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Renter's Rights: As temperatures increase, renters facing AC trouble look for solutions with landlords

Posted at 10:32 AM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 13:36:49-04

TULSA — From sweltering Oklahoma summers to brutal winters, heating and air conditioning are crucial elements in the home. But for some Green Country renters, their right to comfortable living isn’t always at the forefront as they deal with broken AC's or heaters for months.

Two Works for You is dedicated to educating tenants about their rights and what to do when apartment management or rental properties fall behind on resolving issues.

As temperatures climb into the triple digits, many look to escape the scorching heat.

"Eighty-two is the lowest it got,” Kelly Yerian, a renter who has been dealing with AC issues at his apartment, said.

For Yerian, that's the temperature inside his apartment on a good day.

"The AC guy said that the intake vent in the hallway has two fan motors in it, and if it’s not sealed up, then it’s going to bring the hot air from the attic, the hot air from the outside, and bring that in,” he said. “It’s not going to circulate and it’s not going to get cool."

Air conditioning repair issues are a common theme for many renters.

"We've had problems for the last three years,” Darel Branster, a renter, said. ‘And now every summer it gets worse and worse and this summer it's really getting hot."

Dealing with problems like this year after year doesn't have to be such a headache. As a renter, there are rights you need to know about so you can take action to beat the heat, or even the cold if your heat doesn't work in the winter.

The first thing you're advised to do is speak with your property manager.

"I called the main people, the main office and left them a message and she called me immediately,” Yerian said. “I told her the AC guy was supposed to talk to you about fixing this, and she said, ‘Nobody has talked to me, you're supposed to do that.’"

Not exactly. Keri Cooper, Executive Director of the Tulsa Apartment Association, said communication is key.

"They should definitely be expecting communication from their property manager or the management company on what is going on with that,” Cooper said.

If your property manager is hard to reach, Cooper said there's another step you can take.

“If they can't connect with the property manager for some reason, then they want to connect with the management company,” she said.

That information can be found in your lease, or sometimes posted on the rental property. If you feel you are getting nowhere, try reaching out to 211, which can put you in touch with area organizations intended to help.

"I am familiar with [them] through the community service council,” Cooper said. “There is the Tulsa Weather Coalition in which in certain situations, if the person qualifies, they can provide and air conditioner."

In other situation, if you find your unit or rental home needs repairs, the Oklahoma Bar Association states you must give your landlord a written notice.

Make sure you send the dated notice in a way that you can prove it was received by the landlord and keep a copy for your records. Attorney's said if an essential service fails, like heating and air, and it is at the fault of the landlord, you can give written notice to:

  • End your lease immediately.
  • Move somewhere else temporarily and not owe rent to your landlord.
  • Sue for damages.
  • Make your own arrangements for the service and deduct the cost from your rent.

Attorney's said it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep all appliances in good and safe working order.

The Tulsa Apartment Association said if you feel that your health and safety is at risk, and you find yourself in a situation where communication is failing, make sure to consult with an attorney first before taking any action like withholding rent.

For legal resources through the Oklahoma Bar Association, click here.

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