In the peak of the July summer heat, the temperatures in Kentucky can regularly slip past 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot and humid summers are the reason that local legislature passed laws stating that landlords must maintain the air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical at their rental homes.
How Long Does the Landlord Have?
Perhaps the biggest thing to keep in mind here is that the law varies by location, even within the state of Kentucky. Multiple cities and counties, like Louisville, have adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA), which dictates that landlords need to keep their rental homes in habitable condition, which includes plumbing, heating, and air conditioning, among other elements.
In areas that have adopted the URLTA, tenants must inform landlords of air conditioning issues in writing. If the landlord doesn’t remedy the problem, tenants can send a notice stating that the landlord has 14 days to rectify the issue. There are several options from there, including rectifying the issue yourself or terminating the lease.
For areas that don’t abide by the URLTA, read through your lease, as that document is what governs landlord responsibilities.
How to Deal With an Unresponsive Landlord
First, the tenant must send a written notice to the landlord to describe their acts of noncompliance. It would be wise for the tenant to keep a copy of the written notice. The notice needs to include information about what the noncompliance entails and outline the actions that will be taken if the breach isn’t rectified.
Tenants have a legal obligation to give the landlord access to the property to make the repairs, but they must give the tenant two-day notice beforehand. That being said, there are exceptions to this rule, such as:
- The tenant vacated the property already.
- A court order grants the landlord access.
- An emergency requires immediate access.
What Can a Tenant Do?
Landlords that don’t respond to a request for repairing the AC could face a lawsuit for damages that occur because of it. In some cases, a lack of AC has led to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
Under the URLTA, tenants may choose to arrange for the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the next month’s rent, as long as the costs are considered reasonable. When that’s the case, tenants can deduct up to half their monthly rent. The tenant must show an itemized list of the expenses for the repairs.
Another option is to find another place to live until the landlord procures the essential services in question, without paying rent during that time on the property that has the issue.
Finally, tenants can also inform landlords in their notice that their lease will terminate in 30 days if the issue is not rectified within 14 days of the landlord receiving the notice. (This means that the lease would terminate in 16 days after the time the landlord is required to have fixed the issue.)
Under Kentucky Landlord-Tenant laws, you may have a right to withhold rent from the landlord if they don’t make the required repairs. You can check the housing codes and report the landlord to the city and county housing inspectors if in violation. This report will send public officials to the property to see if a violation occurred.
The officials will serve as evidence in court if it goes that far. The judge often looks more favorably on tenants when they can demonstrate evidence. In some cases, they may rule that the landlord must pay the tenant even if they made the repairs, as the landlord is responsible for the property in the first place.
What About a Landlord Who Tries to Force the Tenant to Leave?
Let’s say that the landlord has stopped repairing the AC to force you out of the rental property. Legally, landlords cannot interrupt any of the essential services like AC, electricity, heating, water or gas. The courts may look at things like this as an act of retaliation. Landlords can’t increase the rent or threaten to evict a tenant who exercises their legal rights either since the judge may see this as an act of retaliation.
Tenants who suffered retaliatory conduct may receive no less than $150 and no more than $900 while recovering the possession of the rental agreement or terminating it.
Element Air LLC is a locally owned business in Louisville. We aim to have competitive prices and to guide you through every step of your air conditioning repair or installation process. From heating tune-ups to new air conditioners and more, we want to help keep your Louisville, KY home as comfortable as it can be. Call us at Element Air LLC today!