From the Forum – Water Damage, Need Advice

by Prince Of Petworth December 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm 6 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user kken

Water Damage, Need Advice:

“I will give a brief overview because I am not sure what to do or how to proceed (or if there are any other actions that I can take). In October, I discovered the ceiling of my roof was leaking and I filed a maintenance report and was informed the issue had been resolved. In November, the leak reappeared to the point where it soaked through my pillow and onto my bed. I filed another report and maintenance came in and inspected. Early December, it happened again and since this time I have moved my bed to prevent water damage. My bed is now blocking entry to my closet.

I followed up and was informed that they were working to determine from where the leak originated. Essentially the management reported that it was not the roof leaking; however, the ceiling in my apartment is still damaged; there are several water stains and the ceiling is cracking. I recounted the incidents in written form to my landlord and the response was “we are working to resolve the matter and the roof is not the issue.” I appreciate that the matter is “being worked on.” Nevertheless, this has been ongoing since the beginning of October and for the past three weeks my bed has been inside of my closet. I am trying to determine what my course of action should be. I know by DC standards the issue must be addressed but I am wondering if there is a clause that states it must be within a timely manner. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.”

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  • Abbey

    I don’t if this is helpful, but it seems to provide some guidance: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/district-columbia-tenant-rights-withhold-rent-repair-deduct.html

    It looks like you can provide your landlord with a notice of how long you will wait until the leak is repaired before you withhold rent.

    Here’s the DC government’s tenant survival guide, which seems to offer some solutions (via legal action): http://ota.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ota/publication/attachments/Tenant_Survival_Guide.pdf

    • A Landlord

      You are partially right. Assuming it went to court and you wanted any chance of winning you would need to continue to pay rent to an escrow account. Failing to pay rent due to work orders could lead to a messy battle. The landlord needs to be able to show they have made efforts to fix the problem. My biggest concern would be black mold. If this thing has been leaking for quite some time and they havent cut out the drywall and properly treated it, chances are you have mold. Black mold will make you very ill and can kill after prolonged exposure. First, have them cut out the drywall and see if it is even safe to be in there, Then in an attempt to find the leak have them run and faucets/ showers above you while someone else inspects the open drywall for leaks. If is isnt that, is this happening typically when its raining out? If so, chances are its a roof,siding,joint issue.

      Demand your landlord to lay out a plan in writing as to how the plan to provide a long term solution. Then after all this do not forget to ask for a rent credit. They will give you something just to shut you up. You shouldnt have to move your bed to accomidate their incompetence.

  • Hang In There

    I know first hand how frustrating water intrusion issues can be, but you may have to be patient. Water is never an easy thing to figure out since the source could literally be anywhere above you. And if it’s intermittent, then it’s even harder to figure out. Once they find the source, I’m sure they’ll fix it as quickly as they can. It’s not in anybody’s best interest to have water running freely through a building. If your ceiling is drywall, I would advise you not to sleep under it while it’s dripping since there is a chance it could deteriorate and fall. If it gets bad, you can always ask your landlord for something in return.

    • Anonymous

      This. Leaks are a landlord’s nightmare. They can come from anywhere and no matter how diligent you are, they can take a good while to find the source.

  • Anonymous

    I recently had a leaking ceiling problem. Turned out to be a faulty radiator in the apartment above me. Maybe that’s the cause?

    Don’t really have an answer for you, but what sped it up for me was a chunk of my ceiling falling down.

  • Anonymous

    It depends – are you aware of ongoing efforts to solve the problem, for example, have workers come to your place to check it, do you hear work being done above you, etc? If so, then I would just leave the landlord to work on it. However if you’re not aware of any work being done then you should write a letter to the landlord stating the problem and asking for a summary of what they are doing and when they expect to have it fixed, and just go from there. Leaks happen all the time. Absent other red flags they aren’t a sign of a bad landlord or a bad building. You just need to make sure the LL is working on it and, as others have suggested, you should ask for a rent rebate.


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