Property Management Won’t to Fix Central Air

11 Replies

Can I deduct the cost of buying air conditioners and fans from rent if my landlord doesn't want to fix our central AC/heat unit? The 12-month lease started May 2018. The AC/central air does not work. It turns out there’s no return box for cool air to flow. Only the hot air comes out and because it’s a 2 story house, it’s very warm on the second floor. The Re-Max property managers are unresponsive & very disorganized. The maintenance guy is also incompetent & when I insisted on getting a HVAC specialist, the specialist agreed that the central air needed some installs done. Prior to moving in, the property was market for having central air. Can I deduct my costs from the rent if my property manager/landlord doesn't want to fix our central AC/heat unit? It’s only been a week and the thermostat has been reading near and over 90 degrees. It’s upsetting especially since we have a 2 year old and one month old child. What are my rights?

Well that doesn’t seem right. You should check your local laws. I’m guessing you can’t pay less rent.

Would it be possible to get the HVAC guy to fix it just have him bill the landlord?

First, check your rental/lease agreement to see if it addresses such an issue that you are facing now. However, even if it addresses it and says something along the lines of, “tenant is responsible for repair to HVAC under any circumstance,” does not mean that the language in the agreement is legal under PA law (just because something is in a contract - and agreed to in writing - does not always mean that it is legal if local laws may exist that specifically say that it is not legal.) But you should always start by looking at your contract.

I never owned anything in PA, so had to look this up. Nolo seemed like a good start:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/pennsylvania-tenant-rights-withhold-rent-repair-deduct.html

There are useful links from that page, specifically:

http://tenant.net/Other_Areas/Penn/harris/pa-part2.html

It appears that you have some options, but you must take steps - described in the link - to make sure that you are also within the law when taking them.

@Caleb Heimsoth The maintenance guy brought the HVAC guy with him and they confirmed that the central isn't working or installed properly. The HVAC guy won't fix it unless the property management gives them the green light. I've already bought 5 air conditioners and 2 fans and want to have those costs deducted from rent. 

@al 

@Al D. According to the lease, Landlord is responsible for central air / AC maintenance. My wife and I have since reached out to the property management and they're giving us the run around and not responding back. 

@Kim Meredith Hampton Thanks I will. 

You can withhold rent in PA, but you have to do it in a certain way. You can’t just not pay.

Research the correct way ( I believe putting in what amounts to an escrow account) and include a letter with your June rent payment explaining that per PA code XX you’re withholding $yy this month to cover the costs of non functioning systems that were included in the house.

I bet you’ll get it fixed ASAP!

@Mike McCarthy I’ve already bought 5 air conditioners and 2 fans prior to buying the 5 a/c. I just want to deduct those cost from rent. I plan to reach out the landlord which is a investment company based on California on Tuesday since today is Memorial Day. The property management company hasn’t been responding back to us.


Originally posted by @Ayodeji Kuponiyi :

Mike McCarthy I’ve already bought 5 air conditioners and 2 fans prior to buying the 5 a/c. I just want to deduct those cost from rent. I plan to reach out the landlord which is a investment company based on California on Tuesday since today is Memorial Day. The property management company hasn’t been responding back to us.

No, you're not going to get reimbursed for your 5 A/C units and 2 fans. You made the decision to fix the problem in this way, not the LL. You can withhold rent in PA to fix a problem. You could have paid the HVAC guy to fix the central air, and then withheld that money from the monthly rent. Of course, that would have cost more than the monthly rent, I'm sure, which is why you went with the fans and the window A/C units. Well, now you're stuck with them. Find a different place to live -- there are all too many LLs like this in PA.

@Ayodeji Kuponiyi we manage 650 units so this is what you as a tenant can do. If your lease states that you have Central A/C and that the owner is responsible to repair it then you can put your rent in escrow. I can almost guarantee that you will get the owners attention or the property managers attention. You are within your rights to do so.If you are concerned about it enough then seek out a RE attorney and pay them $100 for 20 minutes of advice. 

@Ayodeji Kuponiyi Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I am well acquainted with the abysmal quality of property management and disrespect you have been subjected to. Go after them if you can and do us all a favor, even though they'll certainly end up denying your lease renewal.

@Ayodeji Kuponiyi Here in Ohio you're allowed to put your rent in escrow with the court until the problem is fixed. If the lease says that everything was in good and working order when you moved in then the landlord is responsible because it's not as if became broken after you moved in. It was that way before you moved in. If the landlord is responsible, there may be a way you can seek damages as that's putting you and your family in danger. I believe the law allows up to 30 days for them to be able to fix or repair. It's tricky so you might want to do a legal consult. Also research your rights as a tenant in your state. If you've had to buy A/C and they were lawfully supposed to fix it then it's completely logical to withhold rent, just not sure the legalities of it.