Ender Holden

05:29PM | 01/07/03
Member Since: 01/06/03
7 lifetime posts
I rent a townhouse in the community I live in. The condition isnt incredible but it is older housing and the price was right. I have been in the residence for about nine months and have had to replace many of the lightbulbs in the home. Many of those lightbulbs were new when I moved in. As well as the tendency to blow lightbulbs I have also noticed that some of the light switches and electrical outlets seem to be going bad or have loose connections. I am concerned that there may be a significant risk involved in living in a house with bad wiring, the most obvious being fire. I do not have any type of insurance on the home and my landlord hasnt been the best about fixing the problems that exist. I was wondering what the most viable solution to this problem may be.

I will first voice my concern to the landlord, but if there isnt a favorable response from that approach I was wondering where to go from there.


Jim D

11:47PM | 01/07/03
Member Since: 01/06/01
342 lifetime posts
Ender - hi, it's not too unusual for outlets and switches to go bad in older housing, especially if they are original items. It's probably true of the light fixtures. (The last place I rented was a 102-year-old farmhouse and I ended up replacing several old outlets and 2 light fixtures.) Environmental conditions will break things down, as will everyday use.

I do want to recommend you look seriously at the cost of a renter's insurance policy as soon as you can. I've seen too many stories of people's houses catching fire or being damaged by tornadoes, and they being "out in the cold" because they didn't have renter's insurance. In fact, not far from where I live, it's happened twice within the last 6 months (electrical wiring caused fires in both cases).

It's possible the company you get your car insurance from can quote you a decent price, and maybe give you a discount on both policies for having more than 1 policy with the company. (I get that kind of deal from Allstate right now; a 10% discount on each policy.) Your landlord should have some type of policy on the property but it won't cover replacement of your belongings, temporary housing, etc. Plus, if he were to sue you to recover the cost of rebuilding after a fire, and you didn't have a renter's insurance policy - well, it wouldn't be pleasant.

Just as a tidbit to any of my active duty military partners, I'm active duty (28+ years of AF service) and I've carried renter's insurance in both on-base military housing and off-base rental housing (even overseas). The military's not responsible for replacing household goods lost to fire or acts of God. My policy with Allstate runs under $200/year with guaranteed replacement value of household articles, temporary housing allowance, and limited liability should someone get hurt on my property. The cost is paid monthly and spread out over 8 months, so it's like $25/month...well worth it and I don't miss those 5 trips to McDonald's for a Big Mac Value Meal...

I hope this helps some - good luck!

Jim D/Heathsville, VA


03:32AM | 01/08/03
Member Since: 09/17/02
524 lifetime posts
You do not want to do this work yourself. As a renter You could be held liable if anything you worked on later causes a fire or electrocutes someone. You must get your landlord to hire an electrician to do this work.

Ender Holden

12:03PM | 01/08/03
Member Since: 01/06/03
7 lifetime posts
I'm grateful for the information, and although I have had experience in construction and electrical work I wouldn't do the job myself. I am wondering whom I might contact on the issue if its something that my landlord feels is not necessary. Would it be wrong of me to hire an electrician to come inspect the house??



12:54PM | 01/08/03
Member Since: 01/05/03
5 lifetime posts
I, too, have to add my encouragement on getting a renter's policy. They're cheap (relative to homeowner's policies) because you're only covering your property and liability. Way worth it.

This is definitely the landlord's responsibility. Not having to worry about that stuff is one of the benefits of renting, right?

As far as who to contact I'm pretty sure that this varies depending on your local landlord-tenant laws. I live in Seattle and the department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) for the city administers and enforces Seattle’s Housing and Building Maintenance Code.

They spell out the steps to follow in dealing with a situation like this on their website, perhaps your city or county has a similar site that you can hit. Here's a copy of the link to Seattle's site, maybe it's similar to the laws in your area.



01:35PM | 01/08/03
Member Since: 09/17/02
524 lifetime posts
Before you go to any outside agency please try to work it out with your landlord. No use stirring up trouble if you can work it out.

Ender Holden

03:55PM | 01/10/03
Member Since: 01/06/03
7 lifetime posts
Thanks for the excellent advice. I will look into what the regulations are in my local area.


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