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RandomMrAdam's avatar

If maintenance at my apartment complex takes 3 months to fix my broken AC, am I entitled to get compensation for the high electric bills in the meantime?

Asked by RandomMrAdam (1655points) August 24th, 2010

I moved into my apartment in May of this year. Once it started to get hot toward the end of the month, I noticed my AC would run constantly. I put in a service request to get it fixed, and maintenance came over and adjusted the thermostat. They considered the problem fixed. I noticed my AC still continued to run so I put another request in and it took them another week and a half to finally come out and take a second look. This time, they cleaned the coils (or something along those lines) and then left again and said it was fixed. Still, the problems persisted, so I put another request in. Next time they come out, all they did was say that because I live on the 3rd floor then the AC would run a lot, especially during hot temperatures. About a week after that, I threaten to get some other HVAC people out to troubleshoot the problems and upon finding something wrong, I will sue for my high electric bills. Well that sparked some urgency with my landlord and so they sent another maintenance person over. This time, they found a leak in my AC and found that there was no freyon in the unit itself so it was blowing out room temperature air. When I asked for compensation, they told me that they will not provide it since they fixed the problem 3 times already. In reality, I feel that they should have checked the freyon and temperature in the first place (logical first step to troubleshooting AC unit). Should I be able to get compensation for my extremely high electric bills (example: avg 80/month turns into 250/month bill) for 3 months from my landlord?

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12 Answers

BoBo1946's avatar

They would owe you $425. That would give them a reasonable time of 2 weeks (actually, way more than reasonable) to repair the unit. Take them to small claim’s court if they refuse to compromise the bill. Plus, i’m sure they violated the lease agreement. Oh, you could compose a letter to them and casually mention the mental anguish and pain and suffering of the ordeal…loll That should get their attention.

jaytkay's avatar

The exact wording in the lease and local laws determine if you can win this or not.

Both are important. If the lease is in your favor, no problem. If not, local law may override that.

It is pretty common for legal documents to say something like, “If anything in this agreement is unlawful it shall not apply.” It’s not an evil thing, just assurance that nobody is signing away their rights.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@BoBo1946 Thanks for your input. I am trying to find free consulting from some lawyers locally to see what my rights are.

@jaytkay Would there be anything in the lease about how long it should take them to fix problems? I have the lease still, what should I look for in there as far as wording? In my honest opinion – I think that they should have made sure the apartment was in working order before I moved in (Note: It was a show unit before I moved in. – they moved me into the show unit because the tenants at the apartment I was supposed to move into decided not to move)

jrpowell's avatar

Are your ready to move? I didn’t even threaten to sue for something similar. I just didn’t think I should pay rent for the week we didn’t have water. A few weeks later I got a noise complaint. A few weeks later my bike was blocking the walkway. A month later another noise complaint. Shit, I just broke my lease and had 30 days to move out.

Sure, my property manager was a dick. But they can fuck you if they want too and you will be evicted before it makes it to court. Pick your battles wisely.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@johnpowell Trust me, if they forced me to move – I would have arrangements, but I want them to get what they deserve. They had incompetent maintenance people come out and fail to check the freyon and then they claim that the freyon being empty “has to be” a new development even though I have been complaining for months about the AC running 24×7.

My point is that they cannot prove that the leak “just” happened and that the freyon was full when I first started complaining because they never checked (as they should have to cover their own asses). I think in a small claims court, that would work in my favor. I considered going to my neighbor and politely asking them if I could get an average bill they pay for their electric for the same months that mine was super high.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RandomMrAdam The problem I see you having with it is that they did try to fix it. Each time they fixed something on it, it just proved to be the wrong thing. There is a difference between not trying at all and trying and failing. I’m curious though, if your AC was running 24/7 and not really working, why would you have left it on to run up the electric bill?

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@Seaofclouds I tried to go without the AC to see what my bill would be like, but it got to like 90+ degrees in my apartment, so I figured hell, I pay rent at an apartment with AC, so I should be able to have that luxury And the thing with them coming out and fixing (adjusting) something – they never confirmed that it “fixed the problem” and they would have never come out again and again if I didn’t continue to complain, so I shouldn’t have to pay for their negligence and faulty equipment in my opinion.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

A side note: I continued to talk directly with my landlord and tell her that I know something is wrong, and they continued to tell me that everything was normal. Now all of a sudden they find it’s broken and they say ‘oh, well it must have just broken in the past couple of days and not 3 months ago when you first started complaining” I just hope that a small claims court will agree with how I look at the situation.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RandomMrAdam I understand what you are saying. I just think they could use that as a defense to get out of paying for the increased cost of the electric bill. I hope you are able to find a lawyer to talk to about it and to find out what options you have. Good luck!

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@Seaofclouds Thanks :) I did find some lawyers locally who do some free consultations btw. I am hoping that if I can just get a lawyer to send a letter to the landlord and just mention that he is representing me in this situation that maybe they will think Shit, he means business and maybe they will be able to at least budge a little on giving me some compensation. Hell – I can dream, right? :P

BarnacleBill's avatar

Check with your local tennant’s board. It sounds like this was a central air unit, and not a window unit, so they are responsible for keeping it in good working order. Does your lease say anything about changing filters, maintenance responsibilities, etc.? I would make note of how long it took to respond to your requests and that they argued with you over the necessity.

This is one of the things that social media is great for. Look for local sites that rate local companies, and ding them for poor response. You don’t even have to say anything negative or untrue. Just say slow to respond to maintenance requests, resulting in utility bills 3X higher than they should have been.

Pandora's avatar

I would ask them for someone over them whom I can speak too. If they will not do that, then research it online. Often managers don’t want to look bad in front of there bosses and will come to some compromise. Don’t be hot headed. Simply let them know that you understand this may be an expense approval that goes over there heads but that you feel strongly about be compensated for work that was never accurately fixed. However, having been a former assistant manager I can say that the way corporate will look at it is how long in between it took you to report that the problem was still not fixed. You should’ve called the next day the moment it wasn’t fixed. They can’t be held responsible for the times you did not call it in. If I wait 5 days before reporting that the problem is still happening, than I have full knowledge that my bill will be higher for those 5 days. You should never wait longer than 24 hours for an a/c call. Most apartments promise 24 hours service for emergency calls and a/c are considered emergency service. Especially when the temperature outside exceeds 90 degrees. Most of this summer saw sky high heat.

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