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How to get your landlord to fix the heat

Posted at 5:36 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 19:36:06-05

Hot water, electricity, air conditioning in the summer, and now heat in the winter. The law calls them essential services. Renters have a right to demand them, and landlords have an obligation to provide them.

So what can renters do when these services stop working?

Pamela Bridge with Community Legal Services says paying rent and giving the landlord reasonable notice are the most important thing renters can do.

"So often we see tenants who say I'm mad at the landlord, I'm not gonna pay rent and then they get evicted," Bridge said.

It's a good idea to deliver that notice via certified mail with a hard deadline so there is no dispute.

The law doesn't specify how long the fix can take so Bridge says, "it depends on how critical the situation is."

It also depends on where you live. In Phoenix,your furnace must be able to heat your home to 70 in the winter and A/C cool it to 82 in the summer. If the landlord is dragging their feet or refusing to fix it you have legal remedies.

You can get your own essential services like portable A/C in the summer or space heaters in the winter. And state law allows you to deduct the "actual reasonable cost from the rent."

You can also find substitute housing like a hotel or extended stay. Renters are entitled up to 125 percent of the rent if the substitute housing bill exceeds the monthly rental rate.

"Go back to the landlord, show him the receipt and then they can deduct that amount from the rent," Bridge says.

If the problem persists and you have given proper notice, the law gives you the right to terminate your tenancy and sue the landlord for damages. 

Find out more on how to do that here.