Alice, My Landlord Wants To Turn Off My Water (Once a Week for 5 Months!)

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Allard Laban)

My current apartment building is undergoing renovations in hopes of making it nicer for future tenants — something that I completely understand, but unfortunately, my landlord sent an email out this week notifying me that the running water to the entire building will be turned off from 9am until 1pm every Tuesday for possibly the next 5 months. I know it is only for 4-hour intervals, but Tuesdays are my day off work and my time to clean and do laundry. I’ve tried talking to my landlord, hoping that he was understand and be willing to help out, but he thinks that I am being completely unreasonable. In fact, he even went so far as to say that I shouldn’t care at all since I can fill buckets with water to use for these purposes before it is turned off every week. I’d really rather not make a huge deal out of this and have it drag on for weeks, but it is a big inconvenience and really limits what I can do in my apartment (which I pay nearly an arm and a leg for I might add). Maybe you and the AT community could offer some advice?

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Sincerely, A Tenant with Rights

Dear ATWR,

Oh dear, that does sound terribly inconvenient. I suspect your landlord did try to pick a time when turning off the water would cause the least amount of headaches, but due to your schedule, it still leaves you in the lurch!

If the scheduled outages were just a time or two and that was the price you paid for a nicer building in the long run, I’d say let it go. But 5 months is waaay too long for your landlord to expect you to suck it up. These are not small repairs, it’s a full-blown renovation. There are costs associated with renovations (which you landlord is hoping to recoup by having a nicer building) and one of the those costs should be giving you a break on your rent for the time that you are inconvenienced.

Now, based on your previous interactions, it sounds like he’s not exactly going to be excited about this idea so you need to start by getting everything in writing (email is fine). Email him back and explain your situation and request he reschedule the work or compensate you. If you can, rally some other residents of your building so you have some support.

You need to look into the law in your area, but I suspect that your housing codes require your landlord to provide your with a “habitable domicile” which means access to water. Based on your landlords response to you email you may need to take further steps — and it’s up to you how much time and energy you want to throw into this issue — but do know that it’s not unreasonable to be miffed.



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