, regardless of the condition of the property.

Once again, check with an attorney.

April 12, 2008 09:23 AM #14
Rainer
54,699
Chad Baird
Re/Max Spirit - Dayton, OH

I tend to agree with Donna (I'm a Judge Judy fan as well).  Judge Joe Brown is clear on it as well. 

The rent needs to be paid, not to the Landlord though, but to a 3rd party in an escrow account of some sort.  In some cases to the courts directly.  Not sure how to set that up, its just advise from the TV JUdges. 

Good luck, keep us posted. 

April 12, 2008 12:29 PM #15
Rainer
208,480
Bob Cumiskey
A1 Connection Realty, Inc. - Sun City Center, FL
US Army Retired, Your Sun City Center, Florida ~ Realtor
Ken, I'm not sure how you are keeping your wits about all this.  I would be .... well, never mind on that.  I'm sure there has to be a law that he is breaking, and the mold seems to be a health department issue.  But, I wouldn't let the non payment go too long before trying to get some action done. Two wrongs don't make a right.
April 12, 2008 12:35 PM #16
Rainmaker
25,676
Leonard Thomas
RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs - Richardson, TX

Ken.  Your rights should be clearly and definitively stated in your lease.  In Tejas, it says exactly what a tenant should do when there needs to be repairs done and who's responsibility it is; I'd be surprised if it was different in your state.  I'm going to guess it starts with notifying the landlord in writing or the issues in need of repair (hopefully all four times it happened), which I imagine you've done.  Read the lease my friend, or post the lease and we'll all read it together and try to help.

Ken isn't our client and we don't have any fiduciary responsibilities to him (unless of course he's currently on the other side of a contract from one of you, then you only owe him fair and honest dealings!), we can give him all the legal advice we want (whether it's right or not is another story).

April 12, 2008 12:41 PM #17
Rainer
139,370
Harold "Hal" Place
A1 Connection Realty, Inc. - Sun City Center, FL

Morning Ken,

Sorry to hear of your situation(s). Not being from Ill., I have no idea as to what relief State law might provide. I sure would check out my rights real quick though. Whild doing so, I would also start looking for another place to live.

Good luck, keep us posted, knowing you, I am sure you will.

Enjoy the day.

April 13, 2008 06:15 AM #18
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
478,250

Ken Tracy

Naperville Illinois Real Estate
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