Monday, December 18, 2006

Burnin' Down the House, Part Deux


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They're baaaack...

I mercifully spent very little time in Boston this weekend. I worked, then went down to Rhode Island for a friend's bachelorette. (From what I remember, which isn't much, the bride-to-be sent me careening into a table full of drinks and we got kicked out of that bar right quick, much to my drunken, slurred chagrin.) Sunday, my Mom and I watched QVC and cooked a chicken and some fixins. She dropped me off at the train and I uttered a silent prayer that I would return home for a quiet evening without rats or fires.

It's official: God hates me.

I checked my mailbox and two of my very kind neighbors, who I'll call English and Old-Timer, were milling about in the foyer of the building. One of them opened the front door to let me in. I said hello, and they asked me how my apartment was. I told them I'd had no further trouble with fires, but the rats were still present.

"Well, there was just another fire," English said.

"What? When?" I hadn't smelled any smoke when I walked inside.

"Just about twenty minutes ago," Old-Timer said. "It seems like it was another electrical fire."

From what I gather, someone was sitting around and noticed a fire in her apartment. The only reason my neighbors were aware there was a fire in the building was the noise of the fire department jimming the front door open and stomping up the stairs, hoses in hand. The fire alarm never went off-- my neighbor had to call 911 to get the fire department to show up. It seems to have been another small fire, but my neighbors showed me the plaster on the staircase from the fire department putting a hole in the wall. The neighbors were standing by the front door because the fire department had broken the lock and the front door wasn't securely closing.

"I called Irish to tell him to come fix the lock," English said of the landlord, "and he said he'd call someone right now. Which means he doesn't want to shell out to call a locksmith on a Sunday night and he's going to come fuck with it." English shoved the door into the jamb, then pulled on the doorknob. The door swung around in the jamb loosely and could easily have been broken.

"So we're in a building with no front lock and no fire alarms that has a history of fires and break-ins?" I asked. "Great."

"I have never seen it this bad," Old-Timer said. "I've been here for nearly six years and I've never had as many problems as we've had in the past few months. I knew Irish was a shithead, but this is just not safe."

"I'm on a month-to-month lease," English said, "so I'm going to try and get out of here as soon as I can." English and his girlfriend moved in the day after I did and we've both had it halfway through.

I told my neighbors about calling the housing inspector and my reservations about asking to break the lease since they're probably going to be pissed that I went over their heads.

"Actually, he may want to be rid of you since you keep causing him problems," English pointed out.

"The turnover here is really high," Old-Timer said. "I kind of want to warn anyone who comes to look at my place of the problems so the realtor doesn't sucker them into renting here."

I will publish a very virulent hate-post about the realtor that I used who suckered me into this place once I get a resolution to this problem. I hope he enjoys that huge fee I paid him in hell.

I went to sleep last night (fairly easily since I hadn't slept well on Saturday) and came into work with the newfound conviction to get myself out of that apartment. I called two legal services that the housing inspector had recommended. The news wasn't good.

My best bet is to try and get written permission from my landlord to get out of the lease. Otherwise, I can break my lease, but my landlord has the right to take me to court and sue me for the remainder of my lease (about $4000) and the onus is on me to prove that he broke the lease first by not providing a safe apartment. However, rats and fires alone do not an unsafe apartment make, apparently. One guy said it may work if I can prove the fire alarm didn't go off since that impedes the "minimum habitability" clause of the lease, but it would be a game of chance (one that could potentially cost me well over $5000, including deposits on a new place). The other service said if the landlord doesn't fix the problems in the inspectional services report in the set time, I can take him to court and try to get out. But my best chance is to ask to be let out. Which I would do now, but since my landlord is about to be served papers from my calling inspectional services, I figure it's not time to ask favors.

Goddammit. This is why I need a stinkin' boyfriend. Never mind love and sex: I just need a place to crash for the next six months.


Michael said...

Effing hell. You can't get a moments peace can you?Your landlord sounds like a real slime-job. Wonder how he likes his walls just catching on fire all of a sudden and HIS fire alarm not working.

Will think good thoughts swoon your way. Things cannot possibly get worse, but, also afraid they may :-(

Josh said...

My fiancee and I actually going to be moving out of our three bedroom apartment in Central Square in January and need to find some replacements (there's one other guy living here). I don't know if our landlord would want anything other than a year-long lease, but since it would at a really inconvenient time, who knows.

If you wouldn't mind living in Central Square, might be worth considering. josh at joshourisman dot com

margalit said...

I don't think you're getting accurate information. In fact, I know you're not. Call the housing inspector. By law, once the housing inspector finds ANY health code violations (rats count!) then the landlord has 30 days to repair the damage. If he doesn't do proper repairs so that it passes inspection, he is in BIG trouble. In addition, he cannot, for ANY reason, kick you out for 6 months. No retaliatory action at all. It's illegal and your landlord knows it. Plus, you can then strike a deal with him for monitory damages and he'll break your lease, give you moving money, and you can get the hell out of there.

Let me recommend a great (and free) attorney/professor from BC Law School. He's in Waltham, but he's good. Students will handle your case, but he oversees everything and represents you in court. I've been there and I got a great settlement out of it.

Alan MMinuskin
781 893 4793

Good luck, and don't forget my offer way back after fire #1.

Timmy Mac said...

Maybe you and your neighbors could just all agree to plug as much shit in as possible and then all head down the street and get a beer until you hear the sirens.