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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    4

    Angry how to persuade apartments to correctly repair my A/C

    I have a problem. My issue has been going on for nearly two years. Last summer, my A/C completely went out literally about a dozen times. I live in Alabama so my (poorly insulated) apartment gets up to nearly 85 degrees within a few hours of it going out. My power bills also doubled for several months.

    This past fall I was told they had replaced the entire unit. A week later when it went out again, and of course I found out they had not replaced anything.

    They do admit the fact that the unit is leaking freon, but they have just continually added freon when it goes out every few weeks. (Oh and because apparently so many more people die of hypothermia in Alabama instead of hyperthermia, they do not consider A/C issues worthy of fixing on nights and weekends).

    A couple months ago, I insisted that they correct the problem before this summer, and of course I was assured it would be taken care of. Three months later, after bothering them about it multiple times, and after renewing my lease under the misconception that it would be repaired, it is now almost June. I found out today that they have decided they wil not repair it. I was absolutely LIVID hearing this. (my anger so extreme mainly because I have two pet chinchillas that could have a heat stroke in temps over 80 degrees)

    I read that the EPA does not regulate smaller units. My local city regulations don't seem to mention them either.

    Does anyone have any idea how I can convince my apartment people to stop trying to delay an actual repair?
    At this point, I have a constant fear that I'm going to come home from work to an 85 degree apartment and two chinchillas suffering from heatstroke. I'm also a college student so I really am not financially capable of running to a hotel everytime it happens.

    (Imagine thirty pounds of ice in one small bathroom with two small furry animals. I also have spent many nights with them in my running car. I have had to take them to class. I've taken them to work numerous times.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    68,104
    Show your lease to a lawyer.
    And have him write them a letter.

    They might fix it right then.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Buffalo NY
    Posts
    3,107

    Cool

    I had a similar situation with my mother in law and her furnace. She lived about an hour and a half away and I could not always run out there when it would not work. Her landlord left her without heat for almost a week in the middle of Jan. We talked to a lawyer about suing but he said her only recourse was to move because it is an inhabitable condition and it would terminate the lease. Luckily she had some electric heaters and ran them as high as they could go and ran up his electric bill.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    NW Florida
    Posts
    707
    Check your lease. If it says you where rented a conditioned apartment. You have a case. I would not have signed the lease until the unit had been replaced.
    In either case contact a lawyer maybe a simple letter or call from him will get some action. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,070
    Talk with a Lawyer. Have him/her send a letter saying he will hold the rent on behalf of the apartments until the repairs are effected (like an escrow). This is legal and your attorney will advise you how to do this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    4
    thanks for everyones input. I wish I could talk to a lawyer about this but i fear that since i did not get any agreement about the A/C being fixed in writing and I can't claim is constantly uninhabitable, that I will not have any legal leg to stand on. I'm thinking about just finding a new apartment as quickly as possible. Last time i spoke with them they said i could move to a different unit, but that seems a little pointless to me. I mean problems with any apartment are to be expected. things break down. The main issue I'm having is the apartments response or lack thereof to the problem.

    On another note, this morning I discovered that what looks to rusty water is now starting to seap out of the little closet with the inside part of the A/C unit. This happened over and over again last year. It soaks the carpets in all of my closets and causes water damage to trim,etc. (I'm sure that when i move out they'll say that's my fault too) They said last time that the pipes that were draining the water were clogged with debris and I guess rust so they used an air compressor to blow them out. My question is does that explanation make sense or are they (as usual) telling me something so I'll shut up? Also, (this may sound stupid but still) if my unit is leaking refrigerant, and the probable is under the building (its a split system so i'm guessing that's the area where the freon condenses), is there any possibility that what looks like rusty water seaping around may contain some freon? I realize that may be farfetched but I really just don't know much about how A/C's are set up.
    Any input would be appreciated. thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    29

    Talking

    Hi,
    As far as the water leaking out of the inside unit is concerned this is caused by either a clogged drain or the drain pan could of rusted out. The part of what the inside unit does is take the humity out of the air, its drains out through what is called a condensate drain.
    If it is clogged again, it will need to be blown clear or a wet/dry vac can be put on the drain and it sucked clean.
    If the pan is rusted it will have to be replaced or a new inside unit installed.
    Now there is a 3'rd possibility, since the unit has an apparent leak, at least according to what u have been told, this low refrigerent level can cause ice to appeaer on the inside unit and when it melts, if the drain was not sized correctly, it can cause an overfill in the pan.
    In any case, if I were u, I would consider taking photographs of the damage, ect and you might try a little trick that a friend of mind did, she contacted not only her local paper, but 3 animal rights groups told them of the situation, all made the issue very public, guess what, she got anew a/c unit, 3 months free rent, and a couple of other nices. You have got to show the animals suffering, and make it public and in your face type to get results
    The cooler

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    6,536
    Call the office again, if that doesnt work call the health department. Most of the time its not the A/C or heat issues the health department dings them on it everything else.They will get tired of it and replace it sooner or later, or
    talk to the maint guy and be cool with him. Hes the one who can help you the most.
    You sure are cocky for a starving pilgrim.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,347
    A refugee from the apartment maintenance world here. When I was very young in the trade I worked at a complex in a college town, and lived on site. One of the residents kept calling about her a/c cooling for awhile and then tapering off. First time or two I added gas to the system but realized I couldn't keep doing that forever. That tenant was one not to cease until the squeaky wheel got greased. I went into hyper-investigation mode and, long story short, found seven pinhole leaks in the cooling coil (which a tech from an a/c company my manager called to assist me could not accept until I challenged him to yank it out, seal it, and gas it up. Finally I had to toss the thing into a full bathtub of water in a vacant unit for him to actually believe it). We replaced the leaky cooling coil and the tenant stayed happy. I learned from that the constant tetter totter an apartment maintenance guy must straddle...keep the office happy and keep the tenants happy. You keep the office happy by not creating more grief for the tenants to pound the office with. You keep the office happy by keeping costs down. You keep the tenants happy by appearing responsive to their problems. If the office balks too much on the money side, the tenant side will NEVER be happy.

    All that said to say this...with the track record shown by your apartment management, I'd eat whatever lease termination penalty there might be and get the heck outta Dodge. Find a downstairs apartment in a newer complex that has a management company who appears to address problems promptly. Many complexes are available for review online, with present and former tenants offering comments on their experience of living there. Even there, some tenants can never be pleased, even when management bends over backward. But that does not appear to be your case. I wish you good hunting if you decide to move.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    4
    cooler3: It's funny that you say that because I was actually thinking about writing the local newspaper about my problems (complete with information about the environmental effects of refrigerants). I'm sure that plenty of apartments do this sort of thing and I mean, I just don't think it's right that anyone has to put up with poorly maintained apartments on top of paying sky high power bills all so the owners can save a few bucks. And on a less selfish note, there are like ten apartment complexes within like a square mile of my place. Imagine if they all have just a few A/C units that are extremely old, inefficient, and leaking. That seems like alot of totally unnecessary pollution. Honestly, I'm not some super 'green' radical environmental person, but it kind of messed up preferring to emit refrigerant than to spend a little bit of money.
    Oh and the thing is with the animals, for 1) they are just gonna say I'm not supposed to have them anyway because they changed their lease after i moved in but then I couldnt move out later before i renewed and 2) honestly, the moment i notice the A/C going out (i've become an expert) I start finding somewhere for my boys (chinchillas) or start packing in ice. They are incredibly sensitive to heat and I may be a little paranoid, but to me its a risk even to let them get to the point where i could like ya know take picture. Does that make sense?...though...perhaps you meant of the animal, not necessarily of the animal suffering at the time. ok i'm babbling now.

    shophound: I totally get what you're saying. And really, the maintenance guys have always been really cool. At the same time, I know they can't really do anything about my situation, and I don't know that I'd want them too either because 1)the property manager/owner (whoever makes the decisions) should take the full responsibility of the way the complex is maintained and 2)the office people would probably just get rid of the maint. guys as easily as they try to get rid of me and 3)it just would make the "teeter totter" even worse for them. But yea, I decided today that I am going to get out of here as soon as possible. I wish I had done more research before I moved here actually though, but there was literally no other apt. in my price rang with a vacancy.

    However, thank you for the advice and I do plan on doing quite a bit more research into a new place this time. And yea of course there's always going to be someone that just cant be appeased no matter what. thats to be expected.

    Thank you everyone!!!!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Waffleville
    Posts
    10,339
    Quote Originally Posted by cooler3 View Post
    Hi,
    As far as the water leaking out of the inside unit is concerned this is caused by either a clogged drain or the drain pan could of rusted out. The part of what the inside unit does is take the humity out of the air, its drains out through what is called a condensate drain.
    the coil is prolly freezing up and blocking the drain line.

    humidity
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Winter Haven, FL
    Posts
    4,379
    I got into this business via the apartment trade. There are some landlords that are truly the scum of the earth. Im willing to bet that you are not the only one with this problem in the complex. Stand at the entrance with a big sign asking anyone else with an ongoing a/c problem to come and talk to you. The management doesnt want to deal with the group af angry renters.
    Also check the lease. Not sure of alabama, but in florida, if the landlord can not or will not fix the problem you can have it fixed and take it off of the rent. The law here says that if the dwelling was rented with the appliance, it is the landlords duty to repair it to a satisfactory working condition. Plumbing drain leaks are a big no-no in the lease law too.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    4
    You know I read over my lease really carefully several times the other day and there is virtually nothing on the responsibilities of the landlord. It is like 20 pages of what the tenant has to pay in such and such situations. But I will definitely read over it again and do more research on AL laws regarding the issue. I did not know that though (about the FL law you mentioned) so I'll certainly check on that. Thank you.

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