Tenant goes without heat after landlord refuses to make repairs

Tenant goes without heat for months after landlord refuses to make repairs

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Jureen Hendrickson's heating and air unit outside hadn't worked since she began renting the place. Jureen Hendrickson's heating and air unit outside hadn't worked since she began renting the place.
Just before Christmas, she bought a space heater to warm her dining room. Then, about two weeks ago, her landlord bought a second space heater after she complained that her home was cold. Just before Christmas, she bought a space heater to warm her dining room. Then, about two weeks ago, her landlord bought a second space heater after she complained that her home was cold.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - When you rent an apartment or home, landlords are supposed to provide the basics, like heat. The provision is part of Tennessee's Landlord Tenant Act and the rule applies statewide.

In Tennessee, tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards, and the law states, the home has to be in good repair.

An East Knoxville woman says she's been reminding her landlord about the rules for more than a year, but little has been done.

She finally got so fed up, she called the city to come take a look.

It's been 15 months since Jureen Hendrickson's landlord sent her a space heater to warm her home in East Knoxville.  

Her heating and air unit outside hadn't worked since she began renting the place at $475 per month.

"It's a 1500 iHeater. That's what he provided me with when I first moved in here. Now the funny thing is when the temperature dipped in November of last year, I dropped to 57 degrees in here," Hendrickson said.

Just before Christmas, she bought a space heater to warm her dining room. Then, about two weeks ago, her landlord bought a second space heater after she complained that her home was cold.

Her electric bill was $244 last month for a house that's about 1,000 square feet. Apparently the compressor to the heat and air unit is broken.

"I did my research with the Landlord Tenant Act and he is supposed to provide me with adequate heat and air which he had not done," she said.

Last summer, her landlord installed a window air conditioning unit at the side of the home and another in the front.

Hendrickson pointed out an outdoor lighting fixture that needs to be repaired. There's also apparent structural problems and a big hole in the side of the house.

"There is a tremendous draft in the house. There's a cat that lives in there. I've covered it up from keeping him from coming and going," she said.

Still, the landlord hasn't responded.

"He's done nothing. He's been cited by codes right now and he's very upset with me," she said.

Disgusted with her landlord's reluctance to make repairs, she contacted the city. The Codes Enforcement Office in Knoxville cites nearly a dozen violations in a report.

Among some of things, the landlord is required to close a hole in the house and make repairs, he's been ordered to fix an unsecured ceiling fan and light, to repair the ceiling in one of the bedrooms, which the report says is damaged.

There's also a soft spot in the bathroom floor.

"You can stand here and I can go up and down as if I'm on a trampoline," said Hendrickson.

Then there's the heating and air unit. The city ordered the landlord to fix it.

"He told me because he has to install a unit in just 48 hours and it's going to cost him over $7,000 that I have to leave," she said.

6 On Your Side contacted the landlord, William Dunlap.  

Hendrickson, he said, apparently misunderstood him when he said only if the city condemns the house would she be been given 30 days notice.

Dunlap said he totally renovated the home two years ago. He also said the heating and air unit will be repaired.

"I hope within the next 24 hours," he told 6 On Your Side.

Repairmen put the finishing touches on the new heating and air unit on Monday. William Dunlap got it repaired quickly.

"Needless to say I'm a happy camper. I don't feel as if I'm in an icebox, but I'm in a real home now. I'm happy that it was put in," Hendrickson said.

The landlord has been given 120 days to make other repairs at the home before the city signs off on its final inspection.

Maintenance is a big part of the rental process. It can be expensive, especially with older homes or apartments.

But the Landlord Tenant Act has rules that property owners are required to follow to assure the safety and well being of their renters.


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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