Landlord driving me insane… everyone says we have no rights


I am absolutley fed up with renting this house that I am in. We rented this house in March of this year (2009). Nice big 3 br, 2 ba, house with partial basement and bonus room. 750/mo. rent. Granted, it is a really old house so some problems are to be expected. When we viewed the house before renting, the repair men were still working on the house and we were told that painting, cleaning, and other repairs still needed to be done and would be done prior to our moving in. We signed the lease, moved in, and began noticing that nothing had been done from the time we viewed it other than some junk in the basement had been removed. No painting had been done and previously mentioned repairs had not been done either. All downstairs windows are painted shut and do not open. Two large windows upstairs have big gaps that do not seal the weather out. Only one window in this whole house has a screen on it, and it is painted shut as well.

We decided to not make a big deal out of any of it at first. Then we noticed a sump pump in the basement was pumping raw sewage into the front yard. Landlord took two months to fix this and told us that raw sewage in the yard was not a health hazard as long as we made our kids stay away from it (??? seriously???). Later, we find animal feces in almost every corner of a dirt shelf that runs around the entire basement. Landlord never has done anything about that, but we have removed as much of the feces as we can get to. There is still some feces in a couple of the far corners that we cannot reach to get it out.

When we moved in, landlord told us that he would repair the roof when the weather got warmer. Now that it is August, and the ceiling upstairs is about to fall in from retaining water, the landlord finally has someone working on the roof, but we think the ceiling upstairs that now needs to be replaced will be another fight.

The fireplace in the living room leaks and has a somewhat heavy board that is “supposed” to seal it off covering the fireplace. The board can easily be pulled down by my two year old, and has a tendency to fall down when it is storming with high winds outside. We recently found birds living in the fireplace the last time the board fell. Landlord has done nothing to fix the unsealed board or remove the birds.

To top everything off, I have severe allergies that I can normally control with meds but have now been really bothering me nonstop after about a month after moving in this house. It is getting to the point that my allergy meds are no longer working. I don’t know if it is the feces in the basement, the possible mold in the basement or in the ever sagging upstairs ceiling, or what is making me so sick in this house, but the landlord seems to think that he doesn’t have to do anything. Even told us once that he rented this house to us “as is”. I didn’t know that rental housing could be rented out “as is”.

We have no idea what to do. Everyone we try to call and get advice from says that our area (Putnam County) is not subject to the landlord tenant act. We’ve basically been told that a landlord in our county can rent a leaky cardboard box to a family and there is no laws against it. I even contacted the health department that transferred me to some environmental department and they told me that I basically have no rights and cannot get anything done unless I hire a lawyer and even then I would be wasting my money because of the lack of laws that protect renters. Is this true? Are there really no laws in some areas that protect renters from these kinds of living conditions? Are there really no housing codes that landlords have to maintain?

Any advice… please… Thanks in advance.

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Edited on: Saturday, May 12th, 2012 12:00 am
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