Landlord Breaking Safety Codes?
Hi all. I've been living on St. Thomas for a few months in a year long lease and believe that my landlord is breaking several code violations, but I can't find much online to help back up my suspicions. Any resources would be very much appreciated.
Some things that have happened that the landlord refuses to fix because it costs money:
- Major flooding from the upstairs for two months straight whenever it rains
- Flooding from a closed window pouring into an electrical outlet causing arcing electricity (VERY scary with puddles of water on the floor from said flooding)
- Exposed wires in at least three places, one of which is in a shower
- Intermittent (at best) hot water in the kitchen sink
- Non working shower in the second bathroom and no hot water at all in there
- Frequent ant, roach, and mice problems despite keeping our place clean, spraying for bugs, and putting out mouse traps ourselves (they refuse to treat for any vermin, but will allow us to at our expense)
Some things the landlord preoccupies himself with because they are "free":
- Painting our doors and shutters
- Reworking the garden (and disturbing all the ant colonies)
- Grouting the tile work on the upstairs pool
In addition to safety concerns, we were promised A/C, a working generator, and a generally finished apartment within a few months. We basically live in a construction zone and our landlord is working on something in our apartment everyday. We are reaching a point beyond frustration and just want to know what steps to take to make stuff get fixed in a reasonable time frame.
What's in your lease? Building codes are normally enforced during permit inspections, not at other times unless for a business. Short term rentals are considered a business but not long term. Someone else had a similar thread a few months back with comments. Apart from specific lease violations you may be out of luck.
Take lots of pictures and videos of all the problems. Document the expenses incurred by water.
Start looking for a new place to live.
Stop paying rent and establish an escrow account for it instead.
"promised AC etc." - unenforceable unless in writing
Explain to the landlord your concerns in writing - date it, make copies and have him sign them.
keep any correspondence between you and him in writing, texts, phone messages or document the conversation and have him sign the transcript.
After you have found a place to move to -- move out - if he decides to take you to small claims court make sure you have evidence of all the problems and attempted solution on your part..
I am not a lawyer - you might consult one formulating your plan - I am a landlord.
You might go to DPNR and inquire about the building permit and CO for your apt. and explain the dangerous situation with electricity and ask for help or an inspection.
If my tenant had those problems and responded with the measures I mentioned I would be happy they were gone and change my ways before I got sued for an accident.
Don't mind at all. We viewed the apartment once, where we did see things that were in progress, but we assured they would be finished within a reasonable time frame. That was our mistake not getting that in writing. Other things we have found along the way, like the exposed wiring and flooding after signing the lease. Monthly price is $3000 all utilities included, which is why I'm so frustrated at the lack of A/C and generator. Those were huge factors for me deciding to move into this place.
There is a very little in the lease (which is written for the state of Massachusetts) regarding construction, so again, our bad on not getting anything in writing. What I DO know is that they are violating Massachusetts safety and housing code, but I cannot find any similar resources for the VI.
I should also mention that my landlord is going through foreclosure, and we may not have this landlord for long. We're kind of waiting that out to see if the bank becomes our new landlord, if they try to buy out our lease, or what.
Collect the evidence. Take photos and video. Heck, with permission, record conversations with landlord. Get a lawyer, stop paying rent, as suggested place in escrow account, Sue to get your money back. Find new place to live. Not sure what the eviction laws are in the VI but in the States, the legal proceedings takes months.
Eviction proceedings can take forever here.
I just don't understand why, with all your complaints, you don't seem to wish to move.
Indeed, take pictures, document interaction in writing with landlord, go to small claims court, if necessary as well as things recommended by others above and move on.