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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    6

    Default Foul Smell in Apartment

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Ohio

    This is my first apartment so please hang tight.
    This is what has happened up to date, my girlfriend and I just recently moved into an apartment together (22 days so far). We had walked through our apartment about 3 different times and all 3 times noticed an odor of some sort, thinking it was just a closed up unit that just needing a good airing out we didnt think to much of it, but still let the agency know each time about the odor of the carpeting. The apartments allow animals 2 cats or 2 dogs. After about the 3rd day of living in the new apartment we started to notice the smell of cat urine through the entire apartment. There were multiple stains associated with these odors prior to our walk through and were told to just write down everything and we wouldnt be charged for the stains on the carpeting caused by prior pets. Well as the spring month has come the apartment is now getting hotter and if anyone knows how cat urine works, it only gets worse when there is high humidity and high heat. The status of the carpeting through out the apartment was marked down as in horrible condition by us and all spots of odors and complaints expressed on our move in check list. Now after 22 days the smell of cat odor is overwhellming the apartment and I contacted the apartment agency about our problem. The first time was through an employee who opperated an ozone machine for 8 hours one day then after a few days had to come back for a 24 hour ozoning of the apartment. Neither times worked. I went back to them stating it did not work and the odor is still present in the apartment. The manager of the apartment complex said that she would have to talk to the owners to see if there was anything else they could do for us. In the mean time of waiting for them, I went out and bought a florescent black light to find all the random spots on the carpeting to see just how much urine we were talking about. Not suprised at almost all around the edging of the carpet where it meets up to the wall had cat urine or dog urine all over it, there are huge amounts of spots in our master bedroom and many other spots through out the entire apartment. Each spot if you get down and smell it gives off a very foul and discusting odor. After the discovery that the carpet was littered with hundreds of spots of cat urine, I started to do some research as far as our local housing laws and rights are consurned and in the Ohio Law 5321.04 it states in the very first line that: 5321.04 Landlord obligations.
    (A) A landlord who is a party to a rental agreement shall do all of the following:

    (1) Comply with the requirements of all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes that materially affect health and safety;

    (2) Make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;

    (3) Keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and sanitary condition;

    (4) Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances, and elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him;

    After a written expression to managment with proper documentation that we have recieved a possible health/sanitary code violation of this law, they needed to replace the carpeting and padding, we were given back a written response, saying that since we signed the lease we agreed that the apartment was in good repair. No where did we sign an agreement to live with nasty dirty cat and dog soiled carpeting, which to me seems to be a sanitary and a health issue due to bactera that lives in urine. In there letter back to us, they said we had two options, that even after 22 days of being there we could either a spend $500 for a new unit move fee, or we could renegotiate the lease agreement in order for them to put new carpet and padding down which would raise our rent from 20-35 extra dollars a month. To me both of these options are unexceptable as this problem should have already been fixed and replaced prior to renting to another tenant. Now if I were to call the health inspector out and they verify with us that in fact our apartment floorings (carpet) are infact a safety issue health and sanitary issue, have the landlords/apartment complex violated there right to (1) Comply with the requirements of all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes that materially affect health and safety. Nothing in our leasing agreement states that we agree to live with those conditions other than an adendum forms that states that we recieved a $50 discount on the unit and the first months rent was free. No where does it state that we agreeded to live with a possible health/sanitary issue!! I have taken pictures with the black light on of just some of the stains, and we have taken all the right steps in letting them know there is an issue, but is it enough of an issue to either A. Escrow the rent till they fix the issue or B Hire a lawyer to take them to court. Any help is much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    As I see it, you can accept one of the landlord's proposed solutions, you can try to negotiate a better solution, you can complain to the health inspector and see what happens (I'm not optimistic for you if the issue is simply cat odor, even if it's strong), you can sue them for a rent abatement or to try to compel repair (in which case you should expect that they will not renew your lease when it's up, although you may not care), or you can break the lease and see if the landlord sues you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    I could add this, although you may know if you've researched the issue. Cat urine eats into the carpet pad and produces ammonia. If the condition of the carpets is as I suspect based upon your description, nothing short of complete replacement will do the trick - and even that may leave residual odor if urine soaked into the subfloor or cracks in the flooring.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    Thank you for your replay. I think we are just going to go the route of taking one of the options, probably the raising of the rent, which shouldnt be much and just have them replace all of the carpeting. The cat urine is everywhere. It wouldnt be a shocker if it went through the padding and onto the floorboards, but hopefully after they replace the carpeting and pad it will at least help out with the amount of odor that is being produced from all these spots! If you have ever used a florescent black light on anything, imagine what you will find on the carpeting! I honestly think we would have a case if the health inspector signed off on the carpeting as being a health/saftey issue, but no ammount of pictures will hold up in our favor in court due to all the pictures showing a nice/liveable and "habitable" condition. Even if the health inspector signed off on the saftey/health issue, I think the court system would still rule in favor for the apartment complex, because there isnt anything we can prove, as far as odor goes.... just a shaddy way of doing buisness and will not be re-newing our lease after this is all said and done!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    I could add this, although you may know if you've researched the issue. Cat urine eats into the carpet pad and produces ammonia. If the condition of the carpets is as I suspect based upon your description, nothing short of complete replacement will do the trick - and even that may leave residual odor if urine soaked into the subfloor or cracks in the flooring.
    Not only does the carpet needs to be completely replaced, but the floor has to be painted over with a sealant. Perhaps walls too, if the smell really permeated the place. Which means a big mess if you have plenty of furniture to move around to seal that floor, and then recarpet. This is not to mention if the smell permeated your belongings and clothes.

    Pet lovers are often shocked when I say "pets are not allowed", and sometimes counter with, "but it's only a cute little cat"!! Yeh, cute alright, but they can sure stink up a place.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    If it's as bad as you say, I would try to negotiate for the new apartment, perhaps basing that on an increase in the rent as opposed to a lump sum, rather than risking that the clean-up wouldn't be thorough enough or that the odor will persist.

    This stuff is awesome (an enzyme product originally designed to remove skunk odor), but your carpet is probably too far gone for it to work. And it is a pain to use it in a carpeted residential setting.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    I think we are just going to renegotiate the lease for the price of them to replace the carpet, so that we at least know we wont be walking through cat urine everynight we go to bed! Then after the lease is up, we wont be looking back. Also after they replace the carpeting and pad, I wonder how they would feel if 2 weeks later I approached them with the possibility of getting a puppy. I honestly think we would have case in the court system, but after all the fee's and lawyer fee's, i think we would be out more money that way than anything

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    I would suggest contacting the health department first. If they determine it is a health issue, the LL will have to remedy, at no cost to you.

    as to the "you signed it was in excellent condition"

    "latent defect" comes to mind.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    What do you mean as far as latent defect? As far as we couldnt see it, yet only smell it? As far as the health department goes, I have already been in contact with them, and she was able to come out this past friday, and agree's with us as far as there is an issue. She wrote some things down and later I called her back to have her write a formal written observation down and the status of the carpet is in, and she will be mailing it out on monday. Only problem is, is that in our letter from managment it states that we have till monday (2) business days to make our decision on what we want to do. I'm thinking we should go in and tell them we want to negotiate the price and fight that while I wait on my written evaluation from the health department, to see what she has to say in the formal evaluation. The only thing the health inspector told us as far as advice was to probably get in contact with a lawyer, as there was an issue. The only thing she could do for us since managment had given us those two options to either move or to renegotiate the lease agreement, was for her to write us what she thought ther actual condition of the apartment was in. So I am hoping that the letter is good!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Foul Smell in Apartment

    a latent defect is merely a problem that is not discovered until a later time. The fact the urine odor was not present when you viewed the apartment yet the underlying cause was and not obvious, the resulting urine odor would be a "latent defect".

    the LL can obviously rescind an offer that was discretionary on their part but that will not affect a requirement placed by the health department.

    I suspect, from what you have said concerning the statements of the inspector, they will not see this as a health issue that demands action, sorry to say. If it were, an attorney would not be required as the health department would demand action.

    So, now, it appears you are back to the negotiations.

    Sorry to go through that but you hadn't disclosed that you had already contacted the Health department and what they said.

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