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Q: We rent out a condo where the association controls the air conditioning and all utilities. Our tenant reported to us that the apartment was without A/C for two days and it was unbearable, so they stayed in a hotel. With the summer heat, I am sure it was sweltering in the apartment. They want me to reimburse them. I think it is the condo’s problem. What should I do? — Anonymous
A: Typically, when a rental becomes uninhabitable in the short term, the tenant is entitled to an abatement of the rent for the time the apartment was uninhabitable. This would be a prorated amount of time when no rent is due.
Many tenants think the landlord would have to reimburse them for their hotel stay, but this is not how it works. Instead, they just do not owe rent for the time they could not use the unit. So if they were out for two days, then they would owe rent for 28 days out of 30, for example. This is another reason that I recommend that all tenants purchase renter’s insurance. It is important to see if your particular lease deals with this issue differently than the general rule.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with the condo association. While I suggest that the landlord ask the association for reimbursement, I doubt it will work. The association is not legally bound to give him any reimbursement unless the condo’s declaration explicitly states otherwise. However, it is worth a shot, especially since an association that controls the air conditioning is relatively rare and there may be a provision regarding this eventuality.
Not having to deal with issues like property taxes, broken appliances and condo association problems is one of the positives of being a renter — and one that many people think is a fair trade for their landlord realizing a small monthly profit and the gradual growth of the value of the home.
Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about industry legal matters and the housing market at SunSentinel.com/business/realestate each week. To ask him a question, email him at email@example.com, or go to SunSentinel.com/askpro.
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