Tenants needing something like a leak fixed can many times be patient, and sometimes not. But good communication between landlord and tenant on what is going on goes a long way Each week veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi answers questions from other landlords and property managers around the country about their rentals.

Dear Landlord Hank,

How are you? I have a question…or two.

I need some advice on my younger son’s situation. He just recently moved into a brand new apartment building in downtown Orlando. When he moved in, it was 40 percent occupied. So, he was on the early side of being the first tenants.

He is on the top floor, which is the 9th floor with the pool, common area, magnificent gym and amenities. Within two weeks of moving in, his bathroom ceiling started leaking pretty badly.

Leak continues after hole cut in the ceiling

The workers have been in and out constantly. They cut a huge hole in the ceiling, and it’s still leaking! Now, it’s leaking brown, dirty or polluted water. He has been documenting all the workers and the constant disruptions practically every day!

Also he has pictures as well. He has been VERY patient (shocking actually!). It’s been a month of this and I simply don’t know how to advise him at this point. Does he have any legal rights in this situation? Should I reach out to an attorney and seek legal advice?

I don’t want to take any of your precious time Hank but I trust you and believe you are one of the most honest men I have ever met.

I would deeply appreciate any thoughts you might have in this matter.

Dear Lori,

Glad to help. I’m not an attorney and can’t give any legal advice, but from landlord/tenant perspective I can comment.

I would look at the lease your son signed at this new place. There should be a section regarding “Damage to the Premises” or something along that line.

Often the lease states if premises are damaged and tenant is unable to live there the landlord may terminate the agreement and the tenant will have to move.

Just guessing here, but if your son feels the unit is untenable then he may have to move out of the building and start over, without any recourse.

It sounds like the builder/ owner are working hard to fix the problem. It seems like a great place to live. Has your son spoken with building management, the owner or the builder about the problem?

Could he transfer to another unit in the building?

I would carefully read the lease first, then talk to management, then the owner, or the builder next, about a time frame for completed repair or transfer.

Only as a last resort, would I speak to an attorney and that is only if the lease doesn’t already spell out how this situation is handled.

Good luck, Lori.

About the author Landlord Hank:

“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.

Landlord Hank - Leak in ceiling of new apartment building what do I do?

Photo credit Volkovslava via istockphoto.com