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Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds - Landlord Forum thread 205702







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Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Anonymous on August 3, 2010 @16:51

                              
I have a question about landlord obligations in Florida regarding air conditioning repairs. I saw a similar thread on this subject here, but none of the respondents knew the actual law or legal obligations and responsibilities involved.

As a result of the recent collapse in Florida real estate values, my wife and I are renting out our one-bedroom condo in Ft. Myers rather than selling it. We are losing about $900 per month on this property. Recently, the air conditioning unit broke and needed to be replaced entirely.

(1) My first question is: under Florida law (§83.51), am I an “exempt” or “non-exempt” landlord (since the unit is not really a formal apartment; not sure
if rented condo’s qualify for the “exempt” status)?

(2) Am I obligated to repair the a/c unit immediately, or does the law allow for a “reasonable” period of time for repairs to be made?

The a/c unit has already been fixed, but the tenant wants credit for every day the a/c was out. I feel that we fixed the a/c as quickly as possible. The tenant’s position is that it doesn’t matter if it was fixed quickly or not, he should get a credit for every day the a/c was broken. Our position is that he should only receive credit for unreasonable delays.

(3) Is he entitled by law to any credit? If so, does he get a full credit (in other words, for each day in July, he would get 1/31 of the rent back), or some partial credit, since he was receiving most of the benefits of the lease agreement? If he is not entitled to any credit, what is considered a customary refund nevertheless, if any?

To throw a little twist in there: this unit is managed for us by a rental agency. We were informed by the agent of the a/c problem on July 25th. We didn’t find out until July 26th that there even was a tenant in the unit (he had been there since July 13th). The agent’s response was “oops, forgot to tell you.” According to the agent, the a/c unit was not working when the tenant moved in.

(4) Is the agent responsible for checking the a/c unit before move-in?

(5) Can the landlord be held responsible for any “delay” in repairing the a/c when he was not even aware that there was a tenant in the unit? (in other words, is the agent responsible for any refunds to the tenant, as opposed to the landlord?)

There is a good blog on Florida landlord/tenant matters at http://blog.bosshardtrealty.com/the_bosshardt_blog/2010/05/index.html which states that two weeks is a normal amount of time to get an a/c unit replaced in Florida during the summer. We had the unit fixed within 7 days of being informed of the problem (but 18 days from the date the problem began, since our agent didn't tell us that there was a tenant or an a/c problem for 13 days).

I feel we, as landlords, did everything we could, as quickly as we could. When my home a/c breaks, I have to wait til it's fixed -- are renters treated any differently? Are they entitled to be reimbursed for ANY wait, or only an unreasonable wait? And if the "unreasonable" wait was the fault of the landlord's agent, and not the landlord, is the agent responsible for any refund owed to the tenant?

I know - there's a lot to digest here. Hope someone has some info on this subject, as it looks likely to get ugly.

[ Reply ] [ Return to forum ]

Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by OK-LL on August 3, 2010 @17:43 [ Reply ]
Certainly, the statute does not describe A/C has a habitability issue and you repaired it within 7 days of being informed. Couple of issues:
(1) Did the tenant inform the PM in writing about the A/C deficiency? (Meaning, does tenant have proof of the date he reported the problem?)
(2) Does your contract with the PM require prompt response to maintenance issues? You seem to be letting the PM off easy here. It was his responsibility to let you know immediately that there was a potential repair expense that exceeded (presumably) his authorized $$ limit.

Technically, it seems that you made repair the within a reasonable time-frame. If there is any compensation due to the tenant for not having all the amenities he pays for, it should come from the PM, since the PM dragged his feet following up on the complaint. But if the tenant continued to live in the unit and actually suffered no monetary damage, I would not offer any compensation. Had he vacated the unit entirely during the period, I would have thought about refunding his rent for that pro-rated period. It would have been a simple solution for the tenant to purchase a small portable window unit for the duration, or even portable fans. Or the PM should have offered these on your behalf.

Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Jake (FL) on August 3, 2010 @18:16 [ Reply ]
Do you really need a law to tell you to properly maintain your property? This is a case when a landlord needs to use his common sense. Replace the air conditioner and please stop looking for ways not to. It will be 95 degrees every day in Ft. Myers this week. How long do you want the tenant to wait? How long would you wait if the AC went out at your home? I am sorry you are losing money. But you can not pass that loss off on to the tenant by digging for technicalities.
Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Anonymous on August 3, 2010 @18:16 [ Reply ]
If the A/C is your property then yes you have to replace it if it was included as part of the rental agreement...If not and you let them use it when you could of removed it then they should replace it for you.Do not credit them start eviction now or you will soon.
Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Chris (Tennessee) on August 3, 2010 @23:12 [ Reply ]
Obviously the landlord here needs to repair the a/c unit -- he never asked whether or not he needed to. He asked what is the TIME FRAME in which he is obligated to repair the unit. If you don't know the answer to his question, you shouldn't bother responding. Sounds like this landlord did everything he possibly could -- including repairing the a/c immediately -- on a unit he is bleeding money on. He has very specific questions and I assume that the answer "you need to fix the a/c unit!" isn't terribly useful, since he has already fixed it and never asked the question whether or not he needed to. If the tenant here owned this unit, rather than rented, and the a/c went out, the tenant would have had to spend a few days in the heat without a/c. The landlord wants to know if he's required to monetarily compensate the tenant here if the tenant spent no more time in the heat while waiting to get the a/c repaired than any owner would have. Seems like a straightforward question. I don't have the answer, but would like to know, since I have a similar situation in Fl with a plumbing problem.
Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Eric (MN) on August 3, 2010 @23:52 [ Reply ]
A FL home without A/C might be worth $300 less? If so, give them $10 a day credit max. Not FREE rent. They still used the property.

For a couple hundred bucks, you may save a tenant or the expense of an eviction. Consider it goodwill.

If you want to get rid of the tenant anyway, don't bend.

Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Anonymous on August 4, 2010 @01:45 [ Reply ]
Since I also live in Florida, I am going to throw my 2 cents in.
1st: It is too hot here to expect to rent a place for reasonable money if you don't have A/C- unless this is a very low end type of property. My thought is you would want the home/condo to have A/C so it won't become full of mold and mildew because of constant humidity. Granted, the tenant may not use the A/C and this could happen anyhow, but it's unlikely-most people don't want to be sweating all day. The property was not rented out with mildew (I'm assuming)so if it comes back that way, I would use the sec dep to fix it. At any rate, I would say you were correct to repair/replace an A/C unit when necessary.

2nd, what kind of contract do you have with the rental agency? Why would you and the rental agency not know what is working and not working at the time you hand over the property to be rented? I would say they are responsible to answer to the tenant about any time issues here-they dropped the ball but you got the problem fixed within a reasonable amount of time when you were notified. In Florida, the LL has 7 days to effect normal repairs from the time of notification unless it is electric, water or heat-those need emergency attention. I think A/C is not considered a mandatory utility, but life here in Florida is miserable if you don't have it! Make sure the rental agency notifies you of anything in writing (fax, email)to protect yourself and keep records.

3rd- Why were you not aware they had rented it? Something is not right here. Don't you have any input as to who it's rented to? Don't they screen the person and let you know who they have as a potential tenant? I wouldn't continue to use this rental agency as they are incompetent and perhaps not truthful. If this didn't break, were they going to tell you it wasn't rented until August 1? Just a thought.

Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Emma (Florida) on August 4, 2010 @01:47 [ Reply ]
Since I also live in Florida, I am going to throw my 2 cents in.
1st: It is too hot here to expect to rent a place for reasonable money if you don't have A/C- unless this is a very low end type of property. My thought is you would want the home/condo to have A/C so it won't become full of mold and mildew because of constant humidity. Granted, the tenant may not use the A/C and this could happen anyhow, but it's unlikely-most people don't want to be sweating all day. The property was not rented out with mildew (I'm assuming)so if it comes back that way, I would use the sec dep to fix it. At any rate, I would say you were correct to repair/replace an A/C unit when necessary.

2nd, what kind of contract do you have with the rental agency? Why would you and the rental agency not know what is working and not working at the time you hand over the property to be rented? I would say they are responsible to answer to the tenant about any time issues here-they dropped the ball but you got the problem fixed within a reasonable amount of time when you were notified. In Florida, the LL has 7 days to effect normal repairs from the time of notification unless it is electric, water or heat-those need emergency attention. I think A/C is not considered a mandatory utility, but life here in Florida is miserable if you don't have it! Make sure the rental agency notifies you of anything in writing (fax, email)to protect yourself and keep records.

3rd- Why were you not aware they had rented it? Something is not right here. Don't you have any input as to who it's rented to? Don't they screen the person and let you know who they have as a potential tenant? I wouldn't continue to use this rental agency as they are incompetent and perhaps not truthful. If this didn't break, were they going to tell you it wasn't rented until August 1? Just a thought.

Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by MassLL (MA) on August 4, 2010 @09:27 [ Reply ]
Opinions of a non-Floridian:

Don't credit the tenant. If you do, he'll demand retroactive credits for this that and the other thing. If he gets VERY insistent and sounds like he might move out, maybe credit him a bit to keep him. Or upgrade something in the place to appease him (ceiling fans? new carpeting?). This will increase the appeal/value of your unit too.

Get rid of the property manager. This was a big, inexcusable mistake on the PMs part.

Suggestion for the future: maybe have (or rent) a window or portable AC to give tenants while waiting for the repair. In Mass. we have to give tenant's space heaters while when the furnace does out.

Re: Florida A/C Repairs and Rent Refunds by Jim (Florida) on April 4, 2011 @18:47 [ Reply ]
if there is one thing I learned on this thread, is that the landlord is a tight wad. imagine if the tenant has children, it is 100 degrees, and the AC stops working. First, put yourself in their shoes from a moral standpoint, if any of you knows what that means. it becomes a liability issue which will lead to a lawsuit that the renter will win. if they have medical disabilities, and you are aware of it, then it becomes a liability. If you rent the place out, then fix it. If an AC repair company takes 7 days to fix a problem, then fire them and find someone who can. Any reputable dealer will have the AC running in 1 day max. Sounds like a bunch of tight wad landlords cheesing out on the tenants and trying not to spend money.

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