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We live in Baltimore County, MD and have a deficient A/C

situation causing unbearable living conditions...
We live in Baltimore County, MD and have a deficient A/C situation causing unbearable living conditions during 80+ degree outside temperatures in the main floor although the basement is cool
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: No since we were just informed of our rights
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: We are not resigning our lease until this matter is resolved
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Maryland
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
8/9/2017
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102,694
Experience: Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
Verified

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. You may also be offered a phone call, but those don’t come from me and are offered by the website and you are under no obligation to accept.

I am very sorry to hear about this situation. As a tenant, one's landlord owes the tenant a duty of habitability under Maryland Code, Real Property, §8-211. This means the landlord must (in part) fix any lack of heat, A/C, light, electricity, or hot or cold running water, except where the tenant is responsible for the payment of the utilities and the lack thereof is the direct result of the tenant's failure to pay the charges.

If the tenant gives WRITTEN notice of the condition to the landlord and a reasonable time to repair, presumed to be 30 days, and the landlord fails to repair, then the tenant may initiate a rent escrow, and pay the rent into court while suing the landlord, and take other actions and obtain other forms of relief. See Maryland Code, Real Property §8-211(j) et seq.

Let me know if you need a sample of the written notice.

"I STRIVE FOR FIVE!" My goal is to answer your question to your satisfaction. Please rate with five stars (★★★★★) and click SEND. It does not cost anything extra to rate. You may need to scroll left/right/up/down to see these stars. Rating my answer the bottom two stars or failing to submit the rating reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. If you are not satisfied for whatever reason, or, have follow up questions, please simply reply with SEND before or after rating and let's continue to chat until you are satisfied. This is what I am here for.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Further clarification:Since March 2015, we have been renting and living in a semi-detached house with a flat roof (no attic fan)
with a basement where the HVAC unit is (so it is always cool enough during the summer).
The 1st and only additional floor gets very hot in the summer to where it is barely
tolerable to walk around despite a 10,000 BTU portable AC unit, $450 with warranty, in the
dining room where the thermostat is (we keep it on 68 and it usually reads 75-90 now). We
had to buy a second portable AC unit, $350 with warranty, for our bedroom to sleep upstairs
at night (since our tenant in the basement won't let us share that cooler space to sleep.
We need to install a new 20A circuit to safely handle the additional load. The landlord
sent 2 different AC technicians at separate times using his maintenance policy for complete
servicing and then the annual inspection. They reported that the unit is functioning fine
but the flat roof and inadequate duct work are keeping the house so hot that the basement
unit can't cool the upstairs despite the portable AC unit and numerous floor fans running
constantly. We have not resigned our lease that expired 18 months for various reasons and he
hasn't raised our rent, perhaps because of the miserable living conditions in the summer. The
only thing we have yet to do about the cooling problems is to have the duct work cleaned,
estimated at $300-400; when Sears came to clean them, they insisted the furnace was "filthy"
and we should not waste money with the ducts until the furnace was cleaned for another $300.
That's when we had the system inspection that showed the furnace was not dirty. The landlord
said he will share the cost of the cleaning the ducts but the inspector said he doubts it will
help much. My wife is concerned that if we complain he will raise the rent or evict us. We
have talked about moving yet dread the mental and physical effort, we are both exhausted most
of the time, in the summertime in this hot house and the unknowns.Thank you

1) Do you have a written or verbal lease?

2) If verbal, how often do you pay? If written, when does it end?

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Joycelaw
Joycelaw, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 98
Verified
Phone call session started
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
we have a tough lease, provided to the landlord by a realty company, that expired in March 2016 yet has an automatic renewal clause for month to month with 30 days notice for us to vacate and retain our security deposit. we pay monthly and have never missed mailing a payment (see attached key lease sections / entire lease exceeds 5GB file limit by 1.41GB).

Thank you.

Your landlord never HAS TO renew the lease. However they cannot CANCEL it without good reason such as non-payment. Provided that you continue to pay, he cannot cancel it. If you exercise proper notice for him to fix the issue and her does not after reasonable time, then you can escrow the payment as described above. He can then TRY to void the lease and evict, but provided you can show that you went through the steps that there WAS AND IS AN ISSUE with warranty of habitability, you gave reasonable notice in writing, he received it, and did nothing after reasonable amount of time went by, then his eviction is likely to fail.

Kind Reminder: Please, use SEND button to keep chatting, or please rate positively and click SEND to submit your rating once satisfied. You may always ask follow ups at no charge before or after rating. "I STRIVE FOR FIVE!"

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I think we need to get an independent HVAC assessment during the hottest day about remedial options and cost estimates before we notify the landlord. It's actually 84 on the thermostat and portable AC unit and only 82 outside (although quite humid) If it costs $5-12,000 to upgrade the unit and fix/replace the duct work, he won't go for it. My wife is concerned that after "we go to war" with our landlord, we still won't have our AC fixed. Perhaps staying at a hotel and trying to recover those costs in cost may be possible. What would you do in our situation other than move
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I meant "trying to recover those costs in court"

No. I would follow the steps outlined for people just in your situation, which is:

1) give written notice of problem and reasonable time to cure, and

2) if the landlord fails to fix it, to escrow the pay and seek relief in small claims court.

Kind Reminder: Please, use SEND button to keep chatting, or please rate positively and click SEND to submit your rating once satisfied. You may always ask follow ups at no charge before or after rating. "I STRIVE FOR FIVE!"

Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102,694
Experience: Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
Verified
Ely and 87 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
you need not call me - will I still be charged the extra $59?

Not at all. "You may also be offered a phone call, but those don’t come from me and are offered by the website and you are under no obligation to accept."

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Please provide a sample of the written notice as you offered

Sure - one second please.

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Dear ___,

This certified letter is being sent to you in regards ***** ***** leased property on (ADRS). At this point, we have a serious issue with the property, namely (EXPLANATION OF ISSUE). As such, written notice is given that you under Maryland Code, Real Property §8-211 that the issue be fixed within __ days of your receipt of this certified letter.

If the issue is not fixed, we may have no choice but to pursue other legal means to resolve the issue.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Signature

Name

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
As I wrote - 09 August 2017 05:50
you need not call me - will I still be charged the extra $59?

I had responded to that - Not at all. "You may also be offered a phone call, but those don’t come from me and are offered by the website and you are under no obligation to accept."

Ask Your Own Real Estate Law Question
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
thanks for everything - I left a tip for Ely and would gladly use him again

Thank you and good luck going forward.

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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102,694
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Experience: Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.

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