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Landlord - No maintenance plan

Posted by Erika on July 30, 1997 at 15:23:03:

I live in a building that is rent controlled/stabilized. There are 8 apts in the building, 2 of which get market rent. One of those apartments is mine. The landlord bought the building a few years ago because he ran a restaraunt on the ground floor. The rent for it was outrageous and it was cheaper for him to buy the building as is, than to continue to rent.
Now that you have the background.
My apartment is in terrible disrepair. It is an apartment in a neighborhood that is quite expensive located in a central location. The rent is cheaper than average, but a little high considering it's condition. When I moved in with my boyfriend, the landlord was reluctant to remove someone else's name off the lease and put mine on. Essentially, his attitude is, as long as I get my rent money, you can do what ever you please.
If there is a problem in the apartment, we can call this schmo that does work for him and have it "fixed." A good example of this is that our bathtub leaks because it needs new cauking. The shmoe comes in, doesn't listen to a word I said, takes the pole apart and puts it back together and says it is fixed. This irritated me to say the least, because essentially it means I still can't take a soak in the tub. To make matters worse, when I attempted to take a shower, the pole came flying off at the joints. My boyfriend fixed it with some horrible looking goop that I suppose I will have to live with.
The landlord has essentially told us that anything we do to create a better environment in the apartment is best left to things we can "take with us when we leave." That's just fine and dandy if the essentials are in repair. But what if they are not and you don't want to live in a slum?
We have spent quite a good amount of money already making it habitable. We had to get a toliet kit to and replace that because we are afraid to let the schmoe do any more work in the apartment. If we want a fire alarm, we have to buy it ourselves. If we want floors that don't have tiles coming up, we have to buy them ourselves. We bought some tiles for our own sanity. We tried to judge cost vs. quality to get something reasonable that wouldn't fall apart or crack withing the next few years of residence. Eventually we plan to have the floors restripped. Believe me when I tell you this is not something we want to spend money on, but there is only so much you can put up with. The floors had been painted in various layers, each a different color. Essentially, some parts of the wood floor are white, some light blue, some tan, and some black. Clearly this is a truly awful thing to have to look at day in or day out.

So the cost of these things... if the landlord is not willing to absorb the costs of these things, let alone our time for the labor, is this an acceptable leverage to avoid a rent increase? We have enough expenses as a newly formed couple and this is truly a strain. But at the same time, one needs to feel happy in their apartment. If we were to leave, the landlord would be able to rent at a much higher price because the apartment would be in much better shape. My boyfriend assures me that this landlord is a nice guy, and someone he has known in the neighborhood all his life. He says he isn't going to screw us over. So do you think these expenses are justifiable to deduct from any rent increase for the future?

Any comments would be appreciated.

PS: The lease goes for renewal next year, and my boyfriend is talking about not renewing it, and living month to month.
PPS: If my name is on a cancelled check for the rent, does that legitimize the fact that I live there too?

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