Rights of renters when it comes to broken appliances

Published: Jun. 19, 2018 at 4:49 PM EDT
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

(WRDW/WAGT) – With temperatures soaring into triple digits and air conditioners working overtime, the risk of units breaking grows higher by the day.

But if you’re renting a property in Georgia or South Carolina, there are some different rules you may think you have to follow. To clear up any confusion, News 12 looked into the laws surrounding repairing air conditioners and the rights of tenants.

Under laws outlined in the Georgia Landlord’s Tenant Handbook, the landlord is only responsible for repairs to a broken air conditioner if they provided it upon move-in. If the tenant purchased their own unit, the landlord isn’t liable if it breaks.

If the landlord did purchase and provide the unit and fails to get it repaired within a reasonable amount of time after notification, there are three directions a tenant could take.

First, the tenant has the right to file a lawsuit against the landlord, stating he or she failed to repair the unit. This only works if there is written proof that the renter immediately gave written notice to the landlord of the problem.

A second option for the renter is to contact the code inspector, but as we told you earlier this month, it could take months or even years before seeing a repair.

The final option for tenants is also available to renters in South Carolina. In both states, as long as the landlord has been notified, the renter can have a licensed professional perform the repair at a reasonable cost, then deduct that cost from future rent.

However, if the tenant does not notify the landlord prior to making the repair, they can argue the repair was unnecessary or completed at an unreasonable cost.

The best scenario in repair-and-deduct situations is to make sure the landlord is notified in writing, and ideally get him or her to agree to the cost before getting the repairs done.

When choosing to repair and deduct, a tenant should always keep copies of all receipts and ask the professional for a statement explaining all the work that was done.

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