My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California
Since I moved into my apt several years ago, my gas bill has been astronomical every winter: $200-300/mo to heat a two-bedroom place. When I asked the gas company why, they said it was the economy and that my daughter and I should use my heater as little as possible and bundle up. So, I would use my heater for, maybe, 7-10 days out of the month when it was particularly cold and still get that kind of bill.
Recently, the gas company was here to fix an appliance, and discovered that my ancient gas heater was malfunctioning. I mentioned that my daughter's room is always cold, and an attic inspection revealed that the duct work leading into her room was busted open, so no heat was going there at all. In fact, the broken duct work was leading my thermostat to regulate my heater to bring the huge attic over this 1930s apartment complex up to temperature, instead of her room. Thus, my crazy bill.
This broken duct work is insulated with asbestos. I don't know what broke it, and it leads to my daughter's room. Nobody seems to be worried about this but me, as they say that at as long it is undisturbed there's no dust in the air. Well, wasn't it disturbed every single time I turned on the heater and it was blasting hot air all over the attic -- and possibly down into that vent as well?
My landlord had three contractors come out and give her estimates. They have told her that they are going to need a building safety inspector to come out and a special team to move the asbestos-covered duct work. Then she needs to replace the 1960-70s heating system. She's told me all of this should cost $14,000-$16,000. On top of this, she needs to hire someone to cut a hole in the ceiling as the current attic entry way is too small to allow for all the work that needs to be done.
She has told me she can't really afford this right now, and since it's nearly spring and getting warmer, she would prefer to wait until next winter. The estimates she has will expire in a few days, but I guess then she'd try to get new ones. I said maybe she could get some financing, and she mentioned something about potentially needing to put it on her credit card. She said maybe she could just change the heater for about $500. I said that wouldn't solve my issue of paying hundreds of dollars to heat my home, and it doesn't even make it to my daughter's room.
We have a storm coming this weekend, and I know right now that my daughter and I are going to be freezing. This weekend is a wash, but I am planning to tell her that she needs to get this taken care of as soon as possible -- not just due to the cold, but because of the questionable asbestos situation. Anticipating a bit of a dust up, I wanted to ask what are my legal rights in this matter. And, a coworker said I should ask for some percentage of reimbursement for what I have been overcharged in gas, and base it on what my downstairs neighbor -- whose heating unit she apparently replaced years ago -- is paying.
I have a great landlord, and I don't want to have animosity with her. But I think this needs taken care of ASAP and I want to approach her with legal facts under my belt.