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Thread: Landlord not fixing water leak

  1. #1
    Email problem mother's Avatar
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    Landlord not fixing water leak

    I am SO frustrated, and I'm hoping someone could offer good advice on how to deal with this problem.

    I moved my business into new premises on the 1st of July. And when I say new, I also mean the building was brand new. When I first looked at the premises, I saw (what looked like) old water damage; just a few dry bubbles in the paint. The landlord explained that this was as a result of rains they had before they completed the building. At the time, the explaination seemed feasible, since there's a back door and toilet window where the rain could have blown in. Now I know he was lying.

    Within the first 2 weeks of us being there, it became very clear that the water damage was as a result of a leak somewhere upstairs. There is a load bearing column in the corner of our toilet (two sides in our toilet, and two sides in our shop) where water runs down continuously. I don't mean the wall is damp, I mean tiny streams of water run down all 4 sides of this column. And since our toilet is right below 8 stories of bathrooms, I can only assume that there is a plumbing problem in one (or more) of the bathrooms above us. For the life of me, I have never seen water running down through a slab (the ceiling) and down the wall. You can obviously imagine how we battle with mould in our shop, since this wall is wet, permanently.

    This is a photo of the column inside the toilet:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a photo of 2cm long mould growing on the outside of this column (in our kitchenette area):
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    And this photo shows how wet the outside of the column (in the shop) is. Where the dark yellow streaks are, the paint is actually "wet" again... if you touch it, you actually get yellow paint on your fingers:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last month I told him I feel it's only fair that I do NOT pay him the full rent, until he fixes the water leak. And he agreed. He then told me there is a problem with one of the toilets somewhere above us, and he will fix it immediately. It is a month later, and the water is STILL running down the wall.

    Should I worry that, over time, a leak like this could cause structural damage?

    Can I report this problem to an authority that would force my landlord to fix this leak?

  2. #2
    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    Structural damage will occur over time as the steel in the concrete becomes corroded and the pillars, beams or slab will loose structural integrity. This kind of damage usually occurs over a time frame of years but it can happen quicker and remedial action is not an easy task.

    The more immediate issue would be a health one. People die from mold and fungal spores. I would approach your landlord with the health angle and some mutterings of getting a professional health report if the problem isn't sorted pronto.

    *Edit* Nice avatar by the way, do you always wear safety goggles when using bubble gum :-)
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    Diamond Member wynn's Avatar
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    I hope the water is not coming from the outlet side of the toilet otherwise you will be in danger of major health problems, never mind smells!

    How do you clean your glasses after the bubble bursts?
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    Email problem mother's Avatar
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    Thanx Andy, I'll definitely use your advice. And I'll be sure to cough a few times while I talk to him, and add how my workers seem to be sick all the time, etc.

    Oh, and the photo was taken at a 60's theme party, during a blow-the-biggest-bubble competition. Hehehe, of course I won, but the next day my jaw musclles were so sore from chewing and blowing! And yes, cleaning the "safety goggles" afterwards was no fun at all.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Time to haul out your lease agreement, and go over it with a fine tooth comb, depending on how comprehensive it is, start looking for anything to do with maintenance, structural damage, health and loss of income.
    I would visit my lawyer to see what common rights as a tenant you have with respect to the lease you have.
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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    In terms of withholding rent this is a breach. Even though you have his verbal agreement, most leases have a clause stating that no changes/alterations are valid unless reduced to writing.
    The landlord has a responsibility to deliver premises and maintain premises that can perform the purpose for which they were intended, this includes being habitable. The health issue is the obvious route at this stage, safety may require some investigating and research.
    If you have the landlord saying he will fix the problem, you may want to keep on this track. If you start corresponding along these lines then you will be able to effect the repairs yourself in lieu of rent (not neccessarily ideal, particularly if structural elements involved), provided that sufficient notice is given.

    Perhaps a letter re-iterating your conversations and that is why the rent was withheld. Also that you feel in the circumstances you should not pay rent and will pay it into an attorney trust account pending resolution of the dispute. In the same letter try and coax him into admitting the issue at hand and that he will sort it out. Thereafter you can start advancing along the lines of if he does not fix it that you will have to do it. It is unhealthy, harming business etc, ect
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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