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What are tenants' rights when the hard-wired smoke alarms start going off repeatedly in the middle of the night and there's no response from the management or emergency maintenance requests?

They started going off for 2-3 seconds every few minutes (usually 3, has gone from 2 to 10) since 0215. None are in need of new backup batteries (and only the one(s) in need of a new battery beep when needed, and much less annoyingly than a full alarm), they're regularly dusted, and we haven't used the oven in a few days. It stopped after half an hour, then started AGAIN at 0815. Next time they start, I'm going to take the diagonal cutters and dike every last one of them out.

edit 0930: A maintenance guy showed up and reset each of the smoke detectors. It didn't make any difference, but at least he got an earful of the beeping every few minutes.

And Vogon informed me that diking them out would just make the whole system beep, so I am going to locate the speakers. And a hammer.

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
gamahucheur
Nov. 23rd, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
At the previous complex in which I lived, an alarm right outside my window went off at something like 02:00, in response to a power failure, and the alarm just continued to scream. After a while, I got a hammer and beat it until it stopped. That actually took a lot of beating.

Many people witnessed my doing that, but no one from management spoke to me about it.
oddharmonic
Nov. 24th, 2007 07:39 am (UTC)
People here tend to call 911 before complaining to management. The latest new office representative was surprised when I went in to file a complaint of minor vandalism to Vogon's car. (I just wanted the incident on file with the management.)

My neighbors know me as the person that knocks on their door and asks them to be quiet before I call the police. Needless to say, I am thrilled that Dallas police can now issue a ticket or arrest on noise complaints without having to reach a three-warning threshold.
7leaguebootdisk
Nov. 23rd, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
Well, it renders your unit uninhabitable, I would expect. You have law (case law if nothing else) about just what that entitles you to, at a minimum, rent credit for the time, perhaps putting you up in a hotel.
oddharmonic
Nov. 24th, 2007 07:49 am (UTC)
We went without hot water for a week once waiting for them to replace a broken water heater. We asked for a rent credit; we got a thank-you note. I don't like that, but it's a reasonable trade-off for the fact that they don't annoy tenants like some places I've lived.

I am just exceptionally crabby when I don't get six hours of uninterrupted sleep.
7leaguebootdisk
Nov. 24th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
Well, there's what they offer, vs what you could get in small claims court. And of course, while I expect kicking you out for doing so is illegal, unless the law says otherwise, they probably can kick you out for no reason at all.

The Nolo press book is always handy.
moon_orchid
Nov. 23rd, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
I worked in property management for several years.

It's very unlikely that the management will offer you anything in compensation for the alarms going off. There's hardly a case you could make that would make them liable according to the lease you signed.

The best thing you can do is continue to attempt to contact them, until you receive a response, and make their lives a little miserable. If you don't get a response, continue to document when you have called, who you left messages with, etc, and then contact the owner or main management company (if it's got a corporate office) and make their lives a little miserable. The last thing a manager wants is an upset resident calling the corporate office...it makes them look bad.

It's really not a good idea to destroy the alarms. They could hold you liable and charge you for repair.

One last thing you could do - is call the fire department the next time the alarms go off. There's a point where building owners are charged for unnecessary trips. It would also help to document the issue.

Hope it gets resolved soon.
oddharmonic
Nov. 24th, 2007 06:05 am (UTC)
We don't mind paying for repairs. We do that in most cases because it's faster than waiting for their maintenance (we went without hot water for a week when the hot water heater died) and I like knowing that the person doing skilled repair work is qualified.

The management here had demonstrated many times that they're ineffective. I don't expect better since the previous owner sold our complex up the river to Alliance Communities, but we live here because our unit is tucked in a relatively quiet area compared to surrounding buildings and complexes.

The fire department does not respond to our fire alarms since the integrated alarm system relays that information. Vogon had that disabled due to a similar going-off-for-no-apparent-reason issue several years ago and it wouldn't relay even if it was on because we don't have a landline phone.

I should expect aging hard-wired alarms (over 10 years old) to behave like old alarms. I think I'll disconnect the speakers when they're not shrieking and rely on our personally-supplied fire alarms, which are newer and have a more effective sensor combination.
redqueenofevil
Nov. 23rd, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
Aargh! That's really crappy. If it still continues, the landlord should pay for a hotel room until it's fixed.
oddharmonic
Nov. 24th, 2007 07:56 am (UTC)
Our complex management's idea of reimbursement is offering a thank-you note. If we had gone to the knockoff handbags and accessories party they sponsored and donated enough canned food, we could have won a painted accent wall or a $100 rent credit. I wonder how many people actually did that. (We're not against donating food. I might be against knockoff handbags, though.)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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