WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Every morning for the past three and a half weeks, Lys Joseph props open the front door to his West Palm Beach apartment.
“It’s to make a little bit of air circulate in the house,” said Joseph.
His living room fan is always on. However, the air conditioning unit sits still.
Joseph said it's broken, and adds apartment complex maintenance workers can’t fix it.
“They tell me they can’t find a piece that they need to put in the AC,” said the security guard. “They say anywhere, they can’t find it.”
He is worried that the hot apartment is dangerous to his family, especially his 6-month-old granddaughter.
“That’s why we want to let them know it's serious,” said Joseph. “They have to do something.”
Contact 5 asked the Palms West Apartment complex why it is taking so long to help Joseph’s family. Office workers would not comment.
But the complex is not obligated to fix the broken air condition unit.
Under Florida law, landlords are not required to provide or maintain air conditioning.
“I had somebody from my staff bring it up a couple of years ago, and I almost fell out of my chair,” said State Representative Michael Grieco. “Whether you’re a climate change denier or not, it’s hot. It’s Florida.”
He introduced a bill to force landlords to provide air conditioning as part of a standard lease.
The bill died in committee.
“There’s always some organized pushback, because it puts a lot of pressure on apartment complexes and things like that,” said Grieco.
“As a human, you rent somewhere to live better,” said Joseph, who went to court to ask that he pay rent into an escrow account.
If a judge rules in his favor, the rent money will stay in escrow, until either the problem is resolved to the satisfaction of the court, or if the money should be awarded to the landlord or tenant.
Grieco is not seeking re-election but hopes someone will champion making air conditioning mandatory in Florida’s next legislative session.
Landlord-tenant attorneys said renters should ask for air conditioning maintenance to added to their leases before they sign.
While landlords under Florida law do not have to provide or maintain air conditioning, these are some of the items they are required to provide:
- running water
- secure roofs, doors, and windows
- smoke detectors
- trash removal