I am renting a dangerous basment apartment

Asked by Chuck, 97214 Fri Oct 14, 2011

I live in a basment apartment and pay $620 dollars a month. The cellings are very low if you are taller that say 6'3 or so you cant stand up straight in here and walk around. The only exit is the front door up the stairs there are two bedrooms and no average adult could fit out the windows in case of emergency. So there are no fire exits or smoke detecors or other kind of alarms. I was talking to someone of this situation that is a lisenced plumber and he told me its illegal to even rent this place to someone. I am worried and paranoid on what to do and can not afford legal help. I am on disability and could never afford an attorney. Does anyone have any adivce or a referal to help me please?

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REITrust Corporation’s answer
REITrust Cor…, Both Buyer And Seller, Vancouver, WA
Wed Oct 26, 2011
In the past two days, Oct 24-26, there are 89 one-bedroom apartments posted on Craigslist Portland for under $620 per month. We highly recommend you move immediately because of the very real potential for you to be trapped in this apartment in the event of a fire and die. That danger is even more critical to you as a disabled person. Legal Aid in Portland will help you for free. For ongoing legal questions, we use Pre-Paid Legal Services. For $17 a month you can call and ask questions on unlimited number of legal matters. They will also make phone calls or write letters on your behalf - one per issue at no additional charge. We do not sell Pre-Paid Legal Services, and have nothing to gain in referring you to them, but we have been members for over 10 years and can't imagine not having their services available to us. And Chuck, really, get out of there as quickly as you possibly can!
1 vote
Kevin Levy, Agent, Portland, OR
Sat Oct 15, 2011
BEST ANSWER
Finding another place to live should be as easy as going onto Craigslist and looking for another. There are literally 100's of new places to rent out that come up every day, even cheaper then $620.
But what you might do first is.... write out a letter to your landlord explaining all of your areas of concern....installing a legal egress window, adding a CO2/smoke alarm. Those are 2 easy fixes that wont cost an arm and a leg...just an arm. Be polite about it and mention you are really concerned for your safety. If he refuses then...play hardball. First secure another property on Craigslist, then resend him another letter explaining that if he does not meet your safety requests then you will also send this letter to the city explaining the illegal situation. They will shut him down! You are not doing this to be a jerk, you are doing this to help protect the next person who moves in. People can really die from those issues if they are remedied.

Also, when you came to first check out the place, didn't you notice the LOW ceilings? That is something that you should of immediately noticed and made an appropriate decision based off your comfort level. I do not think the landlord will dig out the basement floor to make the ceiling taller...but at least he should resolve the other safety issue concerns.

Good luck,
Kevin
1 vote
Diane Moreau, , Portland, OR
Sat Oct 15, 2011
Make an appt with Legal Aid for Free advice on your rights and the Landlord's responsibilities. The attorneys at Legal Aid do a lot of Tenant/Landlord cases. The Landlord may be required to give you some financial compensation - again, a question for a real estate attorney. As has been mentioned already - you will most likely be required to move. If you are not ready to do so immediately, at the very least talk with Legal Aid - it's confidential - and pick up a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector at Home Depot or Lowes (should cost about $30 for both)
1 vote
Diane Moreau, , Portland, OR
Wed Oct 26, 2011
Chuck,
Ask your Landlord for a smoke detector or at the very least pick one up yourself.
Diane
0 votes
Chuck, Renter, 97214
Wed Oct 26, 2011
Thank You every one for the advice. unfortunately i do not have as much legal rights as a renter as people have reassured me that i did. After contacting the city of portland buildings inspector i found that out. Bascially if i report the illegal basement rental i am living in it was be condemed unsafe by the fire marshall and i guess you could probblay predict what happens from there. In the words of the city buliding inspector hotline they told me i have to worn you you will be kicked out most likey and all the legal matters would come after i was evicted on the spot. So i am grateful for your advice but legal aid even said well first of all i would have to contact the city and i did that and found out that most people dont report their unsafe living condtions in case because of what really happens. I understand there are tons of apartments for rent but i have checked belive me and its first last deposit application fee cost of uhaul and the list goes on so i am stuck where i am and dont really have the freedom that money buys unlike others.
0 votes
Mary Englund, , Portland, OR
Sat Oct 15, 2011
Chuck, it's a mistake to have rented this apartment. But it's also a situation that should be stopped so others won't be lured into a dangerous apartment. This kind of situation occurs all over the city and because most tenants don't realize how dangerous this is, unscrupulous landlords get away with it. You are going to have to move so start looking now. Your landlord isn't going to make this right in any short period of time. In the mean time call the city of Portland information line and ask who to talk to about unsafe housing, which is in violation of housing code. They will connect you with the right department and they may want to send someone out to inspect your apartment. Your landlord will be contacted with the violations. Even though apartments are hard to find in Portland you are going to have to find a safe one this time. Good Luck.
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Sat Oct 15, 2011
If your living conditions are dangerous, consider finding a new home; for any necessary legal advice, contact your local Legal Aid Society for a pro bono attorney, free.....
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sat Oct 15, 2011
Chuck,

What conditions have changed since you previewed the property prior to renting it?

Based upon your description, it sounds as if you have reason to be concerned and should be considering other options.

Good luck,

bill
0 votes
Marge Bare, Agent, Portland, OR
Fri Oct 14, 2011
I would say you're definitely not in a legal rental. I don't know what you can do for sure, but I would say there may be legal help available for you in this situation, possibly free. It's definitely worth checking out, and you need to get out of this bad situation. I've added a link below to get you started in the right direction.
good luck to you
Marge
0 votes
Richard Bre…, Agent, GREENWICH, CT
Fri Oct 14, 2011
What do you need legal advice for? Why don't you just find another place to live? If the lanlord is holding your security deposit just explain the situation and ask for it back. You might also explain that you are considering the idea of hiring council to see what your rights are?
0 votes
Tom Inglesby, Agent, Portland, OR
Fri Oct 14, 2011
You are not in a safe place and you don't have access thru a low window to crawl out of it which is the law. If you go to the city of Portland they will evict you for being in the basement and renting so it would be best to look for another place for your own saftey. Do you have a smoke alarm with a Carbon dioxide tester on it? This has been code for over 1 year so you can tell the owner you want to move or at least get them to put one in that is the law.

Tom Inglesby, Broker
0 votes
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