Tenant Temperature Tantrum: What To Do When Your Landlord Leaves You With Broken Air Conditioning

15 July 2019
 Categories: , Blog

It's easy to fume when you're stuck in a hot and humid apartment, with a landlord who won't fix your air conditioning. Record-breaking heat waves mean baking all day and long, sweaty, sleepless nights. If you're a tenant about to have a (justifiable) temper tantrum because of your lackadaisical landlord, hold off on the heated argument because that just may warm you up further without actually solving the problem at hand.

Understand The Landlord's Legal Obligations With Your AC

Unfortunately, your landlord may not be under any obligation to provide you with air conditioning, depending on how high the heat usually soars in your geographical area and what effect it may have on your health. If there is central air in your apartment that's not working, the law should have your back; however, laws differ from state to state, so you're going to have to investigate your rights and the landlord's obligations to accommodate them. 

If your landlord has agreed to make the necessary repairs to the HVAC system but simply hasn't got to them yet, try to keep your cool as you wait, and do what you can to help them fix it when they do get around to it.

Know A Little Bit About The Machinery

By documenting the symptoms (of the air conditioning system), you may be able to expedite the repairs if the landlord really intends to address them at some point. It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with what's going on, in case you have to take matters into your own hands:

  • Thermostat issues change how an AC operates.
  • Leaks and drainage could cramp your cooling style if there's a clog in the drain line, which not only stops the AC from functioning, but also leaves a liquid mess. 
  • Filters require cleaning or replacing, depending on the model, but if the one in your apartment is caked with filth, it can definitely stop the whole system and may put off a dusty, offensive odor.
  • Coils, compressors, and capacitors—where corrosion of surfaces and corruption of functions commonly occur—might leave an AC unit at low capacity (barely cool) or not working at all.
  • Breakers are safety features that prevent different parts from overheating, but if a part fails or burns out completely, the breaker will likely shut everything down.

Feeling around your AC (carefully) may reveal both hot and cold symptoms and/or leaks. Funky smells and funny sounds, too, are good clues to note for an air conditioning repair professional. If there's an accumulation of mold causing a smell, that could mean the presence of harmful bacteria, and any fault in the lines leading to a leak or malfunction may indicate a dangerous refrigerant situation, which could be putting you at risk; thus, repairs must be imminent, or your landlord could be in hot water.

Any information you garner will be useful to the maintenance contractor and their eventual attempts at repair, but it might also help you if you're forced to handle the repairs on your own.

Call An HVAC Specialist Yourself

One way or another, when the heat is on, you have to have working air conditioning. Calling a repair pro yourself may be the best option ,and you should explain the predicament you're in right away, emphasizing the landlord–tenant conflict. Although it can be a tricky situation for an outside company to enter into, most HVAC repair services have encountered it before. They can repair the AC in your apartment and you can provide payment, then forward the bill to your landlord (or your attorney, if it comes to that).

If the cooling system can't be fixed so easily or the repairs involve going into other apartments or inaccessible areas of the building, ask the repair professional if they have a window unit for sale. They may have used models for sale or brand-spanking new units, but either way, they're very likely to be able to help you out and cool you off if they are unable to repair the HVAC system you're stuck with. Don't forget to keep all related paperwork, including receipts, estimates, and records of repairs or repairs that could not be made.

Be patient, document everything and contact an air conditioning repair service if you can't bear the temperatures any longer.