Social Question

rojo's avatar

Ever hear of an Environmental Sensitive?

Asked by rojo (24159points) January 29th, 2015

A renter called me with an unusual request; she wants me to change out the #6 breaker in the electrical panel box.

According to her, she had what seemed like a heart attack while in bed Tuesday night. She did what any normal person would do in that situation, she called a friend of hers who, again according to her, is an “Environmental Sensitive”, to come over in the morning and go through the house with her to find the cause of her distress. Between them they went through the entire house and determined that the culprit was the #6 breaker and that is had a minor defect that caused it to emit electrical impulses that triggered the heart attack like symptoms.

I am not sure why it has chosen now, 14 months into her lease, to do whatever it is that it is doing. It looks like one of the original breakers so has been doing its job for the last 27 years without incident. This breaker controls the outlets in the kitchen, not the bedroom, and is located in the electrical panel on the exterior of the home on a wall that is not the bedroom wall and is, in fact two rooms away from her bedroom. But all that aside she is adamant that this breaker is the cause of her near death experience.

She is a good tenant, takes care of the place, doesn’t throw parties irritating the neighbors and pays her rent in a timely fashion so I will change the offending breaker out for her but still…...

I have looked up what an Environmental Sensitive is (actually, all I could find was on Environmental Sensitivities so I had to interpolate) and so am wiser now than I was 24 hours ago. I was just wondering if anyone out there is one, or has known one, or dealt with one, and can relate to what this woman is going through?

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22 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Nothing you do (or don’t do) in the breaker box will fix her problem.
You can spend a few thousand dollars on a cheap thermal imager to study the box. You can hire an EMI (electromagnetic interference) consultant with a Narda test unit for several hundred dollars. You can…. The results will be the same. Nothing.
If the old breaker is fine the new breaker will do nothing.
Document everything. Including the name of the Environmental Sensitive.
I’m guessing you are being set up for the tenant to break the lease for health reasons. Get ready.

syz's avatar

If it’s cheap to replace it and it makes her happy, go for it. As for the rest of it? Bullshit. Ridiculous bullshit.

jaytkay's avatar

I would tell her about the awesome pills you have for Environmental Sensitivity. 100% effective! And only $850 for a month’s supply!

And then sell her sugar pills for $850/month.

Yes, I am joking, don’t engage lunatics on their lunar turf.

I’m guessing you are being set up for the tenant to break the lease for health reasons.

I wouldn’t be sorry to lose that tenant.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Let me make a prediction and bet a coffee on the outcome.

1) You will replace the breaker like a good, concerned landlord.
2) The problem will not go away.
3) E.S. will be called back, only this time she will want to charge you for services.
4) You will either refuse and be labelled a bad landlord or you will agree and labelled a patsy.
If you want to play along, tell her it is her microwave that is causing the trouble. There are plenty of cases in the literature that show microwave radiation can cause problems (of course the dosages are more than 10,000 times the dose she gets from hers but that is not the point.) Stand in front of her microwave with a cheap radar detector (not the fancy high quality Escort units that reject spurious signals). Do this when she is at home and document it. The detector will beep when the oven is turned on. See? There’s your problem. Then tell her she needs to remove her microwave.
She won’t.

Take photos of everything. Old breaker, new breaker installed, her microwave.
The tenant is planing to break the lease within 3 months. (Shall we bet a regular coffee on it?)

She also has an unemployed cousin paralegal who is willing to file papers for free so she can sue you. (If I am right on this one you owe me a fancy coffee with whipped cream and chocolate bits on top. Deal?)

Stinley's avatar

I would not pander to this nonsense. Tell her if she wants to call a qualified electrician and pay for this non-essential work herself then fine but you are not doing it.

Cupcake's avatar

Tell her that since there is no violation of the terms of the lease, you will change the breaker only at her expense. You can word this as warm and flowery as you would like. I might even go so far as to pay for one electric inspection… but further demands/inspections/unnecessary changes would be at her expense.

I agree with @LuckyGuy to take pictures. A lot of pictures. Dated.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Cupcake @Stinley both bring up good point about having her incur some or all of the cost.
There needs to be some negative consequence, however small, so you do not

If you have an electrician change the breaker, do an inspection and give you a clean bill of health that will be a good record in case she is bucking for a lawsuit – (and a fancy coffee for me.)

jerv's avatar

Unless this person collapses whenever within 500 feet of a wifi router, they’re full of it.

As for the cost, if there is any validity to her claim, then she has a disability that can get documented by a physician, meaning you might have the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations… though not necessarily at your expense, merely allowing her to pay an electrician to swap the breaker. It varies a bit by state. If she can’t prove a disability, then she can either suck it up or break the lease.

canidmajor's avatar

There is a chance that this person honestly believes this stuff. I would recommend that ALL communication be, on your part, sensitive and considerate. Stick up for your rights, but remember that in this day and age anything and everything can be recorded. If it ends up being some kind of (heaven forbid) legal event, it will help you a LOT to have everything on your part be almost cloying in sweetness and concern. While maintaining your ground.
Good luck with this, it sounds like a potential mine field. And if they really are doing this to break the lease, it may be less of a headache for you to (after a reasonable amount of objection) to let her break the lease.

Unbroken's avatar

Ha ha… Someone is sleep deprived and took coast to coast a little too seriously… Idiot test anyone?

Just tell her given her sensitivies she is better off protecting herself… some people

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Unbroken Hilarious. The sad thing is that naive people will send these charlatans money.

rojo's avatar

@Unbroken I will pass on the info about the Premium Body Harmonizer ($123.33 plus shipping) to her! and replace the $3.98 + tax breaker. A cheap fix if it makes her happy and prevents heart attacks.

rojo's avatar

Early on she asked that I cut back the branches on the surrounding trees because they were too close to the roof and soffit of the house. Not touching it mind you, just too close.

Off the hook. Just got a text saying she had an electrician friend come by and replace the breaker herself.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Interesting. Is she going to send you the bill?

Coloma's avatar

Haha…people are nuts.
I’d toss in a deluxe tinfoil hat when you visit to change out the breaker.

rojo's avatar

No, I don’t think so @LuckyGuy. I think it is just that I told her I couldn’t get to it until next week.

Experience has shown that many times a minor problem will solve itself if you give it enough space.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@rojo Good approach. Non-confrontational and sympathetic.

I’m not buying you a coffee just yet. It is early. We need to revisit this issue in 3 months.

gailcalled's avatar

I have a very good friend (and a first cousin) who is plagued by environmental allergies, including sunlight, porphyria, and electricity. She is aware of issues within several seconds of being contaminated or exposed and would be pretty uncomfortable (or dead) after 14 months.

My friend has years of medical diagnoses and documented confirmations of her issues. Your renter should be able to do the same. “An Environmental Sensitive” sounds like a dowser, a psychic, or a user of crystals

gorillapaws's avatar

Tell her you will pay for the replacement if her “environmental sensitive” friend can pick out the “damaged” one out of 19 other identical breakers.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think a judge would give one bit of credence to an “environmental sensitive” story as an excuse to break her lease.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Tell her you’ve consulted your medium, and the ghosts in her apartment say there’s nothing wrong with the breaker. Problem solved.

Zaku's avatar

Most of the responders seem have a lot of hostility towards this type of thinking.

Without trying to engage the issue with you all about whether there could be any truth to it, I would still observe that, having known people who believe in things of this general nature, they mostly tend NOT to be money-oriented schemers out to rip other people off. They tend to be very well-meaning, though they may (in some cases) also tend to be bothered by things that others wouldn’t be. My bet is that on average, such people would tend to be good renters.

Indulging their concerns, especially when it is a $4 27-year-old part, seems much wiser than getting arrogant or hostile towards them. Good job, rojo, on being open-minded and curious enough to read up on what the renter was talking about.

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