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Renter fears for their health after landlord's shoddy repair of dangerous appliance: 'Time to immediately withhold rent'

"That is illegal…"

“That is illegal..."

Photo Credit: iStock

When a homeowner tried to brush off their tenant's concerns about a dangerous, damaged furnace, Reddit leaped in to help.

Gas appliances are a risk at the best of times. Even when they're working correctly, they've been linked to many health issues, including one in eight cases of childhood asthma. When gas appliances aren't working correctly with all their safety features intact, they can produce carbon monoxide (CO) — an odorless, colorless, and deadly gas.

While there are legal protections in place to defend tenants from carbon monoxide, not everyone knows their rights — including the 22-year-old Redditor who posted about their problem in the r/LandlordLove subreddit.

"I rent through a large property management company, and they sent two HVAC techs out when our furnace didn't come on about a month ago," they explained. "Both techs from different companies said that there were several issues with the unit (it's 20+ years old) but a major one is the combustion chamber is cracked, causing a potential CO leak even if it was on."

According to the Redditor, the experts recommended replacing the unit entirely, but the owner decided to come by with a handyman to do the repairs himself. The furnace turned on, but the landlord did nothing about the cracked chamber. "We are essentially supposed to buy carbon monoxide detectors and I guess alert him if they go off or if the furnace breaks again."

That solution just didn't sit right with the Redditor. "I'm not very comfortable with the risk of potentially getting carbon monoxide poisoning," they said.

However, they also weren't sure of their options for addressing the issue. That's where Reddit commenters stepped in.

"Bruh, your landlord is not allowed to DIY HVAC with a tenant," one user said. "That is illegal as f***. … Ain't no way in hell a handyman is going to be allowed to touch HVAC s***, especially since most states cap handyman work at $500 per job. … He would need to work under a contractor who is certified to perform the repairs, and that contractor needs to supervise his work." 

To make sure the repair was done right this time, the commenter recommended hitting the landlord where it hurt. "It's time to immediately withhold rent in an escrow account and tell the slumlord to pucker up and put a new HVAC in."

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