Landlord won’t fix AC in timely manner or provide alternatives

28 Replies

Hello, I’m active duty military deployed overseas and one of my guys has a significant problem. His wife and two young kids are in Ohio in a house they’re renting. Their AC went out two weeks ago and still has not been fixed. Their landlord is saying it’ll be at least two to three weeks more until the part will arrive and the AC is fixed. He is refusing to pay for portable AC units or put them up in a hotel...meanwhile the house is incredibly hot. Ohio tenant/landlord laws list air conditioning as a requirement. What rights do the tenants have? Could they get reimbursed if they pay for hotel or portable units out of pocket? Is 4-5 week repair time reasonable? Any other guidance? It is extremely difficult to deal with these issues overseas. They have an appointment with a RE attorney on Tuesday next week. Thanks in advance for your input.

A window ac is under $200. 

An attorney charges more than that, per hour, after the free consultation. 

I'm surprised the landlord wouldn't consider putting in a couple of window units, while waiting for the central a/c to be fixed. 

4-5 weeks is way too long in my opinion. When my a/c breaks down, I try to get it resolved asap within 48 hrs. 

https://www.ohiobar.org/forpublic/resources/lawfac...

This says he has up to 30 days to make "less critical"  repairs.  Frankly, I'm surprised A/C is required in Ohio. Florida or Texas, sure.  But not the Midwest.   I grew up in southern Indiana without it,  currently live in Germany where no one has it. I cannot find anything that says A/C is legally required in Ohio. (Not saying it isn't true,  I just can't verify.)    Either way, sounds like this landlord will be in violation before it gets fixed.  Maybe reminding him of this fact will get him to at least put in a window unit.  

I pulled this off the Ohio Landlord Tenant laws...State Code 5321.04 Landlord Obligations Section 4 "Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances, and elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord"

OK,  the way I read that,  if he didn't have AC,  he wouldn't have to put it in.  But he DID so now he has to maintain it.  I feel (and I am not a lawyer but an MBA who reads a lot of business/contract law)  that the 30 day rule likely applies here.  Unless someone in the house will have their health seriously affected (maybe asthma?  not sure),  it's probably "less critical".  Still,  seems like he's going to violate the 30 day rule.  He should buy them a window unit just for that alone.

I'm sorry to say that given the location it wouldnt be a major required appliance repair. I once lived in an appartment with a broken AC that the land lord hadn’t fixed in the three years that i was there. It was always one excuse after the other but it was livable and i ended up getting my own AC instead that i could take with me. They could always get there own AC unit and take it with them when they leave.

From a tenant and land lord standpoint i really dont see whats wrong with the tenant getting their own AC. Why give so much grief to the land lord with circumstances that were out of his/her control? The LL will fix it when they can and shouldnt have to bend over back words to please every whim of the tenant. Grow up a little people and stop complaining about everything.

@Bo Edmond . From a retired USAF Veteran, I commend your initiative in taking care of one of your troops. 

@Anthony Wienke is certainly NOT into the "Keep Your Tenants Happy and Keep them there school of Landlord Management".   

Anthony,  sorry to say the laws in Ohio do not seem to agree with your opinion.   If you pay rent on a place that has things which work when you move in,  is it "whining"  to expect those things to continue working?  I truly don't understand the superior attitude towards tenants I see often here on BP.  They are human beings who are literally paying my bills for me.  Why wouldn't I treat them right?  Let alone this guy is one of those who stands on the wall for me...IMO he really deserves to be treated decently.

Thank you everyone for the inputs. I would definitely hardly consider asking for an AC unit to be fixed in a rental where it was working in a timely manner to be whining when it’s approaching 90+ degrees in Ohio. If he wanted his family to not have AC then I think he’d have prob rented a place that doesn’t have AC.

I think this landlord is taking advantage of the fact that my guy is half way across the world and it’s shameful that he won’t put in a portable unit while they wait for repairs. My guy understands the repair timeline and is hardly asking for a miracle or for the landlord to bend over backwards. If you are a sh!tty person you prob shouldn’t be a landlord. My guy also signed a three year lease so he is kind of trapped unless he wants to go to court to break his lease. I suppose he could use his deployment orders to break the lease.

Anthony, I pray you stay out of investment real estate if that is going to be your mindset. Military families make huge sacrifices so all Americans can enjoy the comforts of life...my Guy was given 10 days notice before he had to leave his family for 9 months! The actions of this landlord are shameful and, according to Ohio law, illegal.

I didn’t mention that the landlord is trying to make them pay for the repair because they didn’t change to air filter every 2-3 months even though the lease doesn’t have specific requirements for frequency but just “as needed.” This guy owns multiple DIY flips in the Cleveland area and from the sounds of it is a cheapskate looking to make a buck without providing a decent service. They have had many other issues beyond what I’ve mentioned!

Man I’m fired up...this LL is fortunate I’m on the other side of the globe...taking advantage of mil families, them is fighting words (verbal fight tho...I like not being in jail)!

Oh, yeah,  it's irrational to expect your landlord to OBEY THE LAW. Gotcha.  Gotta love the guy who cannot admit when he's wrong.  

And Bo,  thank you for your service.

For my own comfort if I was in their situation I would buy my own window air conditioner unit today since nothing will be resolved over the upcoming weekend. I would also work on saving to move (if they do not already have money saved) and move out as soon as the lease ends. Even if the lawyer is able to find a way to force the landlord to fix it this is not a living situation I would want to continue with.

"I can already tell this forum is leaning more towards the emotional"

I have to agree with Anthony on this one (no surprise). This has nothing to do with the tenants chosen carer. The fact that this tenant is in the military is irrelevant in regards to AC. No one has even bothered to ask as to why the repair is taking so long.

AC is not mandatory and there is nothing stopping the tennat from installing a inexpensive window AC and dealing with the landlord after the fact. Why is it more important that the tenant fight with the landlord and hire a lawyer than spend the time and effort getting their own AC installed. 

Simply another case of a tenant not taking responsibility and instead making this a issue of a irresponsible landlord. Millenials by any chance ?

Pathetic case of moral outrage and righteous indignation on the part of a tenant.

  


tenant attorney Steven R. Kellman of The Tenants Legal Center says, "Functioning air conditioning is usually considered an amenity rather than a requirement of habitable living conditions. If you live in an area that experiences fairly high temperatures or you have a medical condition requiring a functioning air conditioner, the law might look on that differently."

In Houston, where summers are extremely hot and humid, Andy Teas, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Houston Apartment Association, a trade association representing property owners, management companies, developers, and other related professionals in the rental housing industry, says "virtually 100 percent" of apartments come equipped with central air conditioning. 

Teas also notes that changing federal energy guidelines make air conditioning repair more difficult than it used to be. "You can't just replace a part or squirt in some Freon," he says. More often these days, the newer, more efficient parts require changing the compressor or making other major changes to upgrade the entire system.

In most states a landlord's responsibilities fall under the "warranty of implied habitability." Habitability generally means "conditions that are fit for living“.

A habitable residence is described as one that includes hot water, flushing toilets, non-leaking roofs and walls, heat, doors that lock, and a place to dispose of garbage, among many other things. Habitability is based on safe, sanitary, and secure living conditions; it does not mean perfect or aesthetically pleasing. And, as noted by attorney Kellman above, it does not include air conditioning.

But what do I know, im just being irrational right Nancy?

(Millennials: last to arrive, first to criticize)

Glad to be labeled a millennial though I’m not. I come from a generation where we do the right thing. I cannot see how a five week repair on an AC unit is reasonable and unless I’m missing something, Ohio law is pretty clear that this problem should be addressed within a reasonable period of time. I cannot see why the landlord wouldn’t put in a portable unit with his money and then take it out once the problem is resolved.

I apologize for getting emotional because my guy is here next to me in some of the most inhospitable conditions in the world and he has to worry because his wife and kids have to go sit in their car with the AC on because their rental home is an oven and their LL is being accusatory and unwilling to meet them halfway.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

"I can already tell this forum is leaning more towards the emotional"

I have to agree with Anthony on this one (no surprise). This has nothing to do with the tenants chosen carer. The fact that this tenant is in the military is irrelevant in regards to AC. No one has even bothered to ask as to why the repair is taking so long.

AC is not mandatory and there is nothing stopping the tennat from installing a inexpensive window AC and dealing with the landlord after the fact. Why is it more important that the tenant fight with the landlord and hire a lawyer than spend the time and effort getting their own AC installed. 

Simply another case of a tenant not taking responsibility and instead making this a issue of a irresponsible landlord. Millenials by any chance ?

Pathetic case of moral outrage and righteous indignation on the part of a tenant.

Spoken like an experienced Landlord, AC is not like a Furnace. AC is a perk in a house not mandatory 

Not that it matters but this sounds like one of those home warranty maintenance agreements, takes forever since they’ll wait for a $20 part instead of replacing something $50 now.

If you couldn't be bothered to read the link,  maybe just go back and read Bo's relevant section regarding the law.  Actual Ohio law.  I don't know what states the attorneys you are quoting are licensed in.   Here it is again.  State Code 5321.04 Landlord Obligations Section 4 "Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances, and elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord".  LL supplied the a/c,  now he has to maintain the a/c. Other sections say he has NO MORE than 30 ays to do that.  For those of you saying "Go buy a window a/c".  Maybe $200 and installing a heavy appliance in a window is a huge ask of a military spouse.  In my experience military families struggle quite a bit financially.  It also presumes the windows open in such a way to allow a window A/C.

Call it "being emotional",  I still maintain that it is the law, and  it is doing the right thing.  I don't see tenants as people somehow less deserving of decent treatment than others.  (Which seems to be a common attitude on this site.)  I see them as human beings who are THE reason we are meeting our financial goals.  If my tenant is serving in the military,  damn skippy that makes them even more deserving of respect.   My own father was at Normandy,  I have a very deep sense of what that service COSTS.  Bo,  I hope the situation is resolved quickly.  Please see my private message to you.

The landlord is acting in an unacceptable manner. This time of year here in Houston, and AC breakdown can become an emergency for some quickly. When it comes to AC, we strive to fix within 12-24 hours this time of year.

Sounds like the landlord isn’t living up to the lease. If the tenants are current, they may be able to breach the lease and possibly apply penalties on the landlord. Would recommend having a lawyer advise.

Good luck with it. As a COL in the Army Reserves,it saddens me to see people being treated this way.

https://www.ohiobar.org/forpublic/resources/lawfactspamphlets/pages/lawfactspamphlet-11.aspx

Obligation of landlord Maintain in good working condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating and air conditioning systems, and fixtures and appliances you have supplied.

If you have notified your landlord, in writing, of problems at your rental property or of an insect or rodent infestation, the landlord should remedy the problems within a “reasonable” amount of time. For a broken furnace in mid-January, a reasonable amount of time may be just a few days. The landlord may take up to 30 days to make less critical repairs.

If the landlord fails to make repairs within a reasonable amount of time (not more than 30 days), you may have the right to get a court order for repairs to be made, obtain a court-ordered reduction in rent, or terminate the lease. You also have the right to escrow your rent.

What does escrowing rent mean?

Escrowing your rent means that you deposit your rental payments with the clerk of the municipal or county court, depending on where you live, instead of paying your landlord. Before you can escrow your rent, you must first wait the FULL 30 days after notifying the landlord of its failure to fulfill obligations. However, if there is an emergency, such as lack of heat in winter or lack of water, you can start escrowing your rent earlier. The notice requesting repairs must be clear and detailed enough that your landlord and the court can understand exactly what is wrong. You must send the notice to the place where you normally pay rent. Keep a photocopy of the notice and send it with a “certificate of mailing” so you have proof you sent the notice. You must deposit your rent into escrow on or before the date when your rent is due. If your rent is due on the 5th of every month, deposit your rent on or before the 5th.

The court will tell your landlord that you have started depositing your rent into a rent escrow account. Once the landlord makes the repairs, you can ask the court to release the money to the landlord.