Legal/landlord issues... Is it me or my low flow toilet??!!

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Dana

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Write down what each plumber told you and the approximate date & time those statements were made. Be as detailed as you can about their statements. Write down what you believe each of the plumbers did while they were on site, and on what dates. It may be awhile before you would have to make statements in court, and it's easy for memories to become conflated and change over time. The accuracy of your recollection today will be much better than 2, 3 or 6 months from now.

If the drain downstream of the toilet has issues and it wasn't the old toilet, replacing the toilet alone usually won't fix it. If the new toilet overflows, document that too.
 
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She did not like that answer
The assumption here is that you are omitting some truth behind this matter. Again, it wasn't smurfs or gremlins that blocked your toilet, you may have done something to cause it. I'm certain nothing was intentional, but you are responsible for it. Even this thread is all one-sided with your "story". I'd like to hear what the other 3 plumbers will say in court. I'm sure you may try your best to write down what you thought you heard the plumbers said, but the landlord will produce written and signed testimonies from each the plumbers.

we must've broke the toilet from hitting it very hard
Who else lives in your rental to point this blame to?

When he returned was when he was not allowed to speak to us or answer any of our questions.
He wasn't obliged to acknowledge you for anything. He doesn't work for you. He works for the landlord. There has been times where I too have been given strict instructions not to speak to anyone on a job site about work I was doing. It actually wastes my time, breaks my concentration, and I work for the one paying me.

And then she refused to supply ANY of the invoices to me
She doesn't have to show you anything. She hired and paid those plumbers, not you.

I'm not sure what you are trying to gain here prodding for legal advice over the internet. It's nice that we other readers in the forum here can sit in the comfort with our touchpads and read this thread without worry of getting sued, it is easy to spit advice out when we aren't the ones that will pay the consequence for it.

If you haven't any local counsel, really should find one. You might not need a lawyer in a small court, but they will be helpful to help you win.

I also believe it is a good time to find another place to move into. Hopefully with a landlord that isn't a bully over the weak.

The three scenarios here are:

You are aquitted from paying any money to the landlord, and move out.

You are aquitted from paying any money to the landlord, and stay. Oh, the landlord will find other ways to get their profits from you. Losing $5000 sucks.

The decision is granted to the landlord to collect $5000 from you, and you stay, since you like to "live in a upscale housing addition, and love the home". Landlord profits.
 

Jadnashua

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I wouldn't pay any bill without an itemized listing of what it contained. If the amount of time spent is typical, each visit was probably no more than $3-400. Throw in a new toilet, maybe another $3-400, so three visits and a toilet, maybe $1600. Swapping a toilet, if all you're doing is just that, new bolts, wax ring, maybe a new shutoff and hose, unless they used a fancy toilet, maybe give the toilet plus parts $500, but if bought at someplace like HD, probably half of that. I really can't come up with $5000, let alone even half of that.

The landlord sounds like a PITA, and I'd move out as soon as I could. If you didn't take pictures of the move-in conditions, after cleaning the place when you leave, take detailed pictures of the conditions so you have some basis to refute any charges the landlord may try to assess. Normal wear and tear excepted, if it's clean and not broken (or at least in the same state as when you moved in), you should get the entire deposit back.

It's a pain that there are people out there like that...move on, hope for better the next time.
 

Koa

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[QUOTE="standardairconditioner, post: 487818, member: 72218]


She doesn't have to show you anything. She hired and paid those plumbers, not you.

I'm not sure what you are trying to gain here prodding for legal advice over the internet. It's nice that we other readers in the forum here can sit in the comfort with our touchpads and read this thread without worry of getting sued, it is easy to spit advice out when we aren't the ones that will pay the consequence for it.

If you haven't any local counsel, really should find one. You might not need a lawyer in a small court, but they will be helpful to help you win.

I also believe it is a good time to find another place to move into. Hopefully with a landlord that isn't a bully over the weak.

[/QUOTE]

Of course the landlord must provide an accurate written accounting of why she it is demanding she pay $5000. AND since the tenant is being asked to pay for the repairs the plumber is now basically being paid by the tenant so she has every right to see and question charges.

She never asked for legal advice here. She asked plumbing questions. My posts point her in a direction of self help. You say don't get legal advise on a plumbing site but advise her on three likely legal outcomes?

I don't see the OP as weak as she and her husband are taking the first steps in trying to understand technical aspect of a clogged toilet. But her posts indicate that the landlord is trying to take advantage of their tenants and not provide share of maintenance.

A landlord might get their mortgage paid by tenants but tenants do get out the upkeep of the unit they are renting unless they damage it in some way.
 

Widgit Maker

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When you get into small claims court you will be encouraged to go to arbitration. I would do so. My position in arbitration would be, " You compensate me $xxx.xx for the lack of heat or I will move this case to General District court".
If she refuses, I would do just that.
Rest assured she will fold when she has to pay for an attorney and possibly have to pay you. You need to give her something to loose. Right now if she wins, she wins money, if she looses she has lost nothing but a little time. Your compensation for the lack of heat should pay for your attorney.

BTW, this is not legal advise, its strategy advise.
 
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Jadnashua

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What state are you in? In some places, replacing a toilet requires a permit and inspection. I doubt that was done, but may not have needed to be done. Without knowing where you are, this may or may not apply. In some states, MA is a mean example, a homeowner is not allowed to do any plumbing work on his home unless he is a licensed plumber, the parts used are on the state's approved list, and a permit is pulled, depending on what is being done. My guess is, the person that did the work was probably not licensed. That alone could get the landlord in trouble in some places.
 

WhittneyG

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Thanks everyone for their feedback, even the slightly aggressive negative feedback.... lol.

We are in the process of locating a local licensed Plumber to have come by, so we can get his take on the issue.

My home owner stated, in an email, that the reason we are now having to pay for every plumber bill and the repairs to the kitchen ceiling, is because the toilet overflowing issues were caused by us hitting the metal tubing that connects the toilet to the wall.
My husband and I do not believe what she is accusing us of is accurate, and even possible, and hopefully we can get a licensed Plummber to produce the documentation we need to support our own documentation, which will further prove our homeowner's dishonesty and manipulation.
We have always told our homeowner, if we damaged anything in this home due to our negligence, we would take responsibility.
If you are a homeowner, who only want to receive the income, but have no intent on making needed repairs... ON YOUR PROPERTY, then you need to sell your home and not rent it.
 
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Thanks everyone for their feedback, even the slightly aggressive negative feedback
The title of this post reads "Is it me or my low flow toilet?", and that means you are inviting opinion that can sway one way or the other. In reply to the question in the thread topic, my answer is: it is YOU. If you don't like "slightly aggressive negative feedback" from strangers on the internet, don't ask to begin with.
hopefully we can get a licensed Plummber to produce the documentation we need to support our own documentation
You want to get your own plumber's hearsay, your plumber who has never worked nor set sight on your landlord's property, to decide what may have or not have been done, vs. 3 testimonies of the landlord's own plumbers, witnesses who all worked on the property?
We have always told our homeowner, if we damaged anything in this home due to our negligence, we would take responsibility.
This is on of those things where if it wasn't mentioned by the landlord in the rental agreement, then you really should have never appended your open terms to it. You've basically exposed yourself to be liable for anything and everything that does and can happen. This is why you are being sued. The landlord believes you have "damaged anything in this home due to our negligence", and expect you to "take responsibility".
If you are a homeowner, who only want to receive the income, but have no intent on making needed repairs... ON YOUR PROPERTY, then you need to sell your home and not rent it.
You are in absolutely no position to dictate what property owners and investors are to do with their money or motives.

It's their investment. They can do whatever they want, including suing the tenants.

Your only choice is to either rent from them or not.

Found a new place yet?
 

Jadnashua

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If the supply tubing between the wall and the toilet was loose, it would leak and it would be obvious...you would not have to flush the toilet to cause it to happen, as it would be leaking as long as there was water pressure. It has absolutely nothing to do with the toilet overflowing.
 

Koa

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The title of this post reads "Is it me or my low flow toilet?", and that means you are inviting opinion that can sway one way or the other. In reply to the question in the thread topic, my answer is: it is YOU. If you don't like "slightly aggressive negative feedback" from strangers on the internet, don't ask to begin with.

You seem like the one who has a problem with feedback. She added a lol after her statement.

You want to get your own plumber's hearsay, your plumber who has never worked nor set sight on your landlord's property, to decide what may have or not have been done, vs. 3 testimonies of the landlord's own plumbers, witnesses who all worked on the property?

Her plumbers statement/testimony is not hearsay, it's his testimony. She can have his statement notarized or have him as a witness.


This is on of those things where if it wasn't mentioned by the landlord in the rental agreement, then you really should have never appended your open terms to it. You've basically exposed yourself to be liable for anything and everything that does and can happen. This is why you are being sued. The landlord believes you have "damaged anything in this home due to our negligence", and expect you to "take responsibility".

No, it doesn't. She already is liable for any damages due to her negligence, nothing more. Even if she has damaged something the landlord will need to prove she did.

You are in absolutely no position to dictate what property owners and investors are to do with their money or motives.

Sure she is. If the owner is not maintaining the property in accordance with the lease and landlord/tenant code. They can choose how to spend their money but they will be responsible to maintain the premises since they are choosing to rent out the house.

It's their investment. They can do whatever they want, including suing the tenants.

Not legally. There are consequences for doing "whatever they want".

Your only choice is to either rent from them or not.

That goes without saying. She needs to defend herself against the landlord's absurd claims.

Found a new place yet?

Have you ever been a landlord or spent any amount of time in court? Most of what you say goes against my experiences as a landlord and spending a little less than a year in small claims and district court, both with and without an attorney, with multiple judges, plus helping an attorney investigate landlord/tenant issues for a few years as a favor. I have no experience with the Canadian legal system so maybe your experience is different than mine. I'm probably the only one to win a judgement and actually received full payment from my tenants who were highly skilled in the legal system and basically psychopaths. After losing to me they scammed a bank and mortgage company out of over $300k, two car dealerships, another $50k, furniture store and private school $15k. Moved to mainland and set up fake attorney offices and scammed many more people. They were very traceable on the Internet and have done much damage to many people while avoiding jail. The list is long. I do speak from experience... Unfortunately.

It sounds like the landlord has gotten away with bullying tenants into paying for things they are not responsible for. There are so many things she is wrong and really stupid about in demanding her tenant pay for these repairs. This is only my opinion based on what the OP has related in her posts. I choose to believe her since that's my nature. It also got me a year in court with my psychopathic tenants.

To the OP... If you end up in small claims, you want to be very well prepared to give precise accurate testimony in a short period of time. The judge is looking to get through as many cases as possible. If you have time, go sit in on a few small claims court cases to get a feel how everything works. I'd also look up your landlord's name in the court records to see if she has any judgements against her or awarded to her. Info should be online with the state or city and their websites.

If that toilet was twenty years old it basically had no value. There's no way you are responsible for the full replacement cost assuming you did break it. The landlord is responsible for all supply lines, valves etc. The landlord needs to prove you damaged it causing it to leak. Assuming you did... Did the water just leak on the bathroom floor and you were fine with walking in a puddle? If the supply line is in the floor before the valve, just how did you knock hard enough to cause a leak assuming it was attached securely per code?
 

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We were on Vacation, and came back to find our kitchen ceiling was leaking water all over our kitchen floor. We went upstairs and our carpet in our bedroom and closet which is next to the bathroom was soaking wet. THERE WAS NO WATER IN THE BATHROOM OR ON THE FLOOR. It was 11pm, but I still contacted my homeowner that night. We called her again 6am the next morning. Her first statement was, "you guys must've turned the heat off while we were gone and froze and busted a pipe". She then told us to cut our water supply off (Which she made us turn off for over 24 hours because the plumber couldn't come til the next day).
The landlord came over that morning, and was here with my husband and myself off and on for about 5 hours that day. She was pleasant, that day. Her and my husband worked upstairs for several hours trying to dry out the carpet. She pulled the carpet up, left and went and bought 2 industrial dryers and a carpet Shampooer. She poked holes in the kitchen ceiling to let the excess water out.
The plumber came the next day and that's when he mentioned the messed up Supply line, and he put in a new one.
There was no water anywhere in the bathroom floor.
Then about a week or so later, the toilet overflowed... Then the plumber came again and said it may be the flapper, so he replaced that. The landlord, was not so pleasant this time. She asked him to run a snake to see if we had put anything in the toilet. He did and didn't find anything.
About a week later, it overflowed again. We had stopped using that bathroom, just for precaution, but after almost a week, we finally did use it and it overflowed.
Landlord, was mad now, and told us she would not be paying for this next plumber visit because we must be putting stuff in the toilet. When the plumber arrived (3rd time), we asked him, in front of the landlord, if he knew what was wrong and if he thought we were damaging the toilet, he said no to both questions. The landlord said, for us not to bother the plumber and that she would pay the bill.
The toilet overflowed again, that day while they were still there. The next day, the drain specialist arrived with a 10 foot snake and found nothing.
Late that day, the plumber said that she was ordering a new toilet and it would be there in 2 days.
The day of installation, was when she ordered the plumbers not to speak to us or answer our questions. After the plumber left, the landlord sent us an email stating several invoice amounts and stated we had hit the toilet very hard, broke it, which caused all of the issues and we had 10 days to pay for everything.
It does stated clearly in my lease, that unless we are negligent in damaging something, the landlord is responsible for all major repairs, including, electric, heating and air conditioning, plumbing and all major appliances.
 

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Then about a week or so later, the toilet overflowed... Then the plumber came again and said it may be the flapper, so he replaced that. The landlord, was not so pleasant this time. She asked him to run a snake to see if we had put anything in the toilet. He did and didn't find anything.
About a week later, it overflowed again. We had stopped using that bathroom, just for precaution, but after almost a week, we finally did use it and it overflowed
When you say the toilet overflowed, do you mean that water was overflowing from the bowl (the part you sit on) or do you mean that you just found water on the floor. The implication is that something happened when you were not in the bathroom.

Did you ever hear this toilet come on and go off when not being used.
This toilet is on the second floor. Are there any floors above the second floor. Are there any other water using devices on the second floor other than the sink and tub or shower in this bathroom?
 
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WhittneyG

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When you say the toilet overflowed, do you mean that water was overflowing from the bowl (the part you sit on) or do you mean that you found water on the floor. The implication is that something happened when you were not in the bathroom.

Did you ever hear this toilet come on and go off when not being used.
This toilet is on the second floor. Are there any floors above the second floor. Are there any other water using devices on the second floor other than the sink and tub or shower in this bathroom?

The toilet overflowed from the bowl.

There is no other floors higher than the second floor. Thee is another bathroom on the 2nd Floor. That toilet is rarely used, but the water comes very high whenever flushes and actually flushes twice every time.
That toilet is also 20 years old. Our fear now is that that Toilet will begin to overflow, and our landlord will accuse us of damaging that as well.

The first time the water damage occurred, we were not home. We were out of State for 6 days. The first time the plumber came by, he mentions that there was a problem with the shower in this bathroom with the previous tenants. The landlord, immediately cut him off and told him not to discuss the issues of people who no longer live there.
Another thing is that we always keep our package of toilet paper on the floor next to the toilet. If the supply line was leaking, like they now say, we were gone for 6 days, that pack of toilet paper was completely dry right along with the bathroom floor.
My husband mentioned to her, that like a few days before we went on vacation, he was in the walk in closet, packing and he noticed a small wet spot on the carpet. He assumed my daughter spilled her cup of water and dried and cleaned it up. He said he now wonders if whatever was leaking under th floorboards had started well before we went on vacation and no one knew about it.
The landlord then turned it around and stated that we knew something was wrong and purposely lied about it.
Which my response to that is, why would we risk all of this? At that time our toilet water was consistently running high, but had never once overflowed, so why we consider a tiny wet spot on the carpet of our walk in closet as a sign of concern.
After the plumber came out the first time, we began hearing the toilet coming on and off. I would flush the toilet and then for the next 4-5 minutes, the toilet would keep running, but th water wasnt rising in the toilet. I stood and videotaped this for 4 minutes and showed it to the landlord. When the plumber came back the second time, he saw the video and said we needed a new flapper
 

Widgit Maker

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The toilet overflowed from the bowl
.
That is an indication of a blocked or partially blocked drain line.

Thee is another bathroom on the 2nd Floor. That toilet is rarely used, but the water comes very high whenever flushes and actually flushes twice every time.
That is also an indication of a blocked or partially blocked drain line.
he was in the walk in closet, packing and he noticed a small wet spot on the carpet.
Assuming that the walk in closet is on the other side of the wall from toilet #2, that indicates to me that there is possibly a leak in the wax ring between toilet #2 and the piping. While water does not flow up hill from a drain line the carpet will absorb water that flows out above the sub flooring.

After the plumber came out the first time, we began hearing the toilet coming on and off. I would flush the toilet and then for the next 4-5 minutes, the toilet would keep running, but th water wasnt rising in the toilet. I stood and videotaped this for 4 minutes and showed it to the landlord.
A toilet that comes on and then goes off indicates a leaking flapper. A toilet that runs for five minutes indicates a defective fill valve.

So if you have a blocked drain line and a fill valve that doesn't shut off in toilet #1 you are going to have a back up. If you have a back up and the wax ring under toilet #2 is leaking you are going to have water between the sub flooring and the carpet.

So you prepared for your trip. As a last thing you use the toilet. The fill valve doesn't shut off. Water backs up in the drain line.
Water runs out of toilet connection to drain of toilet #2 the entire time you are gone.
You return carpet is wet, ceiling is damaged, yet bathroom floors are dry.
 
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WhittneyG

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So, do you think, there was anything we should've done differently to notice this? And what can we do to prevent the second upstairs toilet from doing the same thing as the first toilet and is having an another issue?
 

WhittneyG

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Several people have said for us to move. That's not possible unless she is going to allow us out of our lease. We have another year there. I'm sure she would love for us to move out and break our lease, so she can still sue for all of the rent money as well as ruin our credit and rental history in the process.
We are hoping to defend this crazy lawsuit and hopefully nothing else stops working while we are there. Our main concern is the potential for another toilet/plumbing issue.
 

Reach4

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So, do you think, there was anything we should've done differently to notice this? And what can we do to prevent the second upstairs toilet from doing the same thing as the first toilet and is having an another issue?
The following are not normal practice, but in your situation, extraordinary actions may be warranted.

1. Water alarms are fairly cheap. http://www.basementwatchdog.com/Accessories/Water_Alarm.php

2. When you are on vacation, you could turn off the house water and turn the water heater to vacation mode (if it has one) or off.

Take photos if there are more events.

If rents have risen much in your area , she may be pleased to let you out of your lease so that she can raise the rent.
 

Widgit Maker

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Your landlady should have insurance that would cover the water damage. She is very foolish if she does not. If she has insurance she should be filing a claim. She of course cannot collect from the insurance company and sue you. She cannot collect twice.


Just something you might ask about and explore.
 

Koa

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Your landlord might have already broken the lease back in December when she didn't provide heat for three weeks. Wasn't she worried about the pipes freezing back then? Maybe there was damage done to the supply line back then, sort of like how she is accusing you of turning the heat off and letting the pipes freeze now. I would also consider that not having water for 24 hours is something you should not be required to deal with, but the landlord's responsibility. She should either try to get a plumber in on a emergency basis (not whenever a plumber can come by), offer to put you up in a motel, or at least deduct a days rent from your monthly amount along with a note apologizing for any inconvenience to your family. ;)

It might be worth calling around to some of the local attorneys. The initial visit is usually free to assess if you have a case worth pursuing. You might get some decent free legal advice, depending on how nice the attorney is. Are there any tenant help services in your community?
 
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