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#11180 - 07/03/02 04:36 PM - Renter needs Advice -
Webmaster Offline


Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3142
Loc: NY, USA
I recently moved into an old building in a somewhat shady part of town and we are having problems with the electrical wiring. The apartment is the 3rd floor and has 4 bedrooms.

We have three air conditioners in 3 different bedrooms and other various odds and ends. We blow fuses routinely trying to run our gadgets. There are 4 fuses four our entire apartment, 2 in the basement and 2 in the second floor hallway. They are all 30 amp.

Whenever an appliance turns on, the lights dim significantly and the TV's picture shrinks.

I recently bought an uninterupptible power supply for my computer to hopefully alleviate random problems I have been having that I think are related to frequent brownouts. There is a light lit that says there is a building wiring fault.

I mentioned the fact that I think our multitude of symptoms could be a problem and the landlord basically gave me the run around, avoiding the question. After arguing with him for awhile I basically got him to admit that the building needed to be upgraded but he said he wouldn't do it because it will cost him too much money. The new owner is the nephew of the prior owner who spoke hardly any english and has "cobbed" our house up repeatedly including installing drop ceilings to cover holes in the ceiling.

I called the local power company and their representive came and checked our service and he said that there is indeed a problem and the fact that we have 30 amp fuses on the second floor indicates a band-aid has been used to correct a problem. The previous owner was present when the power company representative said there was a problem and we needed to get an electrician in here and he said that he would not call an electrician because it cost too much money. Needless to say the power company guy was none too happy and said he was going to to report the building to code enforcement. The new owner says the building will pass and there is nothing we can do about it.

This situation is clearly not acceptable and I worry about burning up in my sleep. Should I call the local code enforcement? Is the owner required to upgrade the building or at least fix it so I don't see a building wiring fault on my UPS? He mentioned being protected by a "grandfather" clause... any help would be appreciated.


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#11181 - 07/03/02 05:40 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
Joe Tedesco Offline

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3325
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts USA
Call the Fire Marshal immediately about these problems.

[This message has been edited by Joe Tedesco (edited 07-05-2002).]
Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#11182 - 07/03/02 06:35 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
sparky Offline

Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5545
well Bob....
who added the AC units? and who put 30A fuses in where they did not belong?

you see 'existing' is a copout term used frequently, by the very same people Joe
( meaning well) suggests you solicit.

Chances are, that type'S' fuses may be all that is required to return the present electrical system to it's original code compliantcy of 1929, and your AC will need to go......

I post here from experience(in my state), but truley hope yours differs.

oh, and Joe this is NREMT 'P' standing for doubt Bob should stock up on saline & burn sheets.....

#11183 - 07/03/02 07:48 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
Roger Offline

Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 1779
Loc: N.C.
Sparky, I second your point. (move to a sunny part of town)


#11184 - 07/03/02 08:11 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
Electric Eagle Offline

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
If you really want action call your local news stations and talk to the consumer or legal reporter. They might get action, but as other sugest it wouldn't take much to get the building "safe", but at the same time your inconviences will increase (blow fuses more often, no A/C). I would move to a better part of town myself. Good Luck.

#11185 - 07/03/02 08:40 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
mamills Offline

Registered: 11/30/01
Posts: 739
Loc: Wharton, Texas, USA
Hi, Bob. I'm very much afraid that your only recourse can be spelled out in two words - MOVE QUICKLY. I hate to be so cavalier about it, but it is obvious that serious problems exist in the wiring in this building...problems that can only be remedied by completely replacing the electrical system (a very expensive proposition when done CORRECTLY by a properly licensed professional). The building owner either doesn't care or is oblivious to the peril that you and your family face. Being on the third floor of this building only makes this situation more grave for you in the very likely event of a fire.

I don't see how on earth it would be possible for this building to pass inspection. Any electrical inspector I have seen would immediately order the electric service to be terminated until such time as the system was brought into compliance.

Best of luck to you, Bob. I guess the bottom line is...I fear for your safety.

Mike (mamills)

#11186 - 07/03/02 11:38 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
joeh20 Offline

Registered: 03/21/02
Posts: 95
Loc: Tullahoma, TN, 37388
Take the owner to civil court if all else fails. The tenant has specific rights to safety, outdated wiring methods may be grandfathered, however life-safety issues aren't. The local fire inspectors has the authority to seal a building at will. They may not even let you back in to get your clothes. So pack first then call.
At worst a judge will require repairs, at best he'll order the building owner to live in the building untill all repairs are completed, most judges don't do this, but they have the option to confine someone anywhere they deem neccesary if the judges orders aren't followed. I would move today. And then pursue legal acton due to the owners arrogance.
Lighting the way

#11187 - 07/04/02 09:34 AM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
Bjarney Offline

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
There is a term that may apply here, that is usually reserved for hazardous chemical concentrations. IDLH, meaning “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health.” It sounds like you may well have a circumstance that warrants use of that term for an electrical installation.

One comment to add to already excellent advice. Be careful. An undesirable repercussion, depending on ownership of the air conditioners, is that the building owner may remove or demand their immediate removal from service.


[This message has been edited by Bjarney (edited 07-04-2002).]

#11188 - 07/07/02 04:43 AM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
RMIESQ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/19/02
Posts: 0
Loc: New York
Sorry to hear about your situation. In New York, when a tenant rents he is entitled to certain things, ie a working toilet, a refrig, dry premises. These items provide him a place to live that is habitable. In certain situations the tenant has the right to withhold rent, and put it in a seperate account, in order to pay someone to correct an inhabitable situation. Evaluate the situation, Who put in the secondary fuses ?Who installed/owns the air conditioners ? Is the elecrical system of any danger if the a/c isn't used? Get estimats on repairs, and then start witholding rent. Once the landlord starts a proceeding to evict, your defense is the inhaitable condition and the premises. This works in drastic situations, from the little bit you wrote I am not sure if you fall within the class of problems that warrant this approach. Contact a local lawyer and discuss your situation, you do have rights as a tenant!!

P.S. I have never seen a Judge order a landlord to live in an apartment ......Except in that Joe Pesci movie "The Super"

#11189 - 07/07/02 06:09 PM Re: - Renter needs Advice -
scjohn Offline

Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 76
Loc: charleston, SC, USA
Bob, I fully agree with RSQimb, dont panic, If you can at all stand it do not use the a/c's.
In this state, you can call the building official and report these violations.In your case they would probably deem your place dellapodated and shut them down. Either way you are probably in for a move, because i'm sure there is more problems there than just the electrical.
Good luck, SCjohn

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