Tenants call 12 with repair questions

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Some tenants are living in apartments that haven't been repaired since Hurricane Irene hit in August. One family called 12.

A tarp covers the damaged roof. They want to know, when will permanent repairs begin? Some people get upset and withhold the rent when the landlord is slow to make repairs. But, not paying is a bad idea, and it could get you evicted.

There are specific steps to follow to get your landlord to make repairs.

Noah was one month old when Hurricane Irene ripped up roofs, causing ceilings to collapse in several apartments in the Falling Creek Complex, including his parents' home.

"It was leaking everywhere. Like all the little bubbles and dents and dings in the ceiling is where it was leaking," said Justin Martin.

Noah is now 3 months, and the ceiling is patched just as it was after the August hurricane.

"There's mold up there. They never got the water out. They just let it dry up. If you leave water in insulation, it's going to mold," said Martin.

Born with heart and gastro-intestinal problems, Noah has a home health nurse and is on medication for illnesses rarely seen in a newborn.

She and his parents are worried about possible health effects.

"We have to watch everything that goes on in his life, and especially the environment. Another thing about mold is that it can take effect over a long period of time," said Angie Poole, Noah's nurse. "When you have heart issues, you don't want to add a respiratory issue with that."

So, how do you get the landlord to make speedy repairs?

  • Give written notice of the problem.
  • Wait a reasonable amount of time.
  • If repairs aren't done, take the notice you gave the landlord and next month's rent to general district court clerk's office and file a rent escrow case.

You must be current in your rent.

"My rent is $459. They want $750 now because I didn't pay them rent for last month," Martin said. 'We both signed a lease. The complex signed it, and I signed it. I kept up with my half of the deal, so why can't they keep up with theirs and fix what's wrong?"

You cannot legally withhold rent to force repairs. You need to be current to pay your rent to the court.

I called Falling Creek Apartments' property manager for answers and was told four buildings were damaged. It's taken this time to get bids and schedule construction.  But, the property manager tells me four new roofs will be installed beginning Thursday.

"I just want them to fix my stuff, so I can get on with my life, or move me, or I'm gonna move," Martin said.

NBC 12 was on the phone with the property manager this afternoon. She and a maintenance worker went over to Martin's apartment right after the conversation. She told them in person that construction will start Thursday.

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