Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Massachusetts

My roommate and I have been adjusting the thermostat on the water heater to below a temperature hot enough to cause burns, but still hot enough to safely do dishes (120 degrees).

My landlord, however, has been turning it back up to between 135-140.

This has resulted in both my roommate and I getting low grade burns while washing dishes when we don't realize he has put the thermostat back up.

The most recent of these occurred just recently, and we have documented the burn with photographs.

Does he have any legal right to adjust the thermostat (we pay for the oil to heat the water), and is there any course of action we can take against him?

Thank you for your time.

Asked on 11/13/10, 1:52 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Jonas Jacobson Law Offices of Jonas Jacobson

Have you spoken to your landlord about this issue? It's unclear to me why the landlord would want to adjust the heat up.

Surely he recognizes that the higher the heat at which he runs the heater, the faster it is going to break down (water heaters have varying life expectancies, which depend, to a degree on usage). It must be the case that he believes he is doing you some kind of favor.

If your landlord is somehow maliciously turning up the heat with the intention of burning you while you do your dishes, then I would urge you to speak to a live attorney, and to get away from this psychopath!

As far as a cause of action, most talented personal injury attorneys I know would be reluctant to handle a "low grade burn" case, simply because it would be hard to establish your damages. You are, however, wise to document the problems you experience at the apartment. In case these problems continue, you need to begin building up evidence.

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Answered on 11/18/10, 7:27 am

The Landlord may be trying to comply with the health code, which requires water temperature at a certain level for dish washing. I would suggest you discuss the matter with your landlord to determine why he is changing the water temperature.

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Answered on 11/18/10, 9:19 am

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