Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective:  by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: I recently moved from a house that I had been renting. A few months before moving, I noticed a crack in the window above the stall shower. I don’t know how or when the crack happened, but I notified the property manager and requested that he replace the glass. Nothing was done about this window until after I vacated the property, and now the cost of glass replacement has been charged to my security deposit. I’m wondering if temperature changes could have caused the crack, if the window should have been tempered safety glass, and if the glass should have been replaced before I moved. What do you think?  Kessa

Dear Kessa: :  There is no way to know with certainty what caused the glass to crack. The cause might have been temperature changes, but no one will ever know for sure. Therefore, you have an unsolvable point of contention with the property manager. You do not believe you broke the window, but the property manager apparently disagrees and holds you responsible for the damage.

On the other hand, there is an overriding issue. The property manager was remiss in neglecting the glass repair when it was first reported, while the shower was still being used by you and your family. Failure to replace broken glass near a shower exposes occupants to potential injury. Therefore, the property manager was professionally negligent. If you can prove that you notified him of the crack while you still occupied the home, you may have a strong case against the management company and the property owner. Hopefully, your notice regarding the cracked window was written, not verbal. If so, you could probably prevail in small claims court.

As for glass requirements at the shower: Tempered safety glass is required unless the window sill is higher than five feet above the shower floor.

Dear Barry: We moved out of our mobile home and are having trouble selling it. The park management has a requirement that they must approve all prospective buyers. So far, we’ve sent three buyers to their office. In each case, the manager sold a park-owned mobile home to our buyers. The park got the sale, while we continue to pay monthly rent for our park space. This seems very underhanded. Is there anything we can do about it?  Thomas

Dear Thomas: :  There are two things you can do to prevent the park from stealing your buyers. First, you should accompany your prospective buyers to the park office, rather than sending them to the office on their own. Just tell the buyers, “Let’s go over to the park office and I’ll help you to get approved.” The park owner or manager will be less likely to pull a fast one with you sitting right there.

The other thing you should do is to make sure your mobile home is competitively marketed. This means the mobile home and yard area should be well maintained, and the unit should not be overpriced. If the condition and price of your unit compete well with those that are owned by the park, your buyers will be less likely to buy one from the park management.