Dispute over rental home repairs

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Can't get your landlord to step up and make repairs?  If you follow the guidelines, the law may be on your side.

Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide tenants with safe and livable premises. There are legal options if that doesn't happen.

"We've had 4 bats in the main living quarters of the home that I've actually had to kill. 2 were found in my youngest son's room," said Chris Worley who called 12 for help.

Worley paid a professional service to inspect the house he's renting. They didn't get any pictures of webbed wing mammals but there's bat dung in the attic.

"This is a picture of their droppings found in the attic. They said probably 12 bats in the attic roosting at some time. Their droppings from the other day, from the bats, are on this," he showed us.

The tenant says the company found 3 places that need repairs where bats enter and leave.

"The last one was actually hanging from my bedroom door right here," added Worley. "They're blaming me for the bats. Well maybe you leave windows open or your doors open."

The legal remedy to get repairs:

  • Be current in your rent
  • Give your landlord written notice of the problem
  • Wait a reasonable amount of time.

If repairs aren't made, take the notice you gave the landlord and next month's rent to general district court. File a rent escrow case.

"These are health risks for my family and I can't wait for a process," Worley said.

Such disputes often become arguments over upkeep. Owner Bill Davis tells me, Worley is trashing his house. Davis got his property manager to put the tenant on notice Wednesday giving him 21 days to repair broken doors and other things.

"That's water damage. That's my guess has trickled down to the downstairs where the big mold problem really is. But I'm being blamed for this. I was told I don't clean the gutters and it's my fault that this is in this situation," Worley said.

Worley has four children, two with special needs. He wants professionals to do the bat abatement and clean up. The landlord plans to use his regular help.

"My biggest concern is that it's removed properly. My youngest son with immune deficiency disease could get histoplasmosis and die," said Worley.

For problems like bats, call the building inspector and ask for an inspection. The landlord could be cited for code violations. In this dispute, the owner tells me, the lease is up in October and he wants the tenant gone.

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