DEL CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Freezing temperatures back in December caused pipe problems in homes all over the metro area.
One KFOR viewer said she took steps to protect her property, including letting water drip and leaving cabinets open, even putting a space heater near the pipes as the landlord suggested, to help protect them from freezing.
But she said when things finally thawed out, she was shocked to find she was the one billed for home repairs.
“[Plumbers] said that the pipes were no insulated,” said Andrea Normore, adding that she has had nothing but problems since she moved into the rental home in December 2022.
“We just moved here on December 9th [but] we’ve had numerous problems with Homestead Property Management since we’ve been here,” she added.
“The [pipes] froze during the time that we had a really cold temperatures here [and] it took [the property management company] ten days to get someone out here,” she added saying she went without running water in several rooms for days.
“I had to get from the tub, then bring it in the kitchen and wash my dishes,” she added.
“Christmas time was hard to get a plumber out [and] I totally understand that. But we should not have gotten that bill,” she added, also saying once the water returned, it started shooting out of other appliances like the dishwasher.
Attorney Ryan Owens said unfortunately, renters may be responsible for home repairs and the details could be hiding in the fine print of a lease.
“[Renter] should immediately notify the landlord or property management company [but] landlords and tenants can agree in writing in a contract to specific repairs. If [landlords] know something is happening and don’t do something with that information as a landlord, well then [landlords] might be on the hook.”
Now, Normore said the company is also difficult to get in touch with.
“I’ve called several times [but] the only communication we have is through text messages,” she said, adding that the company will not meet with her in person to discuss issues with the pipes or other problems that have presented in the home since they’ve moved in.
Andrea said she’s been hit with several unexplained charges added to her bill each month, and has also encountered issues with poor insulation in the home, windows that won’t open and gas leaks.
“If you refuse to speak to me, I mean, there’s no resolve.”
In winter weather, insulating pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperatures 2-4 degrees.
“That does not excise bad conduct by landlords at all, but tenant rights are limited,” said Owens.
“A tenant should do the following things: they should be aware of the weather and if it’s below 32 degrees, then they should keep their cabinet doors open. They should be sure that they’ve got the heat above 60 degrees and drip the sinks, just like any other homeowner would do. And if for some reason the pipes burst, that’s on the landlord as the tenant then [has] done all [they] can do,” he added.
“You [the tenant] didn’t build the building, didn’t install the pipes. So if [the tenant has] done everything that that an ordinary, reasonably prudent person would do to try to keep their own pipes from freezing over, [that’s it].”
“If you’re going to press your rights and you have every right to do so, just know that you got to be able to move on to the next thing,” he added.
If an essential service like heat, water, electricity or gas fails because a landlord is at fault, there are protections for renters.
According to Oklahoma tenant law an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity or gas) fails due to the landlord’s fault or willful act, you can, at your option, by giving written notice:
- End your lease and move immediately
- Move somewhere else temporarily, and you will not owe the landlord rent while you are living in substitute housing
- Sue the landlord for damages based on the difference between what the apartment or house is worth without the essential service and what you are required to pay under the lease
- Make your own arrangements for the service and deduct the cost from your rent
“I have not rested really since I’ve been here. I would like to move out here. I like my deposit return. And if that’s not possible, I want them to get rid of those charges,” she said.