FORT MYERS, Fla. - A WINK News investigation uncovered that a renter in Florida doesn't have a legal right to working air conditioning. We also found that problems with mold and leaking water are not good enough reasons for you to break your lease. We take a look at some of the options renters do have if they feel their living conditions are not what they should be.
We got a call from a family who had no air conditioning in the middle of summer. When we showed up to her home, it was 90-degrees in her apartment unit.
"I come home because this is what I have to deal with and it's just a miserable feeling to lay here at night," Roslyn Bass a mother of three told us. "Right now it's registering at 87-degrees. At nighttime it goes as high as 92-degrees."
Bass says she was without air conditioning for nearly three weeks. The air is back on now, but we were surprised to learn that a broken ac unit was a problem that was not required by law to be fixed.
"It's a warm state but the law provides for the landlord to require or to provide heating in the winter time but it says nothing about cooling any other time of the year," explained attorney David Fineman with Dellutri Law Group. "If you want it, then you've got to have your lease say so."
In Florida, where the heat index can be more than 100-degrees, it's not required by law that you have air conditioning in a unit you're renting. It's also not a legitimate reason to withhold rent or break a lease, unless your lease says you are entitled to air conditioning.
Bottom line: it comes down to making sure everything you want and expect to have in a rented property is spelled out clearly in your lease.
"If one of your requirements is to have working air conditioning at all times, then you would want to put that into your contract. If the landlord is willing to accept that provision, then write it in, put it in your contract," said Fineman.
At Audubon Cove Apartments in South Fort Myers three former tenants featured in our investigation on July 9th, all claimed to have mold issues. They backed up those claims with photos and paperwork. If you're renting, Fineman says take note of everything before you move in and before you move out.
"Definitely want to document-- pictures, because the landlord is going to have it especially if its one of these big corporate property type management facilities," he said.
Click on the links below for more on what is and what is not required by law if you're a renter.