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RJ, Professor
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 3070
Experience:  Former Torts professor and former personal injury paralegal
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I live in a small apartment that has a gas wall heater. After

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I live in a small apartment that has a gas wall heater. After my first year here I requested that the power company send someone out to check the pilot light because even when the heater was not on, heat would build up around the heater, making a hot day even more miserably hot in the apt. I thought maybe it had too much pressure supplying the pilot.

When the power company's technician inspected the heater he told me that it was "recirculating" and that he had to "cap off" the gas supply line to the heater entirely. On the service report that he gave me he he wrote, "Wall heater - Shut off and capped due to recirculation. Refer to landlord for repairs."

It took the landlord three weeks to come out and put a new heater in and he installed himself. He is a licensed general contractor - retired. As he worked on the installation -- without refering to any instructions, because he says he's done so many of them that he doesn't need to read instructions -- he told me that the tech from the power company didn't know what he was talking about and that the heater wasn't recirculating. He said the guy was lazy and just didn't want to do his job. This made no sense to me since it took the power company guy longer to tag the heater unsafe and cap it than it would have taken for him to fudge the inspection and tell me that it was operating properly. So how was the technician being lazy or not doing his job?

Also, the landlord impressed upon me that the new heater had a built in Carbon Monoxide Detector that would automatically shut off the heater in case of any malfunction.
Then the walls on either side of the heater began turning blackish near the side vents and that concerned me. So I informed the landlord. He claimed it must be (get this) because of my cats -- that the cat hair gets in the heater and burns, coming out that vents and blackening the walls;
By this time I did not trust him. He did not even turn the gas off when he had to move the gas line (because the heater he had purchased was designed to have the gas line enter on the bottom right side and mine came through the floor on the left side, thus requiring installation of an elbow fitting to get it to the other side).
I was not satisfied with the cat hair combustion answer. Ihad my boyfriend turn off the gas to the heater and I called the power company again for a safety check. This time the service report read: "Wall furnace spill switch safety is not connected"
So, this self-proclaimed, experienced, furnace installer/landlord of mine had bypassed the appliance's safety feature when he installed the new furnace, and all the while telling me how the safety feature would detect unsafe operating conditions & shut off the heater automatically. It would save my life. I didn't have to worry about it, he had told me.

This man is dangerous. He is a threat to every tenant, every time he steps foot into their apartment, especially if he is doing 'repairs' himself. This is not the only example of the landlords' reckless activities. I find that I am fearful of any contact with the owner that may give him reason to enter my apartment. At the same time, there are many things in need of repair.
This winter I weatherstripped the entry doorway myself, and paid for it. There was such a gap around he door that the cold just blew right in around it. I was either going to freeze or leave a massive 'carbon foot print,' which I am conscientious about.

Now I have noticed this strange brownish-red dust on the upper vemts of the heater casing. Looking in there I can see that he left fiberglass insulation sticking out from around the inner heater vent where it appears to be burning off gradually and escaping as dust or ash through the vents into my living space.
The power company said that thay do not make repairs, they only do inspections, which I already knew.
The landlord told me that the fiberglass in the part of the heater that has free air exchange with my apartment won't hurt anything. I looked up the installation manual for my heater make and model and it clearly instructs that the insulation be enclosed. There must be some reason for this.

What can I or what should I do next? I have nightmares about what hazards to my health may exist. (Unfounded fear?) I know I have been lied to on multiple occassions by the owner, talking down to me as if I am too stupid to comprehend his deceptions.

The only I'm guilty of as far as he's concerned, is that I did not invest in rental properties and capitalize on them by compromising the health and well-being of the renters, while consciously lying to them in order to better enable such a scheme to succeed.

I am not able to move from this apartment at this time but I am working toward that goal.

On top of this (and more) I received a notice of rent increase to go into effect in two months from now. Go figure!
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  RJ replied 6 years ago.
Do not worry. You can get the compensation you deserve. Your landlord had a duty to either fix everything properly or hire someone who could. Move out of this apartment as soon as you can. Sue the landlord for breach of contract, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, and constructive eviction. Hire a local property lawyer. Go on Good luck and remember to press accept so that I may get credit.
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