My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Pennsylvania.
Let me give you a little background info before starting so you can get a clearer picture of the issues. I have been living in my apartment, which is a home converted into 3 apts with me on the 3rd floor, for 5 yrs. Ever since moving in, I have had numerous plumbing issues through out the apt. The first 2 yrs I had a landlord who really cared and came out asap with 2 fulltime maint. techs, to fix issues , no questions asked. As far as the plumbing issues though, they have never had a pro plumber come in to evaluate the on going issues with the toilet, tub, sink and kitchen sink and dishwasher back up and flooding. They just temporarily would fix the problem and for yrs they have been arising again and again. Fast forward to the last 2 yrs of my current landlord, who isnt the same owner. Building was sold to this guy. He is another story. He's basically a slum lord. He collects rent and mine is always on time but goes as far as calling on the day its owed or showing up at my apartment that day, even though its always already been mailed. As far as repairing things goes thats another story. First off he has no maintenance people that I know of. He calls random people he knows , who are not professionals to come fix issues. One of the guys sent even told me he never unclogged a tub before and dont know plumbing issues. He lets things go for yrs, as what he did with a huge hole in the ceiling of my downstairs neighbor, from a tub leak from my apartment. Or he'll wait until he feels like doing it, if at all.
Anyway, theres some history. The issue on hand now is whats currently happening. This past Monday the 21st of Jan 2013, as usual there was a problem again with the toilet at 4am. It was flushed with nothing solid in there and the toilet just overflowed and flooded the bathroom and leading to the carpet in front of the bathroom, with about 2 inches of water on the floor. I tried first to use towels and a mop before calling anyone. But with that much water, I couldnt even begin to eliminate the problem. Also, the toilet water hadn't gone down at all and was steadily at the very top of the rim of the toilet, so I couldnt slosh through and try to plunge because it would further overflow onto floor again. So, since my landlord has no maintenance per se, he also doesnt have anything in the lease about emergency situations and repairs. The only thing in the lease thats stated that if repairs are needed, to call his number (doesnt specify times of day or days of week). So, immediately I called him at little time after 4am because I feared the flood of water may leak down into the downstairs apt causing further damage, and I would be held liable if I didnt try to do something. He didnt answer so I left him a message as to what happened. After calling him, I called a friend out of dead sleep of course, that works as a regional maint. supervisor and does plumbing, etc. He came immediately to assess the damage. I called him immediately after calling him due to the amount of water on the entire floor (whole bathroom) and some going into the hall carpet) and as I said before , was afraid of further damage to floor and ceiling leak of neighbors. Anyway, landlord still didnt call me back so my friend started working on the flooding first with a wet/dry indust. vacuum. After the bathroom floor was cleared up, he shut off the water valve on the toilet , which I had no idea about that valve or anything. He started by sucking water out of the toilet with the vacuum due to it being to the top of rim and couldnt plunge with it that high without overflow. Once the water was down enough, he tried his plunger he uses from work. He plunged for so long it was unreal and still it would not budge. It needed to be snaked. At this point he had been there about a half hour. He noticed he forgot to bring his snake, thinking it was gonna be a normal clog so he had to go to walmart and buy a snake. That took some time for him to come back of course. At 5am, he began snaking the toilet. That went on for a really long time. The first time he tried flushing after snaking, the toilet over flowed all over the floor around the toilet again so he had to get the vacuum out again and get the water up. He continued snaking until it was clear. After all was said and done, he didnt get done until 6am! You can imagine how exhausted we were. Anyhow, he said Im gonna have to bill for this but that I shouldn't have to be responsible, knowing all the past problems and the emergency situation. At no time during this entire process did the landlord call back. In fact, he didnt call back until 10:48am the next morn. Surely if I wouldnt have gotten it fixed and had waited that long until he called and then waiting even longer until he would send someone out, the water would have spread into the whole hallway and gone down into apartment below and me and the kids would have no where to go to the bathroom because the water was so high we couldnt sit on it if we tried even if we didnt flush. I hope you can understand that part. Dont have a better way to put it.
Anyway, he proceeds to say he's not paying the bill. I was sleeping when he called and was foggy and said to take it up with the friend who fixed it and went back to bed. I was exhausted from being up have the night/morning and didnt want to argue.
I woke up to an email saying he thinks we should "part ways" because I "dog" up his plumbing all the time and expect him to pay for it and threatened some other actions which I will get to on another forum.
So , now that you know the whole story, can anyone give me any laws or advice or anything that would prove he is responsible for this bill I have to pay? I already have been searching the entire net for things related but nothing matching my circumstances and nothing in the landlord/tenant handbook states anything about my situation. I consulted 2 attorneys that say I had to get permission before getting work done, but it was an emergency, he didnt answer and never called back until late in the morning and he has no number or instructions as to what to do in case of emergency. The lawyer said I had to give him ample time to fix it before doing anything BUT, again, he called 6 hours later and that wouldnt count the time he would need to get someone out to me if nothing was done. Can you imagine the damage that would have caused if I did nothing? And not being able to even try to use the toilet for me and my kids because of the water to the rim? What do I do? I have exhausted every effort and now other things are involved. Help please!
P.S. As of last night at 10:30am, 2 days after this whole event, I have had a tub full of water that will not drain so it just goes to show there are bigger issues here, even though he blamed me for the toilet and his reason for not paying.