Jump to content
IssuesInProbability

35-9A-401 What are my chances

Recommended Posts

Issue: Odds / legality for breaking my lease, without further complications, in regards to the above clause, given the following information

 

Location: Homewood, AL

 

Situation:

      In early April I put in a work order with my apartment complex that there was a hole forming in the ceiling of my bathroom and that our AC unit was leaking again, causing mold to grow in both spots. Most obvious potential cause was a leak from the upstairs neighbor for the former and a clogged pipe for the latter. About a week or so later according to the complete work order from their systems, their maintenance staff came in, fixed a leak with the upstairs neighbor and drained a pipe for the AC, but called the issue good. I went back in a few days later since the maintenance staff had said that repairs to the ceiling like that would have to be done through a contractor, but no one had showed up or contacted me yet. I also went back in to ask about the mold issue in the utility closet. Unfortunately I don't have any documentation of that visit. I was told again that the ceiling would have to be scheduled through a contractor, and to come back in a few days if I hadn't heard from them. Now honestly, I should have simply started recording every conversation from then on out, but I was planning to leave when this lease expired anyways, and screw it, they'll have to fix the issue anyways when I leave, but with documentation I cant be held liable for it.

     Circumstances of course changed otherwise I wouldn't be posting here. I lost my job two months ago and blew my whole nest egg while trying to find another. During the course of the job hunt one of my friends mentioned that they were looking for a new roommate. I intend to move in with them when the current lease expires on October 31st, but my apartment complex has yet again been giving me the run around and trying to shaft me. The new job wasn't quite covering the entirety of my expenses and bills, so I am still hunting for a new one to either supplement or replace it. With this in mind I went to the office to get copies of the various work orders I had put in, and speak with them about how I could go about ending the lease, on October 4th. And this is where it starts getting interesting. Thank god I knew that Alabama is a one party state for recording conversations.

     When I went in, I asked to speak to the maintenance coordinator. After a few minutes I was brought back to her office and explained how I was looking for all of my previous work orders, because the hole in the ceiling of my bathroom still hadn't been fixed. 10 minutes of searching later she told me that she couldn't find any records of any work orders on my unit. Despite the leaking AC having been treated multiple times. Despite replacing the glass on the bedroom window when it got cracked. Despite the toilet leaking continuously at one point. Nope, there are no records of any repairs being done on your unit. She said that she would contact me in the next day or two if she found anything. This whole conversation was recorded. My first thought was maybe when they went under new management they purged the systems or shifted everything to different directories. Still terrifying though and I went to home and started looking up how to end a lease due to negligence since I thought they might be trying to pin the costs of any and all repairs to the closet and the ceiling on me. Hence the statute in the title. 14 days written notice of the issues, letting them know that if it isn't fixed the contract will have been broken from their end. So I went back to the complex and spoke to someone else, since by that point the maintenance coordinator had left for the night. I was recording again for this. Through the course of the conversation I asked her if she could search for the repair records. Again she couldn't find them. I explained that I was intending to leave the complex and that I don't want to be blamed for the mold and water repair issues, just a precautionary measure, again she couldn't find them.

    So I told her of all the various Issues in the apartment currently so she could create a new work order to have them fixed. Her response was that she would have to get with the maintenance staff in the morning to create the order since it has to be done by one of them, but she would be happy to write it out for me and take care of it personally in the morning. Wonderful! Written notice and I had said that I knew about the 14 day statute if the issues weren't fixed. Got her to write it up, the leak in the AC (again) the hole in the ceiling that had been there for months, the rotten woodwork and dry wall in the utility closet due to the persistent leak issue, and the mold throughout. She dated it with a note that she needed to get with the maintenance staff, and I had her scan and print a copy for me with her business card. She said either her or the maintenance coordinator would get back with me tomorrow about dates for the repairs, and I went on my way. If it gets put in the issues are fixed, but either way I can't be held liable for the extensive work they'd have to do to make it livable again.

     The next day after work I went in, recording again, and asked to speak with one of the managers about my lease agreement. This is where I found out about the 60 days notice for leaving the complex in my leasse. I got her name to start, then we sat down and started discussing my situation. The job hunt, not being able to afford the apartment soon, etc. She said that she understood, that if I submit a written notice now that I'd only have to cover the remainder of the 60 days notice, subtracting from now to when my lease was originally set to expire. Well... damn. Hit straight to the kidneys but I have little interest in being un-rentable in the future if I caused a fuss. Asked her if that was one lump sum and she said no, that it and any repair issues just have to be paid off within a year. Workable, since I'm saving money by getting a roommate. I could/can afford 80 or so a month to pay it off, just not the almost 800 plus water plus repairs that she quoted me initially in one lump sum. So in apprehension about the issues I knew of already, I asked her if there had been a work order put in about my apartment today.

     Of course not. Of bloody course not. So I yet again explained the mold, the hole in the ceiling, the leak in the utility closet, the rotting supports for the units in said closet. She sat down with me there and put in a work order for the leak and AC, but I got the same message about the ceiling. Needs to be handled by a contractor. Well, she had actually put a work order in with me there and printed it out for me. Considering that the hole is in my shower, and the amount of time that it had been there, I can understand the need for a contractor. Moisture had been getting in for months, mold was probably all throughout that crawlspace and they might have to rip a few of the tiles altogether. With a date set for the two repairs they could handle though, I sat down with her again and signed a notice saying that I intend to vacate on the 31st, that the termination fee was 789 not including water and damages, etc. The next day I got a call saying that a contractor was scheduled for Monday. Even better. Not perfect with the termination fee, but bearable. On the seventh, there was a notice in my appartment that maintenance had come by and fixed the AC leak. Better yet again. Maybe this will actually get fixed? Makes sense since they'll have to fix these issues to rent the apartment to anyone else. Maybe they're calling in someone for the mold too?

     On Monday the 10th I got back from work, and when I went to the restroom, noticed the ceiling had been 'repaired'. Their contractors version of fixing this, was to slap a patch over the hole and cover the whole thing with plaster, paint and stucco. Make it look pretty. I know this because when I noticed the lack of a hole, I went up and touched it, still wet. I then touched where the hole used to be and felt give under my finger. Incredulity. I got my phone and started video recording, showing the still wet paint and the give in the ceiling. Sure. If it had hardened I'd be none the wiser, but looking for the details I could see the lines where new paint had been put up, and feel where there was still firm drywall on either side of the hole in comparison to the hole itself. Incredulity gave way to being pissed. I walked over to the utility closet, and there was still mold and cobwebs throughout it. So they yet again ignored the mold issue, and 'fixed' the ceiling by covering it up without treating any damage that might have happened over the past six months. I have pictures and videos of the closet and the ceiling on the 10th.

     When I went to the office, recording again, I asked to get a copy of the completed work order that the contractor gave them when he fixed the ceiling, and was told the maintenance coordinator didn't come in today. I explained to whomever was there that the repairs were not repairs, merely cosmetics and explained the patch, the hole, and moisture issue all over again to her. She searched but couldn't find anything about my apartments work orders. Being pissed gave way to being contemptuous. I had a copy of the work order from the 5th and she cant find any in their system? It was either incompetence or a deliberate hindrance and I can't stand either. Went in the next day, she still hadn't shown up, and they said she might be sick, but the lady I had spoken to on the 4th, Ariel, was working, so I asked her about it and she searched the systems for me again. By some stroke of god we found all of my past work orders this time. Printed off the ceiling and ac issue from April, and another copy of the ac from that past Friday showing who had come in and that they hadn't fixed the mold. Was told that they would notify me when the maintenance coordinator came in, and they actually did on Thursday, but when I spoke with her she said that she would need to call the contractors and have it faxed over here, and to yet again, wait a few days. It's been two and will likely not happen until I go in either tomorrow or Monday. Where I will be told to wait a couple blasted days again.

 

     How much are they going to try to fob off on me when I leave this apartment? The cracked foundation in the floor? The rot and mold? Fiver or Lincoln every single missing light bulb, the screen doors and window screens that they never replaced, the peeling paint on the cabinets since they used cheap adhesive and the entirety of the cover on the cabinetry is coming loose? Steam cleaning the entire apartment? I'm honestly expecting them to try to truly shaft me come the 31st, even though my actual plan is to move in with my friend this Friday and spend a couple hours for a few days deep cleaning it. You can always find something wrong with an apartment, and with me having signed something saying I would pay the fees over the course of the next year... *shivers*

 

     So my question is this: With the pictures I have of the hole in the ceiling, the 'repair' they did to the ceiling, and the mold and rot in the utility closet. With the work orders we found from both April showing when these became issues and this months fixes. With my recordings of our conversations throughout the past two weeks. With my copy of the hand written form that Ariel did on the 4th, detailing all of the issues I have in the apartment that haven't been fixed yet by today, the 16th. And with my notifying the maintenance coordinator that I am aware of and willing to invoke the 14 day clause in the Alabama statutes for me to break the lease... Can I start moving my stuff, get everything as clean as I can, then head in and turn in my keys at any point after say the 19th, considering that's two weeks past when the manager put in her version of the work orders, citing all of this. Or will they try to say that it wasn't sent certified return receipt. I mean I have Ariel on mic when we wrote it out, and her log in is present on the print out of the work orders that I got on the 11th. Proving it was her, could go one better and try to get their video tapes from the security cameras showing when I went in. Mold is also a health issue by Alabama Housing codes... can't remember which one honestly. I also have recordings of me talking to at least 4 people about the maintenance issues in the apartment. I honestly feel that the recordings and copies constitute giving them the 14 days notice. But if I raise a stink and it falls short... if I get told that it isn't valid and they then immediately bring in more contractors... I feel that they will charge me for as much as they can possibly get away with, in retaliation. Well not retaliation, it was a cleaning fee, you did of course leave it in such disrepair Mr.Probability. They also might say screw this and not say anything when I bring in my keys, then when I don't pay anything next month take me to court.

 

     The least risky course is obviously to duck my head and just pay it over the course of the year, but I'm worried about what they might try to charge me with in repairs. What are my odds if they take me to court... how legal is my potential course to break the lease. I feel I have everything set up but I'm running around in circles wondering if there's anything more I need to do...

 

     Help? Willing to answer and any all questions not requiring identifying information.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Way too much for this type of forum. I didn't read it. If it takes that long to state your problem, then you probably need a lawyer.

 

The statute section you cited in your title addresses non-compliance by the landlord.

 

If you are sure that there has been "material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with Section 35-9A-204 materially affecting health and safety" and you have provided proper written notices with no success, then all you can do is pack up and leave.

 

As for "without further complication" that might happen but I wouldn't count on it. Prepare yourself for having to go to court if necessary. You might have to sue for your deposit or you might get sued for whatever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...