Can I make tenant pay for service call on HVAC issue in Georgia

7 Replies

Tenant made a maintenance request that HVAC was not working properly upstairs. HVAC contractor checked it out and said the unit was working properly.  The fee was $99.00 soI charged tenant the fee.  Tenant says HVAC still is not working properly so tenant contacted another HVAC contractor to come look at unit.  They found the unit had not been cleaned (dirt caked up on coils and the unit was low in freon indicating there is a leak in the system.  Owners do not know when the unit was last serviced.  The tenant was told by their HVAC contractor another part of the problem is the unit is 1/2 ton too small to cool the square footage of home.  He recommended an in duct blower fan to be installed to move the air flow throughout the home.  Our payment system is set up so that any fees added to the tenants account in addition to the rent each month must be paid in full to include the rent.  In other words, our tenants must pay the amount showing in the payment portal or nothing.  The tenant chose to pay nothing because they are disputing having to pay the service call fee saying it is the "owners responsibility" to keep up the HVAC unit and make sure it works properly.  They said they will pay the rent by mail from here forward instead of through the payment portal.  I do not feel it is the owners responsibility to pay the service fee being the service technician determined the unit was "working properly" at that time.  The tenants have lived in the home for 7 months.   Rent is due on the 1st and late after the 5th day of the month and they have always paid within the grace period since moving in.   My question is do I have any grounds to evict them?  Suggestions on how to handle.

Thank you!

I am an HVAC contractor in Florida and see this everyday. The first tech that went out may be an hourly employee with little experience and/or in a hurry and didn't take the time to look at coils or do a load calculation on the home to determine the undersize issue. The items the second texh are listing are not your average sales pitch items and sound like they took more time or have more knowledge than the first.  I'm not sure I would jump to eviction when the guy you called may very likely be the one that is wrong. Most companies give free second opinions and dirty coils and low freon levels are easy to prove as well as she is tonnage of system. I would do a little more digging before assuming.

@CYndilyn J. , what does your lease say?  Does it explicitly state the tenant is responsible for HVAC service and repairs?  If not, I don't see any reason to file for eviction.  If the lease does not explicitly state the tenant is responsible, I would expect the landlord to promptly repair and maintain the HVAC and pay for those repairs.

Like Randy said, does your lease say that the tenants are responsible for HVAC repairs? Usually the landlord is responsible for bigger repairs like this, so I would think that you would have to pay for the repair of the HVAC. Either way, I don't think this situation is just cause for eviction (as the other posts said). 

You should pay for the first service tech. 

Re the second service tech, it’s strange that the tenant called their own tech however it sounds to me like this is the more accurate diagnosis and if it was still hot I don’t really blame the tenant for calling his own. 

As a LL I think it’s important to have a Rolodex of GOOD service providers that can be trusted to avoid this happening. Had your first tech been able to correctly diagnose the problem the second call could have been avoided. 

Is this a good tenant otherwise? Why would you want to evict and cost a lot more money than to pay the tech? Or, since your first tech obviously didn't know what he was doing, but the second tech wasn't actually approved by you, see if you and the tenant can split the cost of the second tech, and explain to the tenant that any service calls without consulting you in the future is their responsibility. On the one hand, the tenant should not be calling out service techs without consulting you. But, on the other hand, it sounds like the person you called didn't do the job.