Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

“I understand that in general with joint several liability in a group house lease agreement, the landlord can hold any or all of the tenants responsible for unpaid rent.

In our current situation, 3 of us are moving out of a 4-bedroom house, leaving the 4th responsible for filling the rooms. We’ve been helping to fill the rooms, but it looks like some may not get filled with viable tenants by the end of the month. The landlord already said he’d be holding the remaining tenant responsible if that’s the case. Is there any recourse here?

Everything I read about joint and several liability deals with cases of other tenants not paying rent, not cases of multiple roommates who’d been on a month-to-month basis leaving. It just seems unreasonable to expect someone to be responsible for filling 3 rooms regardless of circumstances. Any help would be appreciated.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user LaTur

“Dear PoPville,

I wonder if anyone in the community has had a similar experience to advise on a situation I have encountered as a tenant. We lease a row house to a property management company that oversees our space (in addition to others) owned by a landlord living outside the country. We have been living here for about 2 years and have never been directly billed for our water use. The first several months of our residence we were continually receiving bills and delinquent payment notices addressed to homeowner, some of which included DC Water. After notifying the property manager several times, including expressively inquiring the status of the DC Water account, we were assured that it would be taken care of.

Our lease states that we are responsible for ‘individually metered’ water utility charges but the bills have since sopped arriving in our post box. However, we’ve just received a call from the property manager that the landlord has (only now) realized that he has had the water account setup to automatically debit the full bill amount from his personal credit card/bank account each month and has unknowingly paid for our collective water usage for over 24 months. (more…)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Shamila Chaudhary

“Hi there! I’m really hoping for some advice. I recently moved into a new apartment. I was living with a roommate in another apartment previously and we were both on the same month-to-month lease. In terms of moving out, I did everything I needed to: I informed my roommate months in advance, I gave 30 days notice to building management, ensured the rent was paid through my notice period, moved out at the end of the period, and left the keys. The remaining roommate had already identified a friend to move in (J). The landlord decided that he wanted to shift to a brand new, year long lease with J and the old remaining roommate. J applied for this lease and was approved. We all signed and executed the roommate addendum, which stated his official move-in date as December 1. Management said the next step was receiving his security deposit and fees, at which point I would have my deposit refunded to me.

However, just today I discovered that this hasn’t happened. (more…)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Jarrett Hendrix

“My husband and I bought a house in DC and wish to sublet or assign our lease. We do not have an early termination clause and are within the first year of our lease. Does anyone know our rights to “assign” or sublet our lease if the lease states the landlord cannot “unreasonably” withhold consent. We informed our landlord we are happy to host an open house, find multiple potential new tenants and pay for their credit and background checks but the say they’re traveling December and January and cannot accommodate our request.

We’re pretty laid back tenants and in the 8mo we’ve been here always paid on time, been responsive to the landlords so their unwillingness to consider the options we’ve presented is disapponting. Thanks for your advice!”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user weheaton

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a condo, as the Craigslist-found roommate of the condo owner. I have a lease with terms for paying X amount through June 2017. The condo owner informed me a couple weeks ago that she is going to have the closets and bathrooms renovated (which includes the closet and bathroom that I use exclusively), and that my rent will go up when these capital improvements are completed.

She pointed to a section of the lease that says “The Landlord may increase the Rent for the Property upon providing to the Tenant such notice as required by the Act [DC law].”

She will not give me a break on rent for the time in which I am not able to use the bathroom I am paying for, and this rent increase is taking place during the lease term, when I was obviously not expecting it. It’s a condo, so exempt from rent control.

Is this legal to do to a tenant during a lease? I am having trouble parsing the DC code on exempt housing. Next stop DC Landlord-Tenant Resource Center?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user District Shots

“Dear PoPville,

We moved to DC on October 28, into an apartment that is owned by a couple overseas and managed by a local real estate services company. Since the day we moved in, our shower has been broken. It only runs at 120+ degrees Fahrenheit or freezing cold. We let them know immediately and the issue is finally being fixed tomorrow, when they can shut the entire building’s water off. It will have been three weeks without us being able to shower in our apartment. We asked for a deduction in our rent ($25 for every day we haven’t been able to shower) and the real estate company said they will have to check with the owner.

We just want to know in case they come back at us with a “no”, do we have any sort of tenant rights here for rent abatement?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user super b

“I know people have posted before about extermination but I couldn’t find anything that quite fit our situation. My husband and I have been having issues with roaches in our apartment for the past 5 months. In theory the building’s treatment is thorough, but not working. We have to take EVERYTHING out of our kitchen and bathroom cabinets and they spray all of it. We’ve had to do this at least 8 times since June and it’s a huge inconvenience. My husband said someone from maintenance told him one or two of the nearby apartments are not complying with pest control and leave out pet food, which is obviously a huge problem. (more…)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mike Maguire

“I’m hoping someone who went through a similar situation might be able to offer advice or share their experience. Do we have a good chance of winning our case in small claims?

We moved out of our apartment in the middle of August. It was a 1BD/1BA condo, and we had lived there for 20 months. The people we hired to clean the place did a super awesome job, and we left everything in great condition. We had a pretty quick turn around between the moving, cleaning, and walk through because our landlord is currently living in another country, and he was back in the US for a limited time, during which he wanted to do the key exchange. So we didn’t have any time to do additional work, if the landlord pointed anything out.

We did the walk through, and the only things that my landlord pointed out were that there was a bit of pink mildew in the tub grout (like maybe an inch) and there were a couple places where the wall was scuffed; one in the closet and one in the hallway (and possibly the living room). These scuffs were pretty minor. The landlord pointed them out, said something along the lines of, “I’m not sure if I’m going to have to paint that.” Did not directly say he was going to charge us for anything. For what it’s worth, the apartment was NOT freshly painted when we moved in.

Forty four days later, he sent us an email saying that he needed to paint the apartment, and that it cost him $1000, but he was only going to charge us $500 because he realized that they had a part to play in keeping up the apartment. (more…)

tenant rights
Photo by PoPville flickr user Jordan Barab

“My trainer was telling me that she just received an $800 utility bill from her landlord. She lives in the basement apartment rental and a separate couple rents the house above her. The people upstairs control the heat/AC for both units.

The LL presents them with a utility bill for elect/water/gas every few months – split 3 ways (each actual occupant.) These bills are never itemized nor do they ever see the actual verifiable utility bill.

This most recent bill is for the last four months and each portion is $800!! Even if the total was $800 – that seems insanely high for four months.

They are fighting with their LL to see the actual bill. Is any of this legal? Im beginning to wonder if the LL keeps utilities. in his/her name for tax purposes.

Anyone been in a similar situation? Thanks in advance for your input.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a multi-unit (4) building which recently switched management companies. For the 4 years prior to this new management company, the old company maintained the shared living spaces like the front and back yards. Since the sale of our building, our yards have significantly overgrown and now resemble an unwanted and gross tangle of weeds and such resembling a jungle.

After complaining about the yards and asking for it to be explicitly written in our lease that the owner will take ownership over the maintenance of our shared lawn, the new management company– which actually is just a liaison between the tenants and the overseas owner (the owner has opted not to use their services for anything other than leasing and communicating with us)– recently informed us that they will not include it in our lease because it is a “courtesy” that the owner maintain the lawn. Is this normal, especially for multi-unit building of renters?”