Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

For the past month or so, there has been a terrible odor coming from the fridge and freezer in the house I rent. My housemates and I have done everything we can think of to solve this issue- We have cleaned regularly and aggressively with bleach-based cleaners, used baking soda and fresh coffee grounds, used commercial odor eaters. All of these make the issue slightly better for some time, but the smell still persists in varying levels. We have checked for dead animals, that that water filter is properly draining, and there is no water collecting. The smell seems to be coming from the back of the fridge/freezer, but we do not have the tools to pull off the paneling. The smell has permeated our food such that we’re not using the fridge for much food storage anymore. Unsurprisingly, it’s also highly disgusting.

A few weeks ago, we reached out to the landlord for assistance with this issue. They sent a repair person, who said the fridge was working “perfectly” (…) and thus they had no further obligation to assist.

My question is: Are they right? My understanding is that the fridge is a fixture, and they are responsible for making sure the fixtures are in working condition. A smell that’s preventing us from using it seems like it’s not in working condition. But I’d like to have a better sense of my rights/obligations before I throw down the gauntlet with them. Who’s in the right here?”


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