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Indebted and So Grateful, Vacuum Out the Fluids - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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February 9th, 2010


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03:22 pm - Indebted and So Grateful, Vacuum Out the Fluids
So what's happened with the dispute with my landlord?

I need the $15,- unit tax and the roto-rooter bill asap.

Roto-rooter: I left the bill on your desk. The clog was at 4' from the overflow/drain. He took out a lot of black [h]air, very compacted.

Advice from the plumber: <<clean the drain cover everyday. Keep the whole tub clean. Make an effort, and you will be rewarded. Do not make an effort and you provide more work for me, thank you.&rt;&rt;

I am not a great "clean-clean" guy, but - come to think of it - I have never had a clogged drain in my bathtub in 25 years that I lived here. I am - by no means - a "good" example, in the sense that I am a messy guy (probably much worse than most). But I am careful with the drains and the garbage disposal as well - not because I am virtuous, but just because I cannot afford the plumber's bills.
Well, it looked like he hadn't magically changed his mind, so it was time to once again, in another deliberately out-of-character act, be assertive, b-e assertive. Or at least pull a Henry Clay.

I put the $15 unit tax check in the box in the laundry room on 1/31, and it was deposited on 2/4 according to my bank account.

Regarding the Roto-Rooter bill, I am still very confused and uncomfortable about the situation. In my experience and the experience of every single person I have talked to—including my next-door neighbor Neil—the landlord takes care of unclogging drains. All that I have read about the landlord-tenant code in California also says that plumbling [sic] blockages are the landlord's responsibility unless the tenant has been grossly negligent or willfully destructive, which I have not been. I have only engaged in normal use, and I have already been following the plumber's advice! I do clean the drain cover every day, since hair tends to accumulate there after a while, and I do clean the whole tub regularly. You saw the cleaning solution right there. The clog was four feet down the drain, which would be impossible for me to get at and clean. I have lived in several places over the years and done less than I've done here, and I haven't had a clogged drain until now.

I do not feel that I have "allowed the plumbing to become filthy," and you do not feel that the pipes themselves played any part. Since neither of us will take full responsibility, I propose this solution: we simply split the bill 50/50. I ask for this in good faith, from one reasonable man to another. In return, I will be even more diligent than I already have been so that we do not have to deal with this issue in the future. Some friends have given me a few good tips on keeping the drain clean. Perhaps you can tell me your secret as well!

I hope you will accept my offer. If you still want me to pay the bill in full, I have 30 days, according to the invoice, and I will use that time to consult tenants' rights groups and get some legal advice to make sure we are handling the situation properly and interpreting the rules and regulations correctly. If the law says I should pay, then of course I will pay, but I want to have no doubts.
I was very antsy afterward, hoping he wouldn't flip out and overreact in a crazy way. There was so much I didn't say in my e-mail, like how I felt railroaded into the Roto-Rooter resolution when I could have tried to fix the drain myself and how his plumber totally made the issue worse than it was to begin with.

(1) Thanks for the payment for the unit tax.

(2) As far as the roto-rooter bill is concerned, I would not have asked you to pay it if I thought there was any doubt that it should be paid by you. "Negligence" may be the legal word but I find this embarrassing to tell a tenant he/she is "negligent" for not cleaning his/her bath tub. You do what you want in your place - that is your "castle".

Look, the way to see it is "The law says = Cleaning is tenant's problem, fixing wear & tear is Owner;s problem."

The rotorooter found the clog at 4'. That means it belongs to you. And I have saved the hairs that were part of the clog. In case you want to examine them..

If Rotorooter had found a clog at a long distance and if another adjacent tenant had experienced a clog simultaneously (i.e. the clog was in a common drain pipe) then it is the owner's responsibility to pay the bill. The plumbers know that. That's why they indicate the distance.

(3) If a clogging problem develops after tenant's movein and in a relatively short time, then there is a question as to the responsibility of Owner and previous tenant. That is why I routinely have an inspection of the plumbing & drains when a tenant leaves. I think this is what you heard when you say the Owner should pay for cleaning drains clogged by tenants. Also, at time of movein, there is a check of all drains (again) to verify that the situation is clean. Also, I ask the new tenant to give me - within 30 days - a list of things they noticed in the place that could need improvements or that require repairs.

(4) As far as our splitting the bill, that would be reasonable if there was any reason for thinking that the cause could come from - say - the previous tenant. How long have you been in this place? It is not reasonable. Another reason would be the drain pipes are rusty and falling apart. Believe me, when that happens, I order replacement (which I did a few years ago in your place, as [my plumber] discovered). The pipes are not guilty. The hairs are guilty and we caught them. But you can have your expert look at them from below, as we did.

=>> As you know, I have put a new gas range in your place, and I have replaced the water heater (that was good and functioning well) even though I did not have to. Preventive maintenance is better than cure. If I thought the pipes were bad, I would not sleep at night until they were replaced. I face my responsibilities as an owner, and I know you want to do the same as a tenant. In the matter of this rotorooter bill, I hope you will see it my way.
Well, I hope you get bent, sir! Um.

We could continue sending passive-aggressive e-mails to each other, or I could just suck it up and pay the bill. I left messages with a couple local housing rights groups to get their opinion, but this isn't worth a legal battle or continued stress and tension. I will likely just pay up for my own sanity and start performing regular drain maintenance with the magic of baking soda and vinegar and/or salt. Unfortunately, boiling water is supposed to be bad for plastic pipes, which I apparently have, so I hope regular hot water does the trick well enough.

I was thinking today how much I've grown up in the last three years. Sometimes being an adult is annoying.

ETA: Holy shit, I just won a $100 Visa gift card for filling out a commuter survey. There, now I'm only paying for half the bill, like I offered to. Sometimes things kind of work out.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: The Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats

(35 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:stephl
Date:February 9th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
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He saved the clog?

You know, I'm irrational when it comes to landlords fucking over their tenants (a landlord tried to withhold my deposit after I moved out because the windowsills were dusty, and that is no lie; I won and got the money), but I also think there's some value in just paying Roto-Rooter and not continuing to deal WITH A CRAZY PERSON.

He SAVED THE CLOG?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC)
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a landlord tried to withhold my deposit after I moved out because the windowsills were dusty
The entire deposit??

He SAVED THE CLOG?
You know, I would have saved the clog too, to be honest. Since I—the renter—was very interested in seeing the clog and what it was made up of in order to confirm that it was all my hair and not some weird decaying pipe material or something. I only saw part of the clog, I guess, that was left in the bathroom when I got home, and I intended to save it until we resolved the issue in case I needed it as evidence.
[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:February 9th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
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There's this weird sense he's blaming your body hair for this issue. Like, "if you were hairless this wouldn't happen! Thus, your fault!"


It does seem like he honestly believes this is the rule though. What I would do is pay it, then find the penal code that indicates who should pay such and present it to him (if you're right, of course).
(Deleted comment)
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From:rowanceleste
Date:February 9th, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
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I would pay it too, just because he was specific about inspecting the drains before you moved in and it being specific to your drain and not a common drain. If there was a possibility it could have been years of accumulation from a previous tenant, that would be different, but it just sounds like a lot of hair gets down the drain. I'd also get Drano Max or Liquid Plumber or something and just use that every month or so, so you don't have to worry about it again.
[User Picture]
From:morgandawn
Date:February 10th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
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I'd pay it, look for another place and move. because he's a crazy person and you don't need a crazy person in your life. (the hairs are guilty?!)

do not use draino - plumbers charge a lot more when you've used it because of the hazard it is to them.

non boiling water tip:
http://www.rusticgirls.com/plumbing/bathtub-clogs.html
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
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Those tips still involve boiling water.

I'd pay it, look for another place and move. because he's a crazy person and you don't need a crazy person in your life. (the hairs are guilty?!)
Heh. He's kind of kooky, but he's generally pretty good about things. The good has outweighed the bad of living here.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:behindpyramids
Date:February 10th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
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You've inspired me to go clean out my drain so I won't have to go through anything like this. (I thought your e-mail was very professional by the way. I was not impressed by your landlord's). I thought standing ankle deep in tepid water was normal.

[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
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I thought your e-mail was very professional by the way.
I've learned!

I thought standing ankle deep in tepid water was normal.
It's not!
From:rssrss
Date:February 10th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
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"Unfortunately, boiling water is supposed to be bad for plastic pipes, which I apparently have, so I hope regular hot water does the trick well enough."

But you know, they're not YOUR pipes. You are a nice person to care about it being bad for them, but you don't own them. I have to say, I'm really surprised he won't split it if only because he has a presumably good, quiet tenant who pays his rent in a timely fashion. I'm assuming here, but I don't see you as otherwise. And who, yeah, cares about pipes he doesn't even own. Even if you suck it up and decide to pay the whole thing, which I gather you probably have, I'd still think you'd want things spelled out with more clarity for the future. Or, you know, you could move, if you're pissed off enough.

And 30 days inspection? Sounds very nice, in theory, but things come up. They do. That doesn't mean they're your fault, or even his fault. But that also doesn't mean they should wind up on you. Plus, you only have his assessment of the situation and what it indicated/did not indicate and what he says he did. I'm pretty cynical when it comes to landlords though...
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC)
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But you know, they're not YOUR pipes. You are a nice person to care about it being bad for them, but you don't own them.
I don't care about damaging them in general. (Well, a little, because I'm me.) Mostly I care about damaging them specifically. In that if they melt because of my pouring boiling water down the drain, that is kind of unconditionally my fault, and I would feel responsible for replacing them, and I sure ain't paying for that. So maybe just close-to-boiling-and-hotter-than-regular-faucet-water water.

I'm really surprised he won't split it if only because he has a presumably good, quiet tenant who pays his rent in a timely fashion. I'm assuming here, but I don't see you as otherwise.
He acknowledged when I asked him to lower my rent that he really likes me as a tenant, and he didn't want me to move, but he couldn't lower my rent. So I asked for a new stove, and he gave me one.
[User Picture]
From:tackdriver56
Date:February 10th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)

Sanity Check - Hair Happens

(Link)
I think the landlord should eat the roto-rooter bill. Humans shed. If he wanted you to use some kind of screen over the drain, he should have provided it and told you to use it.

My she-child sheds shoulder-blade length hair, and it has to be removed from the American Standard tub drain mechanism about every six months, or the tub backs up. It's thoroughly disgusting, but it's regular mainenance that can't be performed without tools or mechanical intuition. I wouldn't expect or want the average renter to be disassembling the plumbing fixtures to clean the innards, if it were my place.

So the landlord should suck it up. I suspect the law is on your side, too.

OTOH, a new stove is a nice perk.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 03:43 am (UTC)

Re: Sanity Check - Hair Happens

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If he wanted you to use some kind of screen over the drain, he should have provided it and told you to use it.
For reals.

So the landlord should suck it up. I suspect the law is on your side, too.
Probably. But I don't want it to become a Thing, since I still want to live here in peace.

OTOH, a new stove is a nice perk.
In my head, I am considering this payment for all the other odd jobs he's done that maybe he didn't have to. Except I think most of them he had to. THIS IS WHY I RENT. SO I DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING.
[User Picture]
From:ora_wai
Date:February 10th, 2010 04:45 am (UTC)
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Plastic pipes? That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I would've thought that if you had sent a toy or I don't know, glue, down then you'd be responsible. But since it was what I'd see as natural wear and tear, then the landlord should do it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
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That is what I had assumed! But he sees it differently, and I can't change his mind.

Plastic pipes? That sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Apparently they are supposed to be better than metal pipes since they don't clog as much. Uh...
[User Picture]
From:lembeau
Date:February 10th, 2010 06:11 am (UTC)
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I like your contrasting tags.

As for your landlord all I can do is *sighs*. It's a little ridiculous. Now if this had been a common occurrence, then it would be understandable, but after 3 years and 4 ft into the pipes? I'm glad the universe stepped up. Even the universe thinks your landlord is wrong.
[User Picture]
From:marzipan_pig
Date:February 10th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
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I have less-than-shoulder-length hair on my head and not a lot anywhere else, and I clog my brains (ha ha I meant DRAINS) *all the time*. (Admittedly I do have some reasons to shed more than usual).

Also, I would be totally horrified if my landlord told me she'd saved my hair (like, what exactly is her plan for said hair?). The last time my drain got messed up and I couldn't plunge it myself, she had to get some special equipment b/c I'd managed to get it so far jammed down.

So, in summary: I now appreciate my landlord all the more. I do have empathy for you and your Hair Issue.
[User Picture]
From:melodinous
Date:February 10th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
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My tub drain got clogged a few months ago and even though there was standing water stuck in the tub, baking soda and vinegar cleaned it out so I didn't have to call my landlord! whee! I think I put boiling water in plastic pipes though, but I didn't know you weren't supposed to do that. Oops!

I've had terrible luck with security deposits and landlords. It's not that I'm particularly dirty, they just want to keep my money. The last one we actually never paid a security deposit, and then the landlord was bitching to my neighbor about how dirty we left the place and that we'd had the power turned off (which most normal people would do). Except, we spent days cleaning before we left, and when we moved in the place smelled like cat pee, so overall our tenancy there was an improvement on a really crappy place.

I've just paid many bills just to make them go away, it's a bummer but not worth the hassle.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
My tub drain got clogged a few months ago and even though there was standing water stuck in the tub, baking soda and vinegar cleaned it out so I didn't have to call my landlord! whee!
See, if I knew my landlord was REALLY going to make me pay, I would have tried to take care of it myself first. I just assumed it was his problem, and once I told him, he started taking care of it, ready to bill any cost to me.

I've just paid many bills just to make them go away, it's a bummer but not worth the hassle.
Stupid money.
[User Picture]
From:upanashad
Date:February 10th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
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I would probably have paid as well, just because you've got a good place and you don't want to move and in general your relationship with the guy is good, and I've heard the most godawful landlord/tenant stories from friends in Berkeley, where the landlords were totally psycho and irrational. So it's a good thing to have only a slightly irrational landlord around here, I think.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I guess he could be crazier.
[User Picture]
From:chrryblssmninja
Date:February 11th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
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ETA: Holy shit, I just won a $100 Visa gift card for filling out a commuter survey. There, now I'm only paying for half the bill, like I offered to. Sometimes things kind of work out.
whoa
[User Picture]
From:eldritch_flame
Date:February 13th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
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I applaud you for maintaining such a reasonable tone in all your letters; that's something I'm very bad about, being assertive without sounding whiny or bitchy. I think your landlord really should have been responsible for this bill, and it's a shame that the codes dealing with this situation are not more clear. Still, good on you for sticking up for yourself. I guess now you'll know to try to take care of things yourself, or look for a more reasonably priced option, before getting your landlord involved...


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