Real Estate: Florida/lack of repairs

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hvac_poolpump
hvac_poolpump  
We moved into our rental Dec 2012. we chose this house, and told landlord this, because it was a fairly new construction and had a built in pool. I am disabled and use it for therapy.

During the winter months and the following spring months we complained to the landlord about a lack of A/C and or heat in several rooms of the house, mainly the master bedroom, its bath and the kitchen. We set A/C at 81 degrees and the heat at 65 degrees year round but only turn it on as needed. We informed them that the entire house felt like there as very little air flow using those services and almost none in the MBR, MBR-bath and kitchen. They replied only after several more months of complaining by sending out a "handyman". He went into the ceiling area crawl space but came back down in just a few minutes saying he saw no problems. He then went to the MBR and put his hand up in the air about 3' away from the air vent in the MBR-bath and said he felt air coming through. I told him it was NOT sufficient and wouldn't agree with me and he refused to investigate any further. Our electric bills were averaging $250-$300 per month. Other homes with similar floor plan square footage and construction were having bills in the $125 - $150 range. It wasn't until Feb 2014 though we continued to complain to the landlord that they sent out an A/C contractor to check out the system. Pictures of what they found are attached. Based on the pictures it is obvious we were throwing money out the window air conditioning and heating our attic area. They informed the landlord of the obvious repairs needed but were told ONLY to fix that specific area and NOT to do or check anywhere else. Our bills have lowered to about $175 but we still feel there is other damage in the system.

And now we have another problem... our pool pump has bad bearings and gets very hot while running. And due to the bad bearings the output of the pump is insufficient to clean the pool without having to run it 10-12 hours instead of the normal 3-4 hours. We are fearful it will short out causing an electrical fire and asked it be replaced. They refused saying as long as it is running it is fine. They also stated the pump was new prior to our moving in less than 2 years ago. CHECKOUT THE PICTURES. Before we moved in the pool was extremely filthy. They said they would clean it prior to our moving in Dec 2012. WE had to pay someone to clean it in May 2013 because they refused to do it. While they live in a lavish upscale home they are making us suffer through higher electric bills and possible fire conditions.

I would like to know if they can be forced to make the repairs to the pool pump and if we can recover lost expenses due to their lack of timely repair to the HVAC system.

Answer
Gary,
So sorry you are having these issues.  

The easiest and fastest thing to do is get an attorney who specializes in landlord tenant issues.  Of course, this will be the most expensive. A strongly worded letter written by a reputable attorney will most likely get the changes needed.  

The next step is to take the landlord to small claims court and ask the court if you can continue to put the rent into an escrow account with the court.

Another step is to try and find a community based free legal service that would help you.

The very last step but a risky one. Stop paying your rent and let the landlord start the eviction process.  When the eviction notice comes respond immediately and ask for a court date.  In court, bring all your evidence and tell the judge you will gladly put the rent money into escrow with the court.  This is very risky and you would want legal advice.  

Bottom line...you can show damages both from your right to habitable residence and the monetary damages due to the landlords neglect i.e electric bills etc. Also, as a disabled person maybe you have recourse under the ADA act. www.ADA.gov

Is the landlord the owner of the house or a management company? If you are dealing with a management company use the county property appraiser website to find the owner of the property. If you can contact the homeowner and tell them what is going on. Many times the homeowner is unaware how badly the management company is treating the property. When they find out they just might help you.  

I hope this helps.

Regards,
Steve Schiffer
Olde Town Brokers, Inc.

Real Estate: Florida

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Steve Schiffer

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Licensed real estate agent since 2003

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