PHOENIX - Everyone has a right to cool air. In fact, a Phoenix ordinance requires landlords to provide reasonable cooling to rental housing units.
As this excessive heat warning continues, we do our best to try to stay cool.
One of the areas we can be proactive to stay safe this summer is making sure our air conditioning units are in good working order.
Per city code, units with air conditioning must maintain a maximum of 82 degrees. Units with evaporative coolers? 86 degrees. If a renter isn't receiving adequate cooling, renters can file a complaint and the city will investigate.
“Oh extremely busy this time of year,” said Sharron Sauls, Landlord and Tenant Counselor for the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department.
The complaints vary.
“The landlord hadn't turned the chiller system on yet,” said Sauls. “Because the AC just failed, it's not cooling to what the law requires... one particular unit may be inoperable completely."
Sauls says tenants should expect certain things from their landlords and their air conditioning, especially during the summer months.
“Our first line of defense is educating the public,” she said. “The second line of defense is our code enforcement coming in to make sure the property is clean, safe and sanitary and habitable."
“The reading gun... it has a laser pointer, so it's taking a reading exactly off of this spot,” said Bob Lozier, Compliance Manager, who showed us how they take temperature readings.
“In this case it's in the low 60s,” he said. And of course every reading is different.
“So our temperature right now is settled at 74.1 degrees, so that's well within the limit of 82 degrees for an air-conditioned unit,” he said.
Lozier says if it was a reading of 84 or higher, they would start to question whether that system is really operating and they would take a deeper look.
The rules for landlords to live by are important, so their tenants can stay cool when we're facing brutally hot temps this summer. If a landlord doesn’t abide by the rules, the tenant has several options after providing a notice in writing to the landlord.
“Terminate the lease without penalty, sue for damages, generally for two months rent or two times the damages... they can get substitute services, maybe a window unit or substitute housing,” said Sauls.
The City of Phoenix is promoting summer safety by providing tips and facts to keep yourself safe in the intense heat.
The Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act is a state law, so counselors are available to educate people throughout the entire state through free counseling sessions, emails or phone calls.
You can find more information on the tenant and landlord counseling programs, go to their website.