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Relevant summary at bottom, if you don't want to read a background story. I am renting this property and do not own it.

Long story short I had a NEMA 14-50 EV charger installed in my rental house in Seattle, with the permission of the owner. This was roughly a year ago. The electrician lied to me and told me I did not need an inspection. His company then called me saying that I did, and they went ahead and had charged me for it. It then failed inspection because he hadn't installed a GFI. On an exterior circuit... So they came back and fixed it (for free) but completely botched my panel and disconnected my water heater. I then didn't have hot water for 3 days. I tried to let them fix it (again) and they promised to send out an emergency dispatch that day. I called 4 times and was told they were coming, and sat around all day waiting; they never showed up. The next day I called a different company who came out on an emergency call and fixed it. The new electrician made many comments about things they'd done incorrectly and fixed some of their minor mistakes for me, free of charge. Since this was an emergency call on Labor day they charged me their holiday + emergency rate of $500. No cheap, but I wanted to take warm showers again and the other company did not seem inclined to fix their mistakes.

I was understandably angry and called them, demanding them to reimburse me for the emergency service after I tried repeatedly to allow them to fix the mistake and they failed to. I received a verbal agreement from the site manager that he would. Nothing happened, of course, and then they started ignoring or not returning my calls. Eventually I gave up as the frustration was not worth it.

Now I actually do not recall if an inspector came by a second time to approve the fix. Over the past week they have been calling and emailing me saying that they failed to document that the GFI was installed and that another inspection is required, or I could photograph the panel for them. I am inclined to tell them to go pound sand and to stop contacting me. I may also tell them I will send a picture of the updated panel, if they reimburse me the $500 as agreed upon last year.

Should they be unwilling and I just continue to ignore them, is there anything negative that can happen to me? Or is this something that is now entirely their problem?

Summary:

A year ago a private electrician incorrectly installed an external 220V outlet on the side of a house I am renting (no GFI). The owner was consulted before the work was done. They "fixed" it and in the process disconnected my water heater. I attempted to allow them to correct this but they no-showed, so I had a 3rd party fix the panel. Now they are asking me for a picture of the panel to confirm they did install the GFI but after so much consternation and money spent fixing the issue, I am disinclined to work with them unless failing to do so can cause me issues.

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  • Are you the property owner, or the tenant? Either way, it sounds like they are in a pickle with their records and need you to help them get their paperwork in order. Otherwise why the sudden interest in contacting you after a year? I would hold out for a deal to get reimbursed. Because you, personally, don't "need" it to be inspected, do you? Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 22:07
  • In my view, this question would be better with much of the backstory removed, leaving only that which is essential to make the legal issue clear Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 22:10
  • It could be edited for length, but there are some essential nuances involved, and actually some missing information. Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 15:44
  • @MichaelHall included clarifications that I am a renter.
    – brenzo
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 21:10
  • @DavidSiegel I understand, but without the background I might come off as an obstinate and unreasonable person, which I don't feel I am. Had they not caused me much stress and cost me quite a lot of money I would happily have sent the picture without issue. That being said, I've modified it so those wishing to know the issue without backstory can do so.
    – brenzo
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 21:11

1 Answer 1

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There are some consequences for you, under the Seattle Residential Code. Per R103.5

Any person violating or failing to comply with the provisions of this code shall be subject to a cumulative civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $500 per day for each violation from the date the violation occurs or begins until compliance is achieved.

$182,500 per year.

Also under R103.4,

Whenever any building or structure is being occupied contrary to the provisions of this code, the building official may order such occupancy discontinued and the building or structure, or portion thereof, vacated by notice.

There should be a notation on your panel indicating permit number and approval, but if you have the permit number, you can check if the inspection was done and the work was approved (I think this will report status). The legal burden of assuring that the work was done correctly and paperwork is in order ultimately falls on the owner, though the city at least initially talks to the contractor.

Insofar as a customer taking a picture doesn't count as an actual final inspection, I suspect that some cost- and time-saving short-cuts were taken.

Following up on the new information about being a tenant, the primary legal question is whether you have a duty of care towards the landlord, since in engaging this company, the landlord's interest may be put at risk. The landlord may have protected his interest via a clause in the lease saying "you must get written permission to modify the property, and you assume full liability for resulting damages", so first thing to check is what the lease says (perhaps look for a "Tenant's duty of care" clause). In lieu of clear evidence that you caused damage to the owner (economic damage, by negligence w.r.t. his need to have proper permits and the whopping fines that follow), I don't see what the risk to you would be in just washing your hands of the problem.

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  • Good info in this answer, but is it significant that the first company that allegedly failed inspection is the one calling, and not the city electrical inspector? The root question had to do with ignoring a private company, not the city. Unless the city is breathing down the electrician's neck, and will turn to the homeowner next if there isn't a resolution. Knowing whether it passed a second time is the crucial missing piece here. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 23:52
  • The inspectors don't call, you just get red-tagged or an official notice in the mail. You don't want to get the enforcers on your case. The rule is "If final inspection passed, then pound sand". The company may know that the city is on the brink of taking action. I think the relevant legal question here is what risk the owner faces, and it's pretty draconian.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 0:32
  • Good points. Over to the OP to channel the Q & A further in a meaningful way to arrive at a useful solution. Because the original question was about ignoring a private firm, not about ignoring the city... Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 15:46
  • @user6726 Thank you. I searched for my property and the inspection is marked as "completed" but in the details section there is an outstanding required inspection.
    – brenzo
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 21:17
  • I am happy to work with the city directly to resolve this or attempt to get the agreed upon reimbursement (I would even settle for them partially reimbursing me e.g. half). I don't want to cause the owner consternation so I will reply to the contractor and see if they are willing to work out a deal, although it sounds like I may not have much leverage here in this case. And you are correct, this company seems quite disorganized and prone to cost/corner-cutting. Lesson learned about going with the cheapest quote.
    – brenzo
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 21:19

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