WILLOWICK, Ohio – The Fair Housing Resource Center stepped in to help a disabled tenant in a high-rise apartment complex in Willowick who had no air conditioning in her unit for nearly a month. The lack of working air conditioning, coupled with the woman’s COPD and other health issues, forced her to spend three days in the hospital over Memorial Day weekend, the tenant said .
After receiving emergency funding from the county, the Fair Housing Resource Center was able to temporarily move tenant Darlene King to an extended-stay hotel in Mentor, providing a brief respite from what has been a frustrating four weeks, she said.
“All this could have been avoided if [property management] just listened to me and had someone come in and put in a new (AC) unit,” King said. “It could have been avoided, but they don’t care. The owner is there to collect money and that’s about it.
On May 20, King said she started noticing that her air conditioning unit in her $1,000-a-month apartment in Shoregate Towers was starting to blow only hot air. King, who has COPD and struggles to breathe on even the best of days, shares the apartment with two other family members, one of whom also has COPD.
Knowing how important it is to her to be in a climate-controlled environment, King said she immediately alerted management to the faulty air conditioning unit. Initial maintenance requests were not taken seriously, King said.
“I kept going down [to the front office] saying, ‘look, I need this air conditioning. I’m going to end up in the hospital,” King said. “That’s exactly where I ended up.”
King’s brother ended up having to take him to the hospital over Memorial Day weekend. At the time, King said she hoped her situation would have warranted a quick response from the landlord. She eventually had to turn to the Fair Housing Resource Center for help.
“She made it very clear to management that she was a disabled person; that she was on oxygen; that she had breathing problems; that is essential for her. She was going nowhere,” said Patricia Kidd, a lawyer and executive director of the Fair Housing Resource Center. “I feel like [property management officials] don’t take it as seriously as they should.
Kidd said she began opening lines of communication with management and an attorney representing the landholding company. Although he has kept several officials affiliated with Shoregate Towers informed of the situation, Kidd said property management has not committed to knowing when or if King’s air conditioning unit will be repaired.
Although Ohio law does not require landlords to provide air conditioning, let alone repair air conditioning units if they break down, the realities of King’s medical conditions make air conditioning reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, Kidd said.
“In Darlene’s circumstances, being a person on oxygen and dealing with several issues that affect her breathing, she needs to be in a temperature-controlled environment,” Kidd said. “The Ohio landlord-tenant law also contains rules and regulations about a landlord’s responsibilities under the code and it’s part of those responsibilities: taking care of your homes and making sure they’re suitable. and habitable. People in 2022 should not live in uninhabitable situations. »
News 5 has reached out to complex management for comment.
Kidd said she heard from other tenants at Shoregate Towers who were also frustrated with maintenance requests that were allegedly ignored. She encourages tenants to contact the Fair Housing Resource Center help.
“Hopefully the management will get a sudden enthusiasm to solve the problems,” Kidd said.