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Watch out for those LIVE power lines!!
You can imagine what the water cooler talks entailed the day after Hurricane Irene swept through the Northeast.  Even two days after the storm, there was no shortage of discussions of who had power and where one lived in relation to another who had power.  Or that nearly every store was sold out of ice and flash lights.

As you can imagine, the loss of power leaves you without the modern convenience of a working refrigerator(to keep food from spoiling), hot showers, or the ability to cook food.  It’s been reported this power outage could last for days or even exceed a week, which can be a major source of discomfort.

Now imagine that you have roommates who are “like” your paying customers to live in your house and you don’t have the convenience of doing the simplest things because of the loss of power.  Am I at fault? Do I have to provide alternative housing? or is it survival mode – every roommate for themselves?

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to experience any inconvenience related to a power loss during or after the storm.  Although, just prior to the storm, I did stock my freezer up with three – ten pound bags of ice to keep food items cold.  It always seems like when you’re most prepared for the worst-case scenario, that’s when thing usually turn out better than expected.  Nevertheless, I really do feel fortunate that I didn’t have to live without electricity for some unknown time like my co-workers.


Thanks for the scare Irene, may be next time!

Getting back to the question, am I obligated to provide the convenience of hot showers, the ability to cook food during a natural disaster even after I told my roommates to prepare for the worst?

Creative Commons License photo credit: D.Fletcher


I did give away my three – ten bags of ice to a co-worker that lost power since it was taking up my entire freezer space.

  • Linda August 31, 2011, 10:14 am

    I think you would get a pass since hurricanes are considered “acts of god,” just like tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. Contracts are usually waived in these types of situations. After all, if you had lost power and couldn’t provide them with standard amenities, it’s not as if that was due to your negligence. Now, if you had stopped paying the electric bill and this resulting in power shut-off, that’s another story!

    • Mike August 31, 2011, 10:22 pm

      Linda, your thinking is right on with mine for natural disasters. I think 99% of the roommates would agree with my stand point, but there’s always that 1% that seems unreasonable and would hold out rent because of a natural disaster. With my roommates, I don’t think that would have been the case. I almost feel like had I lost power, my roommates and I would have helped each other out in terms of finding places to shower and finding ways to keep the food from spoiling until power is restored.

  • Sandy - yesiamcheap September 12, 2011, 3:13 pm


    I agree with Linda. If there is a system-wide failure that is beyond your control then I think your roommates can not fault you for loss of power. Now, if you had a generator that you hooked up to run only the things in your room, that would be different. The benefit of being a roommate landlord is that you’re suffering right along side them too.


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