Today we filed a Fair Housing Complaint for an Hispanic Female tenant in Texas who believed her landlord, a non-Hispanic male, was refusing to make timely repairs, or repairs at all, to her unit.

What many tenants fail to recognize is that the Fair Housing Act can offer a remedy to a any person who believes their landlord, or property manager, is either failing, refusing, or even significantly delaying repairs or maintenance to their property.  The tenant in this case happened to know that other tenants in her building were being provided timely repairs- many of whom were not Hispanic Females.

So- what was the repair she needed?  Heat.

In fact since her first day of occupancy the heater provided by her landlord did not sufficiently heat her home.  The average daily temperature in her home was between 48 and 54 degrees with the heat ON.  Heating and ventilation are necessary for one to use and enjoy their home.  The cold air temperature of her dwelling posed a serious risk to her health.  The tenant requested repairs on three different occasions, and on each occasion her landlord refused.

In Florida, where the heat can be above 85 degrees every day, even through October, one can make the case that air conditioning would be an amenity necessary to enjoy the benefits of fair housing- this is certainly true if the tenant did not agree to provide their own air conditioners in the lease agreement.

The tenant’s property in this case was not marketed to be without heat, air conditioning, or a functioning ventilation system.  Neither did the lease agreement address the role and responsibility  of appliances such as washers and dryers, or other amenities.  The landlord therefore is responsible to provide a habitable property free of hazards so the tenant can enjoy and use the property.  At 48 degrees, this property is not habitable.

Let’s say the landlord did eventually fix the heater, or install a heater to provide heat?  If the delay was unreasonable the tenant still would have a valid Fair Housing Complaint against her landlord or property manager.  How long would unreasonable be if you had to sleep in a bedroom whose air temperature hovered in the 40s?

So is not providing heat Discrimination?  It can be under the Fair Housing Act.

For more about landlords failing or refusing to provide maintenance and repair services, please contact us.

Written By,

Patrick Coleman
Civil Rights Advocates: Lacefield & Coleman

Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.

Attorneys At Law

901 Eastern Ave.
Unit 2
Fall River, MA 02723

Office:  888-269-0688


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