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Tenant faces troubling dilemma due to landlord's slow response to safety hazard: 'I called 911'

"My whole life is disrupted."

"My whole life is disrupted.”

Photo Credit: iStock

One tenant faced a troubling dilemma when they discovered their stove was leaking carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause severe health issues and even death when a person breathes it in. Inside the home, it usually comes from gas-powered appliances like stoves, furnaces, and water heaters — especially leaky or defective ones.

In a rental unit, the landlord is responsible for addressing these issues so the home is safe to live in, but some landlords drag their feet or jury-rig repairs to save a few bucks. This can have alarming, dangerous results.

Luckily, this Redditor said they had a carbon monoxide detector in the home. "Last Monday my carbon monoxide alarm went off," they wrote in their post. "I called 911 and the fire department determined that it was coming from my stove/oven and they removed it/unplugged it."

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The Redditor said that they let their landlord know about the problem the next day, but it took them a week to reply. When they did, it was to say that it would be another week before the replacement was delivered.

"I pay $1,525 in rent and can't use my kitchen," said the anxious Redditor. "I can't really do any cooking and my whole life is disrupted."

The tenant considered contacting D.C. Housing for an inspection, which would put official pressure on their landlord to make repairs and allow them to get a break on their rent in the meantime. However, they worried about retaliation. "I'm worried that I'll get a big rent increase as a punishment," they said.

Unfortunately, renters can sometimes be stuck when something goes wrong with their rental, as one commenter pointed out. 

"It's against the law in D.C. for a landlord to retaliate against you for exercising your rights. But it may be hard to prove what's a 'retaliatory' rent increase versus a normal rent increase," they said. "In my non-expert opinion, it would be reasonable enough to ask for a discount on rent for the two weeks that you've been without a stove. But I don't know anything about whether your landlord would be legally obligated to give it to you."

For those who do have a choice, though, electric appliances are a better option. They don't produce carbon monoxide. In fact, they don't produce air pollution at all, making them a healthier option for the people living inside the home and for the environment, as well.

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