Digging Deeper: A code can force landlords to repair the AC - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: A code can force landlords to repair the AC

Summer won't officially arrive for another 12 days, but temperatures continue to approach or exceed 100 degrees every day.

If you don't have air conditioning, this heat wave can be dangerous.

Broken AC units can be costly to repair for property owners.

But a code in both Albany and Dougherty County can force landlords to make those repairs.

It's called the International Property Maintenance Code. It requires all landlords and property owners to provide heat in their homes, but it doesn't require you provide air conditioning, unless, the equipment is already there.

Nearly half a dozen Roses employees and shoppers called us this week when the East Albany store's air conditioning system broke, making the store unbearably hot. When we stopped today, they'd already made some of the repairs and were working on others. Where can you complain about a situation like this? Code Enforcement.

"We'll come out and take a look and try and work with the property owner and get it repaired," said Mike Tilson, Code Enforcement Director.

But what does work with property owners mean?

"We do everything from talking to them, to sending them a written notice, to putting them in court," said Tilson.

How could they be forced into a courtroom over air conditioning? Digging deeper we found both the city and county have adopted the International Property Maintenance Code. The code requires property owners to provide heat. It doesn't require them to provide air conditioning unless there is air conditioning equipment at the property. Then it must be in working order.

"If it is provided, if the equipment is there, the equipment is required to operate," said Tilson.

Realtors who own and manage rental property say at times the issue can be tricky. Sometimes a tenant may use the excuse their air isn't working, as a ploy to get out of paying rent.

"The owner says, I can't make the repair I don't have any money, they haven't paid their rent, and you're kind of caught in that cyclical catch 22," said Jackie Dixon, 1 Key Realty.

Property owners may not be responsible if they spell it out in a lease agreement, that the renter maybe responsible for specific maintenance.

"It is something that we want to do, we understand our tenants are more likely to pay their rent if they're satisfied and happy where they are," said Dixon.

So while it isn't a requirement, if the window or central unit that's there stops working there are some ordinances in place to make sure landlords deliver what's promised.

Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson says they have had instances where they're pulled property owners into court and a Judge has demanded they pay certain fines or even face jail time if they don't make the needed repairs.

Code Enforcement is complaint driven.

They don't inspect store or rental properties to make sure the air conditioning is running unless they get a complaint.

You can reach code enforcement by calling 311.

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