When you rent an apartment or condo, you’d expect to have a working AC system, especially in the worst of the heat and humidity. What you may not realize is that no Florida law requires landlords to fix a broken AC system. If you want a cool, low-humidity environment, you might have no choice but to pay for those repairs yourself.
In 2021, Representative Michael Grieco and Senator Jason Pizzo filed bills (HB 819 and SB 1134) requiring Florida landlords to maintain working air conditioning systems. Currently, landlords are only required to have a working heating system, adequate plumbing with cold and hot water, and roofs, windows, doors, stairs, foundations, and walls that are in good repair. Pest control, trash removal, smoke detectors, working locks, and safe common areas are also on the list.
There’s no law regarding air conditioning beyond it being the tenant’s responsibility to use AC in a “reasonable” manner. If you live in a rented house, apartment, condo, etc. and the AC breaks down, your landlord is not legally required to fix it, as the bills to change this died in the subcommittee and in the Judiciary.
While it’s obvious that state laws won’t protect you, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Before you sign a lease, take these steps.
Ask to See the Repair and Maintenance History
When you’re touring rentals, ask the landlord or agent if there is documentation regarding the maintenance of the AC system. A system that has been properly maintained is a safer bet than a system with no history. You may have your heart set on a specific rental home, but it can end up being a costly experience if the system has been ignored and abused.
Find out who installed it. If the landlord bought a system on sale and had a friend install it, it may not be the proper size for that space. Your utility bills could rise drastically if the system is running too much or turning on and off rapidly. Plus, that will wear out motors faster, so you’d pay for repairs sooner than you might expect.
Weigh How Long You Plan to Live There
If you’re signing a six-month or year-long lease, what happens at the end of the lease? Are you planning to stay there or will you be moving out? Paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for an AC installation may not be a smart decision if you plan to move out within a couple of years. You want to benefit from your investment.
Instead, pay for the bare minimum when it comes to repairs. You want a system that will work for you while you’re there, but if the landlord isn’t allowing you to deduct the repairs from your rent, it’s not worth a big investment when you won’t benefit from it for long.
You may be looking for a rent-to-own contract. If that’s the case, invest fully in your AC system now and avoid headaches down the road when your rental property changes hands and becomes your property.
Don’t Sign a Lease Until You Have Discussed AC Repairs
Before signing any lease, ask the potential landlord who is responsible for paying for air conditioner repairs. This is when you want to address AC repairs as an added clause in the lease. If the landlord refuses to add an AC maintenance clause, you may want to look for a different rental. Otherwise, you’ll want to have the AC inspected before you sign the lease.
The last thing you want is to sign a lease, move in, and learn the AC doesn’t work efficiently. All Year Cooling offers a free three-point AC evaluation with any service call. You’ll have all of the information you need to know if repairs are needed to have the system functioning properly or if the system is old and inefficient and needs to be replaced. It puts some of the power back in your hands so that you can make a smart decision before you agree to a long lease.
See If the Landlord Will Meet You Halfway
Suppose you’ll have to pay to repair or install a brand-new AC system. You don’t own the property, so the landlord gains the benefits, as removing equipment that is attached to the home could be considered damage. If property values go up for things you’ve paid to replace or repair, you want to know that you’re going to benefit, too.
You might find a landlord willing to shave 10% off the monthly rent if you pay for a new AC system. It doesn’t always happen, but it never hurts to ask. You may find that the landlord is willing to pay for part of the installation, especially if federal tax incentives, lower energy bills, and state rebates will return some of the landlord’s investment.
Have the Ducts Cleaned
If you are moving into the rental, consider having the ducts professionally cleaned. You don’t know what the other tenants did within the rental. They may have had pets, smoked inside the home, or had an issue with mold or mildew that you can’t tell after everything got a fresh coat of paint.
If the ducts have mold or mildew, it puts your health at risk. You may be able to see some signs after removing a vent cover, but you can’t see deep into the ducts. A professional AC technician can go in with cameras and check the condition of the ducts and give them a full cleaning. If restoring or sanitizing are recommended, it’s worth it to protect your health. Clean ducts also help with the AC system’s efficiency.
Make Sure You Keep Up With the Maintenance
Whether your landlord is willing to pay for all or some of the AC maintenance, make sure you schedule these appointments. Catching potential issues in the early stages can extend the life of your AC system.
The technicians at All Year Cooling are all specially trained and undergo continual training to be the best at what they do. We have decades of experience diagnosing, repairing, and installing central AC systems and are here to help you decide what the best steps are to ensure you have a cool, comfortable home.
Ask All Year Cooling about our off-season discounted prices on new installs and the 10-year warranty we offer with a new install. The warranty is especially helpful if you plan to stay in that rental for a long time or are aiming for a rent-to-own situation. Our services and warranty can save you a lot of money and ensure you’re comfortable in your new home for as long as you’re there.