Who foots the bill for a leaking hot water heater?
My mother in law has got herself in a bit of a bind. She rents a 1 bedroom apartment and is responsible for heat and hot water (both gas). Her gas bill for June and July was in excess of $300.00, which seems completely unreasonable. She notified the gas company of this and ultimately discovered that the hot water heater in the basement had been leaking.
She talked to the gas company about her normal uses of gas in those months and came up with the conservative estimate that the gas leak cost her $250. She notified her landlord that she intended to withhold this amount from her rent check as the malfunction of a hot water heater is the responsibility of the landlord. The landlord countered by offering to allow her to deduct $100. The $150 dollar difference represents about 200% of her disposable income for a month.
I told her that I would likely stand firm and withhold the full $250. The water heater itself was old (expected to fail) and not being proactive about it was negligent of the owner. The way I see it, it's only right for the landlord to foot the bill here. Am I being naive?
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