PSI: Renters get long needed repairs

By Jamie Boll - bio l email

Produced by Jeff Keene - email 

PINEVILLE, NC (WBTV) -  Brian Causby and Adam Beach were looking forward to new opportunities.  Job prospects brought them from Morganton to the Charlotte area.  Their move hasn't exactly gone smoothly.

"It's very frustrating," said Causby standing in his apartment in Pineville.

Along the wall separating his bedroom from his bathroom is a turned-back carpet.  The exposed carpet padding is dripping wet.

"Very frustrating especially when they keep telling us that the problem is fixed," said Causby.  "I don't know what their definition of fixed is, but it doesn't look fixed to me."

Causby and Beach say the leak started nearly two months ago and they contacted the apartment office.   A couple of attempts at repairs were made, at one point a hole was cut in the ceiling above his shower.

"When the ceiling was open you could see the water coming out," said Causby.

Causby says the smell has been so irritating he can no longer sleep in his bedroom.   He now uses an inflatable mattress set up in his living room.  He and his roommate continue to pay the $636 dollar rent on the 2-bedroom apartment.

Charlotte attorney Claire Shapack says paying the rent is absolutely the right thing to do.  Withholding it can be a temptation, but its wrong.

"That is not a good idea in North Carolina," said Shapack.  "The statute specifically says that tenets should not withhold rent."

The state law does however,  require rental property owners to "make all repairs" to keep the premises "habitable" and they have to do it "promptly."

If repairs are not made renters can seek an abatement.  A rent refund, or credit to compensate for the delays.  It often requires a trip to small claims court.  Shapack says a renters case is bolstered by strong documentation.

Causby and Beach have documented everything, not only in writing, but in still pictures and video.

"It's bad," said Beach. "We would just love to resolve this and move on."

WBTV contacted the apartment owner's corporate office.  A spokesperson says Causby and Beach have fallen victim to three different leaks.  The company says it understand the renters' frustration is working to find and fix the leak.

The same day WBTV contacted the apartment managers, work crews were back at the apartment.

"They replaced the carpeting and the padding," said Beach.  "Nothing is wet anymore."
Hopefully it will stay that way, but Beach and Causby have had enough.  They are planning to find a different place to live.