Tenants, landlord dispute over broken toilet

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A broken toilet is at the center of a dispute between two renters in Virginia Beach and their landlord. It all started when the toilet overflowed and flooded the couple’s apartment nearly two weeks ago.

The renters, Blair Stallings and Andy Harris, agree with the management company, Chesapeake Bay Realty, that the problem stems from a faulty flapper in the toilet. The tenants said the flapper malfunctioned, but the management company said the flooding occurred because of a “blockage” or “clogged toilet.”

“They’re not really hearing us,” said Stallings, who has lived in the Sea Pines Apartments since September. “We don’t have a voice, and this is the first time I’ve really felt helpless with anything in my life. We don’t really have any control, and it’s just like what they say is supposed to go.”

Stallings came home Jan. 22 to find firefighters at her apartment. She soon discovered her unit was underwater.

While phone records show Stallings called her landlord 22 minutes after the Virginia Beach Fire Department responded to the scene, Chesapeake Bay Realty did not answer the call. The management company said because the renters did not leave a message, they did not give proper notification about the incident as required in the leasing agreement.

The landlord told the couple there was nothing to fix, and then four days later showed up at the apartment after contractors started work to fix some of the damage. A restoration company came on Jan. 27 to assess the situation. On Jan. 29, a plumber was hired by the management company to fix the flapper, wax ring and a missing bolt from the toilet.

The restoration company told the couple the wood flooring, bathroom tile and vanity had to be replaced. There is at least $4,000 in damages, Stallings said.

“If it was something that we did, I would 100 percent take responsibility for it and pay and not ask questions,” Stallings said.

Chesapeake Bay Realty has not communicated the total cost or exactly what needs to be repaired, Harris said. The company has told the couple the cost of the damage is their responsibility. The company has also offered to work out a financial arrangement to fix the damage in a timely manner.

“It’s just disheartening,” Stallings said. “We work really hard to do the right thing, we work hard at being good neighbors and tenants.”

Stallings says she has gotten a lawyer and is willing to fight this issue in court. She said she is confident the toilet was not clogged at the time of the incident.

Stallings said she does not have renter’s insurance. The management company said they require all their tenants to have renter’s insurance. Chesapeake Bay Realty has also told the couple it will not file a claim under its insurance to fix the damage.

WAVY.com did try to reach out to Chesapeake Bay Realty. An unknown man answered the phone Wednesday and told WAVY.com to call back in five minutes. There was no answer to WAVY.com’s 10 follow-up calls.

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