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Landlord is a big slumlord, help?

Discussion in 'Commercial Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by Cyraz, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Cyraz

    Cyraz Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm just going to get right to the point, and if you're one to criticize the situation, please just don't comment: my family and I have been living in a house in suburban Utah for over a decade. We have always had issues with the landlord from the beginning. Initial problems stemmed from stuff as follows: he leased us the house, initially presented as a 6 bed, 4 bath house. The house looked clean, and, for the most part, in good shape. There were things initially that needed to be done but for the price, location, and the want to get away from our last location, it was too hard not to take. The issues raised pretty soon after: 2 of the bedrooms could not be considered bedrooms by fire code/law: both underground/basement type bedrooms, with one of the fire escapes being blocked by the upper house, and the other bedroom has the radiator in it. The bathroom that goes to these two bedrooms is tiny, hardly even passes as a bathroom.

    We have never been wealthy, or even really close to middle class. We are stuck in this predicament and it keeps piling on:
    -Landlord makes regular comments on how the house looks terrible but does nothing to fix it. So we know that he knows.
    - Windows leak, so it's always cold/hot, no middle ground, and most of them have cracks/holes in them.
    - Driveway is a wreck, probably was smooth concrete at one point.
    - Neighbors around us have called city code enforcement on the state of some of the things that we are not obligated/allowed to fix such as driveway, windows, roofing, etc. They say it does not work with all the other houses in the neighborhood being nice.
    - Pretty sure the contractors that the landlord hires to do "replacements/repairs" are not even licensed in any degree (cutting up walls next to outlets for literally no reason, then doing terrible jobs at fixing them).
    - One of the bathrooms has no ventilation in it but is 1 of the 2 bathrooms that has a shower, so mold has grown on the ceiling around and on some of the walls. We fought this as much as possible but it was to no avail. Landlord had a "contractor" come to repair it who literally just painted over it (Out of sight, out of mind, I guess). Lo and behold, the mold has come back.
    - Toilets hardly can flush a piece of toilet paper without needing to be plunged
    - Fence is falling over into neighbor's properties
    - No working fire alarms
    - Some doors have holes in them from accidents over the years
    - Counters are chipping away in places.
    - Oven handle is missing (he put a new oven in around 5 years ago {cost appx 300$}) and some of the burners haven't worked from day 1.
    - Really cheap dishwasher that doesn't wash dishes properly (Oh, and the contractor that put that one in decided to take a large 6in chunk out of the counter that they didn't bother replacing).
    - Radon is a serious issue around here, especially with houses with basements below the ground level, and landlord is not willing to test or put in any mitigation equipment for that.
    - Put in the smallest central A/C I have ever seen. Costs around $400 to run it during the summer to keep our house cool. We resorted to using window A/C units, and the landlord told us to take them out because it makes us look like a "slum".
    - Much, much more.[/SPOILER]

    The sad part is is that we have a plumbing/HVAC/electric contractor in our family and they did that line of work for 38 years. They see the subpar "repairs" that we get. Landlord randomly asks us to do walkthroughs (i.e. won't bother to come for 3-4 years, then comes 1 year and repeats the cycle). He IS aware of the repairs and the quality of service that we get. So much so that he now is deciding to push us onto month-to-month instead of a lease. This comes with rising rental costs because that's apparently what other houses are rented out for around here, according to him. But our house is in disrepair and falling apart at the seams, so it seems unfeasible that it's worth that much a month. He won't connect us with the actual homeowner and instead just acts as a middle man. The homeowner has never been to the house in the 13+ years we have been here.

    Family and friends know of our predicament and sympathize with how bad this guy is. We have talked informally with lawyers about the issue, and have had building code inspectors check out the place and say that something needs to be changed. All this has been passed onto the landlord, and although we try to do our little repairs here and there and keep the house in as stellar shape as we can, he doesn't budge. He knows we have dirt on him in some cases, and could possibly take him to court. What I'm here to ask is if it's worth paying attorney fees and battle this out and what our options are.

    Landlord knows that the house is in terrible shape and it's his obligation to fix it, but refuses to. We try to keep it as good as we can but some things seriously need to be fixed and he won't let us. Building code enforcers have been here and said it's not up to fire code or other statutes, and supposedly have sent him letters about it. Hardly anything is done around here courtesy of landlord and if it is done, it is usually worse off than it was before. Is it worth it to try to fight it in court, paying all those fees? I am aware that Utah is one of those states that is somewhat lenient when it comes to tenant protection.

    Thank you for any help/advice.
  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    When your lease expires move out.
    Zigner likes this.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You can find out the name and address of the property from the County Assessor property records.

    Was the property owner ever issued a citation for a code violation? If no, then that doesn't do you any good.

    Sorry, but your best option is to relocate at the expiration of your lease or rental agreement.

    Only you can make that decision.

    Read the Utah Fit Premises Act, especially Section 6 - Renter remedies for deficient condition of residential rental unit.

    2018 Utah Code :: Title 57 - Real Estate :: Chapter 22 - Utah Fit Premises Act
    Michael Wechsler and Zigner like this.

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