Know Your Rights As A Renter - WSPA.com

Know Your Rights As A Renter

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GREENVILLE, S.C. -

The pictures are all up on the walls in Amanda Hollahan's Greenville apartment. But when we met her and her son Aiden several weeks ago, they weren't actually living there.

She showed us why, in the bathroom. There was a hole in the ceiling. Amanda says a patch fell right into the tub.

"I was stunned. I didn't know what it was," said Amanda. "I was scared that the tub above was going to fall through."

Amanda says she called Roper Mountain Woods Apartments management and later faxed in her complaints in writing.

"They came in and sprayed bleach around it and told me there's no harm and they'd come the next day to fix it," said Amanda. "I called every single day for two weeks now."

Ever since then, they've been staying with family.

Greenville Attorney J.J. Andrighetti says disputes over repairs are among the top calls he gets from renters.

He says in most cases, your lease will tell you how to address an issue. Otherwise the South Carolina Landlord and Tenant Act kicks in.

"The Landlord Tenant Act was meant to make it easier for people to do this on their own," said Andrighetti.

Here's how the act works: If you need something repaired, document the problem with pictures, get a friend or neighbor to witness it and send your landlord the details in writing.

Also, consider bringing that letter to your local post office to send it certified. That way you'll get a receipt for when you sent it and one for when it's actually received.

The landlord then has 14 days from the date that letter is received, to try and fix the problem.

If that doesn't happen, you can break your lease and leave.

"The law considers it to have been broken at that point. And they have the right to treat the lease as terminated," said Andrighetti.

The law also protects landlords. Andrighetti says no matter what the reason, don't stop paying rent. If you do, you could be evicted.

For mold and bed bug issues, treat them as a needed repair and send your complaint in writing.

And if you have medical expenses related to any rental problems, you'll most likely have to take your case to court.

"Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to recoup that cost initially," said Andrighetti. "You just have to either try to negotiate that with the landlord, or you have to sue."

Back at Roper Mountain Woods Apartments in Greenville where Amanda lives, we stopped by the management office.

By that afternoon the hole was gone.

"They actually had it all cleaned up when I came," said Amanda. "They actually gave me the prorated rent, so very, very happy about that."

Management wouldn't speak on camera, but responded with this statement:

"Our company takes all issues and concerns very seriously. It is our companies practice to address all concerns of our tenants. We notate the concern in the most thorough manner in order to generate a work order for our maintenance staff. Our maintenance team then makes every effort to resolve the issue to the best of their ability. Management contacts the resident once work is completed on any project to ensure they are satisfied with the way the problem was resolved.

It is our practice to maintain the privacy of every one of our tenants, so we do not discuss any matters relating to the tenancy of one of our residents with anyone other than the resident.

Landlords and tenants need to communicate very closely to ensure any issues and concerns are rectified. This is our practice as we value our relationship with every one of our tenants."

Amanda is just glad to have her family back together again under one safe roof.

Another top complaint among renters is evictions. South Carolina law says a landlord can evict you for not paying rent on time, or for breaching the terms of the agreement, as in deliberately destroying or damaging the unit.

Andrighetti says an eviction stays on your record for ten years.

To avoid any problems, the tenant and landlord should always meet in person, at the rental unit, before a lease is signed.

Write down any damage before you move in. And put any special requests or notes in writing as part of the lease.

When you're ready to move out, go over the property again with the landlord, to assure you get your security deposit back.

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