Extreme heat is putting Arizona air-conditioning units to extreme tests.
“We’re talking weeks in the record heat wave with children and a grandfather,” said Katie, who rents a home in Gilbert.
She and her family have been without air conditioning for weeks facing record-high temperatures.
When the unit first went out, Katie notified the property management company, MacLay Real Estate.
The company worked with the homeowner’s home warranty company. An A/C technician did come out but stated the issue was electrical and would need an electrician before they could work on the unit. An electrician came out and addressed the electrical. Now Katie and her family are waiting for a second A/C technician to return to get their unit working.
Katie describes it as “a series of unfortunate events,” but amid a heat wave, it’s putting stress on her family’s health and finances.
“I’m couch surfing. My children are literally couch-surfing at friends’ houses right now because you can’t live in here like this. It’s absolutely miserable and it’s not safe,” she explained.
Katie says MacLay Real Estate has offered to credit her next month’s rent payment for days the family has gone without air conditioning, but when she asked about ways to get immediate help with other accommodations, she says they were rejected.
Within hours of reaching out, a spokesperson with MacLay Real Estate told the Let Joe Know team they have a portable A/C unit that will be brought to Katie’s house.
Days later, Katie told ABC15 that her A/C received a temporary fix. It’s blowing cold air for now and another repair technician is expected back out to look at permanent fixes, including replacing the whole unit.
Arizona law calls hot water, electricity, air conditioning in the summer, and heat in the winter essential services. Renters have a right to demand them, and landlords have an obligation to provide them.
There are steps renters need to take when these services stop working.
First, notify your landlord or property management. It’s a good idea to deliver that notice via certified mail with a hard deadline so there is no dispute.
The landlord should act within 24 hours to fix the problem, although the law doesn’t specify how long the fix can take.
You also have the option to give your landlord a 5- or 10-day notice to fix the problem yourself. However, you need to cite specific language required by statutes.
For example, if you’re exercising your rights under the self-help repair statute, which entitles you to bring in a licensed contractor, you need to include specific language in your written notice.
You can get your own essential services, like portable A/C in the summer, 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 to up to 125% of the rent if the substitute housing bill exceeds the monthly rental rate.
If you’ve given proper notice and the problem persists, 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.