Georgia is sub-tropical, and the state experiences temperatures in the high 80s for most of the summer, with the highest temperature on record being 112 degrees Fahrenheit. With such notoriously hot, sticky weather, a broken air conditioner in an apartment can be a dangerous thing for a lot of people, especially the elderly and very young.
The first thing a renter should do about a broken AC is to notify the landlord in writing. But repairs may take a few hours or days, if at all. Many people aren’t aware of the landlord-tenant law in Georgia. Broken air conditioning is a complicated legal issue, and we’re going to cover the basics.
Is your Georgian landlord required to cover your AC repair?
According to the Georgia Landlord’s Tenant Handbook, a landlord is only responsible to cover the repairs if the landlord provided that AC unit upon move-in.
For those who provided their own AC, getting the units fixed or new units installed is not a part of renters’ rights. Air conditioning units are frequently not legally required for apartments in Georgia.
How long can a landlord leave you without air conditioning in Georgia?
According to Georgia landlord-tenant law, repairs for AC do not have to happen within a specific timeframe.Your lease agreement will likely have a timeframe in which repairs are required.
Air conditioning is not reason enough to move out before the lease has ended. According to the handbook, “The unit cannot merely be ‘uncomfortable,’ [sic] it must be completely uninhabitable.” It continues to say “…inoperable air conditioning for three days or air conditioning that does not meet the tenant’s comfort standards will probably not be considered constructive eviction.” Even for constructive eviction, there isn’t a specific timeframe and decisions tend to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Can you withhold rent for no air conditioning?
No, if a landlord won’t fix AC issues in Georgia, a tenant is not legally allowed to withhold rent.
The tenant does, however, have the right to “repair and deduct,” meaning that a qualified and licensed professional can repair the issue at a reasonable cost and then the tenant can deduct the cost from future rent, but the tenant is required to notify the landlord of this plan in writing, keep copies of repair receipts, and subtract the costs of next month’s rent with written receipts. Note that the landlord can claim that the repair was unnecessary or too costly, however.
Also, tenants have the right to either take legal action for damages or report the issue to public officials, though the latter process may take months.
Keep in mind, too, that landlords are not allowed to retaliate for code violations, such as threatening eviction.
What can one do while waiting for a landlord to fix the AC?
- Run a fan. Make sure your ceiling fan is pointing downward, as many people switch the direction of fans in the wintertime to suck up cool air.
- Draw shades and curtains over windows. Block out the heat from the sun as much as you can during the day, and then open those windows at night, letting in the cooler air.
- Turn off unnecessary electronics that create heat, like a machine dryer or dishwasher. Avoid using the stove and oven as much as possible. Unplug electronics that don’t currently need to be running.
- Cool those most affected people with a wet, cold towel on the back of the neck.
- Lay out ice on a baking sheet; this can marginally cool very hot areas.
- Stick to your coolest room in your house and avoid hotter areas. Also, if possible, avoid groups congregating in one space and creating body heat.
- If your apartment AC not working is really driving you up a wall, consider getting out of the house. While many stores and malls are not open, some air condition spaces like libraries are. Be sure to bring a mask for everyone going.
Hopefully, the issue of AC will not cause friction between you and your landlord in Georgia. AC experts at Gainesville Mechanical may be able to work with you or your landlord to make timeline repairs, or help you set up your repair-and-deduct plan. Connect with us today.