TenantNet Forum

Where tenants can seek help and help others



Hole in the closet wall of bedroom

Issues unrelated to specific categories below

Moderator: TenantNet

Hole in the closet wall of bedroom

Postby Marcus Cato » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:59 pm

Hello,
We signed a lease recently on an apartment in NY state. Before we signed the lease we noticed a 30 inch by 11 inch hole in the closet in one of the bedrooms. We were told it is needed to have access to a water shutoff valve on the water pipes. There is also a sewage pipe running next to it. The hole was covered with a mesh with holes in it. The landlord told us they could shut if off with a panel. However, after moving in, when we asked if the landlord could install the panel they brushed it off saying that the pipes need venting (which makes no sense). There are several issues with leaving the hole open:
1) Strong possibility of mold growing there and us not even finding out about it.
2) Possibility of sewage & water pipe leaking and flooding the closet. As a result, we are afraid to keep our important documents, clothes etc there.
3) We hear the pipes run whenever the neighbour upstairs showers & flushes which is gross and noisy. I work from home and it is distracting and embarrassing to be on work calls where my coworkers can hear the flush.
4) Possibility of bad smell in the future.
5) Possibility of the materials from pipes being toxic to us. I can see one of the pipes has rusted badly and other seems to be made of lead.

We complained to the landlord harder and he promised to come two weeks from now to "have a look". The landlord does the maintenance himself on the property but I am not sure how skilled he is. It seems like any good handy man should be able to build and install a plumbing access panel that is air-tight (to prevent mold), water-tight (or provides flood-protection) and provides at least some level of noise insulation?

What are my rights as a tenant if the landlord cannot fix this to the requirements above? How long does the landlord have to fix this that is considered legally reasonable? Can I break the lease and leave, and expect they will give me the security deposit back?

There are other issues with the apartment such as mold in the closet, one of the fans not working, defective smoke alarm, holes in all of the screen doors, broken curtain, chipped paint and nail-holes in the walls, missing apartment labels etc which inspires minimal confidence in our landlord's attention to maintenance.

We moved a week ago and we still have not unpacked because we fear we will have to pack up again and leave and this has caused a lot of stress. Pls help!
Marcus Cato
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:39 pm

Re: Hole in the closet wall of bedroom

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:00 am

You posted in the NYC area of the forum, yet you say you are in NYS. Which is it? Any answer might be different. If in NYC, depending on the type of building, you should look to see if your unit should be rent stab. How many units in the building? How old is the building?

On the hole, are there pipes accessible in the hole? If so, are there any valves? Is the hole finished, i.e., square or rectangular with finished edges, or just something someone might have created with a sledge hammer?

Of course venting the pipes makes no sense.

Hearing the water run through the pipes ... well, that's what happens living in a multi-unit building. I hear my neighbor's shower every day.

The lead issue? That's usually for children, but I'm not an expert on lead.

It doesn't matter how handy the LL is. Sounds like this is a problem that must be corrected. You can give the LL some more time, but eventually you will want to complain. If you have a lease, then the LL can't just kick you out. Even without one, right now it might be difficult as the courts are jammed.

Can you just move? Sure you can. But don't expect a security back. And the LL might come after you for lost rent. It's not a given if he can get that - a longer discussion.

But it also seems your problem has more to do with the possibility of a future problem and not an existing problem.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9645
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Hole in the closet wall of bedroom

Postby Marcus Cato » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:31 am

Sorry, I am a new member and posted accidentally in the NYC area. I live upstate NY (Adirondacks). It is a multiunit building/home with 5 units. Not sure how old the building is but it seems to have been remodeled in 2010.

Yes, the pipes are accessible in the hole. There are a couple of valves. The hole has finished edges - rectangular (31 by 11 inches) and it is covered with a mesh that has small holes in them and screwed to the wall. I haven't taken out the mesh and looked inside to see if there is mold already growing in. Through the mesh I can see a black pipe (maybe PVC maybe lead, can't tell easily). I also see a copper/brass (rusted blue/green) water pipe w/ the valves.

Before the landlord covers the hole, should he check for the mold and clean it out or does an air tight panel possible? In any case, when he has to access the pipes, we do not want mold getting in. What is the correct fix here that I should ask for?
Marcus Cato
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:39 pm

Re: Hole in the closet wall of bedroom

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:36 am

If you're upstate, and if only 5 units, then you would not be rent stab. Some things are different in the city. And LLs often get away with more.

So it sounds as if this wasn't an accident, and was intended to be accessible. Perhaps a plywood cover would solve the problem.

As for what causes mold or how to test for it, we don't know. You should contact a mold professional.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9645
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Hole in the closet wall of bedroom

Postby Marcus Cato » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:54 pm

Thank you for the detailed answers. I had a couple of questions

1) What is legally considered "reasonable time" for the landlord to put a panel on the plumbing hole. It is a non-standard holed (too long for any standard panel you can buy from a store or online to fit) and he said he will come take a look next week. I know it is not super urgent like a water leak, but given it has mold in the hole, I was wondering what the state law dictates. There is also mold in a separate closet in a different room, which he said he will fix as well.

2) In case the issue is not resolved in reasonable time (legal definition or my own common sense definition) and we leave, would the landlord have the right to come up after the rent of the remaining lease term? I feel like the landlord would break the rule of providing the tenant a safe/sanitary place and hence would have no right to insist we pay rent for the rest of the year.

Thanking you in advance.
Marcus Cato
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:39 pm


Return to NYC General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 18 guests