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Christopher B, Esq
Christopher B, Esq, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 2982
Experience:  Litigation Attorney
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The thermostat on our hvac broke 3 weeks ago making us tenants

Customer Question

The thermostat on our hvac broke 3 weeks ago making us tenants unable to control the temperature in the house, the unit is either on or off. The only way to turn on/off is at the breaker switch. Summer is here and we can not sustain leaving the unit off during the hot days. The landlord has failed to fix the issue and our utility bill has doubled. What can I do about the this? Can I request a credit for the increased bill?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 2 years ago.
What state are in?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Texas
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 2 years ago.
First, look in your lease and see if there is a provision in your lease that deals with air condition. If there is then this provision will control. Second if there is no such provision the question would be if the landlord has breached the warrant of habitability. In Texas, probably not. The warranty of habitability is a law which requires a landlord to make a reasonably diligent effort to repair or remedy any condition which materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant. However, under this law, a tenant can force a landlord to repair damages or defects only when all of the following conditions have occurred:
(1)Notice of the defect has been given to the landlord (preferably in writing)
(2) All rent due has been paid in full
(3) The landlord, after notification of the problem, has failed to attempt repairs in a reasonable period of time.
If the above conditions have all been met, the tenant may either terminate the lease or sue the landlord. Before the tenant may do either, the tenant must give notice to the landlord in writing that the tenant intends to sue or terminate the lease unless the condition is repaired in seven days.
Any court action taken by a tenant in respect to this law must be filed in the district or county court, and cannot be filed in the Justice of the Peace courts. This means that tenants will probably need to hire an attorney to represent them. When a lawsuit is filed, all attorney's fees must be paid by the party who loses.
A landlord may not, within six months from the date of the tenant's repair notice, retaliate against a tenant by eviction, decreasing services, or raising the rent. If a rental increase is applied in a systematic manner, however, it will not be considered retaliation. An eviction would not be considered to be retaliation if a tenant has been delinquent in his rent, caused property damage to the premises, threatened the personal safety of the landlord or his employees, or otherwise breached the rental agreement.
It is important to keep in mind that this law prohibits a tenant from withholding rent when a landlord fails to make repairs. Also, a landlord has no duty to repair damages or defects caused by the tenant, the tenant's family or guests. Tenants should note that this law covers only the very basic conditions that affect the tenant's health or safety, and does not include the comforts which a tenant may take for granted. These less basic conditions should be made a specific part of a written lease.
A landlord's failure to properly maintain an air conditioner that he has already provided is not a matter of rental law, it's a matter of contract law.
Generally speaking, the rule is that if your landlord has provided you with an appliance, he is contractually obligated to provide one for the duration of your lease. He must also maintain and keep it in working order.
In other words, if the unit was placed in your apartment by your landlord, air conditioning must be maintained until you move out. A failure to do so would likely put your landlord in breach of contract, allowing you to potentially reduce your rent or move elsewhere.
This argument might not work before all judges and will probably mean that you would have to retain an attorney if your landlord will not agree with this. It might also get you evicted or possibly sued under §92.058. Where the tenant wrongfully invokes rights of repair, etc., the landlord may recover damages, penalty damages of up to $500, and his attorney fees under §92.058. You would have to hire a local attorney which would probably end up costing more than the repairs themselves as well as it will be a big hassle.
The answer to your question is under landlord tenant law you can not deduct the cost of fixing the thermostat as no air conditioning is not consider to break the warranty of habitability in the state of Texas. You could take a risk and do this under contract law but in this circumstance it will probably not be worth it.
If you have any further questions, please let me know. If not please positively rate my answer.
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 2 years ago.
I see that you have viewed my answer. If you do not have any further questions and you feel that I have fully answered your question, please positively rate my answer.
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 2 years ago.
It has been a few days since I provided you a service and answered your question. Do you have any further questions? If not please positively rate my answer as it is the only way I will be compensated.

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