Thursday, January 31, 2008

Renter's Rights? What renter's rights?

So yeah. My house has no heat. Which is just INSANE, especially since our landlord and his assistant have absolutely no interest in actually caring about us. The heat went out Tuesday afternoon, when the furnace nearly blew up. J, one housemate, immediately called our landlord, his assistant, and the furnace guy. She could get the furnace guy’s number because rather than our landlord actually DOING his job, he’s been trying to get us to organize switching furnaces. Which has led to T, another housemate, spending hours upon hours calling back and forth between the oil company to get them to drain the oil they stupidly put into the tank after we told them not to, our landlord to try and make sure this lack of heat didn’t happen, and the furnace guy when what our landlord said made no sense.

But yes. Furnace nearly blows up, heat gets shut off. Now by Virginia landlord tenant laws, the heat going out in the winter is an emergency situation and the landlord has to either fix the heat or provide some kind of amenable situation within 24 hours. Ha. See, the problem is that all the laws have been set up to protect the landlord. There is no kind of emergency, “my landlord is an ass” type service where you can call them and they will force him to do something. No. Instead what you get is a bunch of rigamoral, no grand collection of information, no list of “here’s what you can do if your heat goes out and your landlord doesn’t care.” Instead, after much research, you find out that you can go to court, file a complaint (at the charge of $50), and try to get something done. You can also terminate the lease, but who wants to move right now?

Our landlord is in California. His assistant cares mostly about only working part-time and covering her butt. Over the course of many phone calls over the past two days, we have been blamed for a. not scheduling the changing of the furnace (um. Not our job.) b. not calling her back when the one person she actually deigned to call didn’t have time to get back to her, c. being mean and cranky about the fact that WE. HAVE. NO. HEAT. And d. not informing landlord about my cat, when we did, he’s seen her, she’s on the application… We were also told, when we brought up that it was going to be pretty freaking cold, that we could a. leave on the lights all the time and b. buy ONE space heater for the whole house.

The thing that really sucks is that they are going to completely get away with this shoddy treatment of us. We’re all tempted to bring in our parents and let them yell at him, mainly for the satisfaction of him getting yelled at by someone he may actually respect, but beyond that? The system is stacked against us. It’s ridiculous that we can be treated so shoddily with no real recourse. This guy keeps on taking advantage of us and there isn’t a huge amount we can do. Big stinking jerk.