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Author Topic: Gutter cleaning on rental property
tagurit
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This fall I received a notice from the property management company that it's my responsibility to clean the gutters. [Eek!] I pulled out my lease, and sure enough, it was listed under "Minor maintenance." Hmmmm.... since when? Anyhoo. I mentioned it to the receptionist when I paid my October rent, reminding her it was two units and I'd already been paying to have the lawn mowed, weeding flower beds, and raking leaves, for two units. The receptionist told me she'd pass my concerns on to the manager of the property I rent.

In November, when I hadn't heard anything or seen any gutter activity, I sent an email to my property manager, which was returned to me. Apparently she no longer worked for the company. So, I called the offices and found out who has this property now and an email address for them. I talked to the new manager a few days after that and mentioned an email I'd attempted to send to the previous manager that I would forward to her.

The following is a paragraph that was included in the email I sent to the property manager:

I mentioned to the new receptionist when I paid my October rent, that I'd received a notice about it being my responsibility to clean the gutters. I told her, then, that the gutters had not been cleaned in years, and in fact, have trees growing in them. On top of that, this is a two unit building and I have been keeping the lawn mowed, weeding flower beds, and raking leaves, for two units. I don't think it's going to be my responsibility to clean gutters for two units, especially when they're past what would be considered normal annual maintenance. My neighbor says he knows, for a fact, they have not been cleaned out in at least 6 years. I might consider paying a small portion of the job, if you want to contract to have it done. If you like, I can get a couple estimates. I won't pay for the whole job up front, though. They should be cleaned, as you can tell the eaves are lifting or warping from past ice buildups in them. There is likely to be some structural damage if left unresolved. I would hope the receptionist passed this info on to you as she said she would. In my opinion, it bears some attention. Perhaps if you have someone look into it, they might have a differing opinion and feel work on the gutters is unjustified. I defer to you since this isn't my property. I felt a word of caution was warranted, however.

I hadn't heard anything back and had been wondering recently if I should follow up with a phone call. I received the following from the new property manager via email today:

The owner said he will participate in helping with the cost up to $25.00.
We would charge $75.00 to clean out your gutters. This is something that needs to be done. Please supply a check for $50.00 to Expert Maintenance and we will solve the problem.


Maybe I should just suck it up, pay the $50 and get on with my life, but it pisses me off that these gutters haven't been cleaned in ages and now it falls on me to clean them. What do you think? Should I pay the $50? Am I responsible for these clogged gutters?

BTW, here's the way it's presented in my lease.

Minor Maintenance which is expected to be done by tenant includes the following:
5. Keep rain gutters free of leaves and debris.

ETA: The other unit has been vacant since before I moved in. I have no idea why.

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Posts: 8532 | From: Michigan | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
LittleDuck
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Seems to me this would be a liability in a rental property, danger of falling from a ladder perhaps? I've never been a renter, though. I have, however, cleaned many a gutter. Plus, if it will cost $75 to clean them and the owner will pay $25, why should you alone pay the rest? What about the person in the other unit?

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Posts: 2026 | From: 10 miles South of Boston | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
tagurit
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Sorry LittleDuck, you're too fast for me. Read my ETA.

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LittleDuck
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I would say, "NFBSK it, I'll do it," and then have a fall off the ladder. Then sue their asses. Then again, I have a bit of an evil streak.

I thought, when you mentioned your neighbor, you were talking about the other unit people. I'm also curious how long you've lived there, and why no one else moved into the other unit.

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"Silly customer, you cannot hurt a Twinkie." -Apu (The Simpsons)

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Jocko's Jolly
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Unfortunately, it is a part of your lease. The fact that you didn't notice it when yu signed the lease doesn't have anything to do with your liability. The fact that there are problems with the eaves, etc. should have been noted in the walkthrough papers/checklist that you did at the beginning of the lease.

I would chalk this one up to a learning experience and pay the $50. If, however, there does end up being structural damage and they try to stick you with the repair bill for that, you might be able to argue that at least some portion of the damage was caused prior to your lease period.

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Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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TrekkerScout
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Was the condition of the gutters noted on the inventory checklist provided to you at the time you occupied the unit? If the condition was not noted or there isn't a line listing for gutter condition, you may not be responsible despite what the lease agreement states. If the gutters were not maintained prior to your occupancy, then you cannot reasonably be held liable for damages resulting from the past negligence of the property managers.
Posts: 306 | From: Tacoma, WA | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
tagurit
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Well, TrekkerScout, there wasn't an inventory checklist provided to me at all. I moved in the first of March, when it was too cold to go rambling 'round in the yard much and certainly not up on ladders inspecting gutters, even if I knew they were my responsibility. It wasn't until spring that the trees sprang up. [Wink]

I was leaning more towards I'll pay $25 and they pick up $50. Past tenants didn't maintain them at all.

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TrekkerScout
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Were you required to file a security deposit? If you did and an inventory checklist was not provided to you at the commencement of your lease, your landlords are in violation of Section 554.608 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. You may want to relay that information to them the next time the topic of who is to pay for gutter cleaning comes up.
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tagurit
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I paid a security deposit to the property manager, who in turn deposited it into an account with a financial institution and provided me notice of where it's on deposit.

ETA: Going to the link you provided, Act 348 of 1972 is referenced in the addendum to my lease that provides information regarding the financial institution where my security deposit is held. I did receive blank inventory checklists. I didn't realize that's what you were talking about. ...more

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tagurit
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I called the manager of my property and told her it would be neigh impossible for me to give a checklist as every room and every surface had damage of one sort or another. This is an older house. I did email her a list of things that needed immediate attention and most of those were resolved. So, since I didn't actually complete the checklist, other than to her verbally, am I screwed when it comes time for me to move out?

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TrekkerScout
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quote:
Originally posted by tagurit:
So, since I didn't actually complete the checklist, other than to her verbally, am I screwed when it comes time for me to move out?

Not necessarily. The landlord is also supposed to fill out a termination checklist itemizing exactly what needs to be fixed so that they may withhold any or all of the security deposit. The termination checklist from the previous tenant is required to be on file and subject to your review. If the gutters have been clogged for years, it should have been noted on that checklist. If there is no mention of clogged gutters, you would still have a case that the landlord has been negligent in their duties to maintain the property between tenancies. You should not be held responsible for their previous inactions.
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tagurit
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Thank you for your help, TrekkerScout. One of the reasons I don't feel like paying the majority portion of the gutter cleaning is because, if the gutters had been maintained properly, it would just be a matter of hosing the gutters out. There are attachments for your garden hose that will blast debris along the gutter and into the downspout. But you can't use that appliance on a full gutter.

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Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
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AAMAH

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Jocko's Jolly
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quote:
Originally posted by tagurit:
Thank you for your help, TrekkerScout. One of the reasons I don't feel like paying the majority portion of the gutter cleaning is because, if the gutters had been maintained properly, it would just be a matter of hosing the gutters out. There are attachments for your garden hose that will blast debris along the gutter and into the downspout. But you can't use that appliance on a full gutter.

Not unless you want to get soaking wet!

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Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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ica171
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I was actually wondering about this the other day. I was out plasticking the windows and saw some sticks and stuff poking out of the gutters. We don't have a lease, though, just a tenant-at-will agreement, so I'll have to find that and see if it mentions anything.

I, too, would go with them paying the majority. You seem to be keeping other stuff up, it doesn't seem quite fair that you should have to pay for their negligence.

Posts: 384 | From: Iowa | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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