Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Help Me Howard: Landlord and Busted Door
It's not the "welcome home" you expect or want to see: burglars have busted in, trashing the place, your stuff is gone, but if you rent, who's responsible to fix the damaged door the crooks used for entry? You or your landlord? Here's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser with the answer.
WSVN -- Whether you own or rent, it's frightening to imagine coming home to see this...
Daniel Maldonado: "I drove in and noticed the door slightly open. You could tell it was not completely shut."
Daniel's front door was not shut because the burglars left it open and left his house a mess.
Daniel Maldonado: "The first floor was trashed, stereo was all over the place. The big screen TV was missing, 42-inch plasma."
Daniel immediately called Sunrise Police and went in with them to see the rest of the damage to his rented townhouse.
Daniel Maldonado: "When we went upstairs, the master bedroom was also completely trashed. All the drawers upside down, underwear and clothing all over the bed, jewelry missing."
Nearly $3,000 worth of stuff was stolen. When police checked with the neighbors, they all said they saw nothing, heard nothing. Strange because the crooks had to bust open a sliding glass door to get in.
Daniel Maldonado: "This window was completely smashed. They came in through it, and it came apart like Lego blocks."
Since Daniel rents, he immediately called the landlord, but he was as hard to track down as the burglars.
Daniel Maldonado: "I tried to call 24 hours, and I couldn't reach him. I sent him a letter."
While he waited for the property owner to replace the glass door, he put up hurricane shutters to cover the gaping hole. Then a few days later, he heard from the landlord.
Daniel Maldonado: "He told me that since it was not an act of God, not an act of nature, therefore, if I'm a resident, I should keep the place, and I should repair it."
Daniel didn't want to pay to replace the sliding door, but he could not live in a place without it, so he called a glass company.
Daniel Maldonado: "It was $350 initially, but the window guy was moved by the story and saw the damage to the place and he knocked $50, leaving it at $300. He even chipped in."
Even the glass company owner felt sorry for Daniel. Burglars took him for $3,000. Now his landlord was taking him for $300.
Daniel Maldonado: "Come on, it's his property. I'm keeping the insides safe and sound, but he should take care of that. That's what I think of it."
Daniel then told the landlord he was going to deduct the $300 from the next month's rent. The landlord told him you can't do that.
Daniel Maldonado: "Am I really liable for that? I don't see it that way. I'm not very fluent in the law, everywhere I look it's vague on this."
Well, Howard, the door is busted, who pays to repair it? The renter or the owner?
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, this is simple. Under the law, the landlord has to make sure doors and windows are secure and work, and unless the tenant causes the damage, it is the landlord's responsibility to fix it, immediately."
We went to the address where Daniel sends his rent check, twice. No one would open the door. Finally, their attorney called us and said her client had no proof Daniel was burglarized. When we asked why he never just asked Daniel for a copy of the police report, she said I assume there was a miscommunication.
After we faxed the police report, she told us her client would now be happy to reimburse Daniel $300 for the sliding glass door.
And if you have a problem with a landlord, Howard says there is simple step to take.
Howard Finkelstein: "No matter what problem you have, send the landlord a letter giving him seven days to correct the problem. If it's a serious issue, like no door or no running water, let the landlord know if he does not repair it immediately, you will deduct the amount from the next month's rent."
Daniel got his money back, but one thing is gone forever, his wife's sense of security.
Daniel Maldonado: "If she is upstairs and wants a drink, she won't do it herself, she will have me come first and turn the lights on. She's very scared."
Patrick Fraser: "We hear from a lot of people like Daniel who aren't sure about their renters' rights, so we dug up a web page that does a great job of explaining Florida's Landlord Tenant Law. Check it out before you sign a lease or if you are having problems with your landlord."
Renting a worry you would rather lease to someone else? Don't knock down doors, just contact us. We will bust through with help that is a real steal because it's free.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida's Landlord/Tenant Law