Landlord won't fix central AC unit, what am I to do?

SeeMsUnCeRtAiN13June 17, 2004

My husband and I have lived in this apt. for 5 years now. And since June 23, 2003, we've been w/out central AC. Took them 2 weeks during the hottest summer I've ever endured to finally get a repairman out here just to tell us that "yep, it's broken alright!". My response: "REALLY? I hadn't noticed!!!" Three grueling weeks later they sent 2 repairmen out, to get on the roof of the building and check out the rest of the unit up there. We were then told that the whole unit needed to be replaced, that it couldn't be fixed and that would involve them renting a crane (our building doesn't have a roof hatch) to hoist the new unit up there and get the old one down and that it might take some time b/c it'd be hard to rent a crane in the busy summer months.....and they would also require a few days of decent weather in order to install it. We've had plenty of consecutive days of GREAT weather.....and I see cranes at rental places, just sitting there, not being rented out (there's one just a mile from us, so I know this to be a fact). They did install a window unit for us last year, but then took it out a couple months later while we still needed it. The window unit could only be put in our bedroom and we froze in there and sweated in every other room in the apt.

This year I've continued hounding them about it. They finally told me they'd replace it the 2nd week in May. Well that came and went....still no central AC. I finally cornered a repairman, who was in the building, over a month ago and asked him to put a window unit in, and he did. He said he'd be back to close up the window better (our windows open side-to-side, not up and down) the following day. Well, he never showed up. But here's the kicker, 2 hours after he installed it, it quit working. Two weeks later they finally sent out a guy who said "yeah it's broken, the motor's shot!.....I'll be back on Sunday w/ a new one". HE NEVER CAME! I'm so fed up! It's hotter in here than it is outside & in the hallways of the building. I can't open my windows b/c the screens aren't worth a damn.....the number of bugs that come in through them is insane! But I have to have the one decent window open b/c we desperately need the fresh air in here. We can't cook anything in the oven or on the stovetop....and forget about a nice hot shower! I walk 2 feet from my bedroom door to the bathroom and break a sweat. This isn't right. And the repairman told me that basically, they're ready to replace the unit, but they're having problems w/ the owners. Apparently they don't want to pay for it. It'd cost too much for the unit and the crane rental.....and it's an older building than all their others. Yet right now they're putting in central AC into some other apts. they own......we think it's b/c they're newer and in a better area.

I've written them letters and they claim they've never received them. My husband actually took a 3 page letter down to them last week. It's just that calling them daily isn't working, so maybe sitting in their air conditioned offices will be better!!! The claimed someone would be out here to put in another window unit for us 3 days ago....they never came, and we've been calling them since. We NEED a window unit in here NOW! But what we really need and deserve is our central AC back, in working's in our lease, it's what we're paying for, but not getting.

And according to the repairman, "it's insane what they [the landlords] get away with."

What else can I do? I've tried reporting them to places but I just get run around in circles. I don't want a bad relationship w/ our landlord, but this is insane! They're not holding up their end of the deal, so why should we? I've even contacted the local news who take care of things of this nature, but they have yet to get back to me. My landlord's website, that I just found this evening, states they "retain great relationships w/ their tenants and strive for greatness". BULL!

Would this classify them as slumlords? And if so how could I report them?


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If this helps any, the landlord only seems to replace things that help their pockets swell w/ money. Like when the coin-op laundry machines were broken into, they replaced them w/ ones where you needed tokens from their offices to use them. But they have yet to replace the NUMEROUS burnt out lights inside and outside of the building, it's not safe at all outside anymore, it's been pitch black for 1 1/2 years! The fire extinguishers don't have tags on them, and our floor doesn't even have one...there's a box for it, but it's missing the actual extinguisher! My bathroom exhaust fan has been broken since we had a leak from an upstairs apt.....4 1/2 year ago!!! SLUMLORD?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 5:01AM
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My major question - why are you still there? It's a great renter's market right now, and you could have been in a new place last summer.

"I've written them letters and they claim they've never received them." That's what CERTIFIED, RETURN RECIEPT REQUESTED mail is for, to prove that you sent thme and that they got them.

What state are you in? Most states have a "Residential Landlord and Tenant Act" that explains what you can do when there is a failure to fix, and what steps you must follow before taking each one. Invariably, it

In AZ, you can LEGALLY (as in they can't evict you for doing this):

* break the lease (it's a formal notice that says "fix ___ or I'm outta here) and move out with no penalties. They even have to give you back your deposits here.

* pay for the repairs yourself and deduct them from the rent (limited usefulness when you are talking AC units).

* move into a hotel or other housing and DEDUCT the cost from the rent until the repairs are made.

OR - call a local TV station with a really aggressive consumer advocate program and ask them to help the matter. Often seeing their names and apartments on the evening news is all it takes.

As for the missing lights and fire extinguishers - call them and ask for the name of their lawyer. If they ask why, say that in case a guest falls in the unlit hallway and injures themselves, you want to know who to sue ... usually that gets results.

Check zoning regs for your town - you might b eable to get the place certified "uninhabitable" or have the fire department come donw on htem with some heavy fines for violating regs about lighting and extinguishers.

Get a digital camera and TAKE PICTURES.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 7:36AM
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Why are we still here? Well, it's a great apt., despite it's major AC issue. We had planned on living here at least one more year. And our credit has recently turned sourish. We tried finding a new place last year and w/ the credit checks that were done, we didn't fit the requirements for living there.

I have sent them certified letters....I KNOW they've gotten them, but they claim they haven't, or it got lost. Lame excuses.

I'm in PA, and have been online al evening looking up what I can possibly do in this situation. Most articles say I HAVE to have heat, but not AC. Which I think is bull b/c w/out AC, this place is uninhabitable....I could get heat stroke in here!

I have contacted a local TV station about a month ago, after I saw a story they did about local landlords and them cheating their tenants. They also weren't up-to-date on their fire code regs. They have yet to get back to me though.

We're just deathly afraid that they'll try and evict us for coming down hard on them, then we won't have anywhere to live.

Oh and believe me, I've taken pictures of EVERYTHING!

Thanks for your help, I'll be checking out the zoning regs. for my area!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 8:50AM
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in the meantime- fix the screens in the windows- it's not much of a project, and the wheel-thingie that sets the cord is something that's moved from apartment to apartment to my first house with me- shockingly useful tool to have.

then- tell them to get you some bloody FANS in there in the meantime...

and in PA, I think the only people who 'deserve' AC in the eyes of thed law are the elderly...

or I'd have turned in several foster parents for putting kids in uninsulated attics in the summer.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 2:10PM
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"We're just deathly afraid that they'll try and evict us for coming down hard on them,"

If PA has the same Landlord-Tenant acts that AZ does, it is illegal as hell for them to retaliate. As in you can collect 3x the rent in damages if they try.

Have fun with this link :)
(complaint form)

And call your state represtntative (and city councilman) and ask them for a copy of any applicable laws.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 8:43PM
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you might also check w/ the state housing dept. to see if it would be permissible under state law to pay your rent into a escrow account instead of to the landlord until they fix the problem.

You may not be entitled to AC in the eyes of the law, but if it's in your lease, they're breaking your contract, and that's a legal matter. That might justify your paying the lease into escrow. (you can't just withhold it completely; they probably could evict you for that)

It might be your only lever, so see if the state has someone in their housing dept. that could help you.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 1:55PM
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"then- tell them to get you some bloody FANS in there in the meantime..."
We had bought our own fans, two of them to be exact....but they only blew around the hot air, not really doing much good.

"it is illegal as hell for them to retaliate."
I know they wouldn't legally be allowed to evict us, but it happens to people every day....and landlords get away w/ it!

"Get a digital camera and TAKE PICTURES."
Oh don't worry, I've taken pics of everything months ago!

My husband & I had heard a lot of noise Friday afternoon before he went off to work. And out in the building's front stairwell were workmen and they were using some saw w/ a compressor to cut something. My husband called after he left to tell me that while leaving, he also saw them on the roof. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but the ONLY thing I could htink of that they were doing.....was putting in a roof hatch. My husband had already been planning to stop by the landlord's office on his way to work....and he called again after he visited them and he had great news. They were indeed putting in a roof hatch and would be working on our central AC and 2 other apts's AC over the weekend. And coem 7 am Sat. morning, they were back working on the roof hatch and at 8:30 knocked on my apt. door to begin replacing the unit....and right before noon we had our central AC back.....JUST 6 DAYS SHY OF IT BEING A YEAR SINCE IT INITIALLY BROKE! We had forgotten just nice AC was, and central AC at that! The maintenance guy said they cut a roof hatch to get the new unit up there and so they didn't have to rent a crane for $750.....and they'd eventually need to use this roof hatch again for othre people's AC.....I'm just so shocked that this is the 1st time this has EVER happened w/ this was built in 1970 or so.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 3:06PM
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Glad that it worked out finally! However, they could have had done it in much less than 1 year.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 5:03PM
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After having been an apartment maintenance supervisor for more than 20 years i never thought i would ever offer this advice to a tenant, but here goes. Believe it or not, one of the biggest gripes amongst landlords is the fact that the courts usually favor the tenants. The reason most tenants have a hard time is because they don't know their legal rights.
Once you have entered into a lease, both parties, landlord and tenant are bound to the provisions of that lease. In effect, you are required to pay your rent on time and live within certain limitations concerning noise, pets, number of people in the dwelling, no alterations to the structure, etc, etc. In turn, the landlord is obligated by law to keep the dwelling up to all applicable building and health code standards and to maintain the dwelling in the condition it was in at the time the lease was instituted. By example, in many cases the need to supply air conditioning is legally determined by the climatic zone where you live. In some northern states AC is an option, whereas on the Gulf Coast it is considered essential. However, even if it is an option in your climatic region, if it was there, and if it was working when you signed the lease, the landlord is legally obligated to maintain it. The question now becomes, how do you bring pressure to bear upon a landlord to fulfill his end of the lease? God knows, the landlord will use all the legal powers at his command to get his money and insure you live up to the lease, now it is your turn, but be real careful here. Legally there is a right and a wrong way to go. We all know that if you withhold the rent he will have an eviction notice on your door in three for four days, right? WRONG. there is a legal way to withhold rent until the services are rendered.
Begin by serving the landlord a written work order for the repairs that need to be made, and allow them a reasonable period of time to effect repairs. This is a touchy point, what is reasonable? The court will determine that it is reasonable to expect the landlord to at least contact you and inspect the damage with 3 days. And the landlord should be able to give you an approximate date as to when to expect the work to be done. Usually not more than 7 days.
I would make a point of serving the work order request to the landlord by letter, keeping a copy of the letter for your records and also have a witness to confirm you gave the landlord the letter, or better yet, mail it to the landlord by certified mail, return receipt. That would establish in court that your made the request.
If the work is not performed by the next time your rent is due, go to your local housing court, file a complaint, and pay your rent to the court. The court will hold the money in escrow and serve the landlord a notice to appear in court.
You must also send a note to the landlord stating that the service has not been performed in a timely manner, therefor your have posted your rent on deposit with the court.
You may rest assured that you now have the landlords full attention because the last thing most landlords want it to face a judge and explain why they dont do their job. The courts know only too well that landlords dont hesitate to use the powers of the court when it suits them, and it is so seldom that a tenant actually goes through the proper channels the courts generally feel it is payback time.
It is within the juridiction of the court to have the dwelling inspected ( something most landlords do not want) and if the inspector were to determine the dwelling untenable, the court can actually direct the tenant into a motel at the landlords expense until the repairs are made.
Many tenants are afraid to take these steps for fear that the landlord would take the corrective action, then immediately find other grounds for evicition, but the laws are specific. If it could be shown that the landlord sought eviction in retaliation, the landlord could be held legally responsible for all relocation costs, and if you were to move and had to pay a higher rent, the court could direct you pay the amount on your lease for the remaining portion of the lease period with the first landlord, and the landlord would have to pay the balance each month.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2004 at 5:29AM
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My ac unit broke last year in the beginning of july our rental company at the time was home works they never came to fix it said they had to wait for landlord approval, they never got back to us. Shortly after that our landlord switched managment companies to central managment services they sent us a letter notifing us of the change. So we tried again we sent our maintinance report to them and they said they would take care of it. Two weeks went by and still no reply so we called up the managment company and the told us once again that we are waiting for the approval from the landlord. To make a long story short our landlord has conveniently switched managment company's again now to home keys reality group. Only this time we can't get ahold of any one at the managment company I have left several messages its been 4 weeks and i am still not recieving any information. I am at my wits end.Please help

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 12:14PM
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I live in a hud senior building. There are 80 apt's in this bldg. I rented this apt because it advertised central air conditioning. Well it is almost june and the temp out side is in the high 80's and very high humidity. All the seniors in this blgs are actually feeling so sick from the heat. The bldg is all brick which is extremely hot. The landlord doesn't live here so she doesn't care if we are in such high heat. Central a/c should be there if we want it right? Not in this place even though it is advertised as central air. I live on the 5 th floor and it is so hot that if I move around I sweat severly. I have to sleep in the chair it's so hot............what can we all do to make her turn on the central air? We are all old people and take alot of medications and our landlors is just so mean any ways. It is a hud bldg. We can't open any of the windows in the halls although we could before. Now the landlord hads put papers on the hall windows so she will know if we try to open them.

please help us/

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 6:37PM
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ja: You need to go to HUD's web site, do some reading on your state and utilize the contact information there.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 9:08PM
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