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Problems in Georgia

Posted by MWF on September 22, 1998 at 22:27:28:

I am currently leasing a townhouse from the property's sole owner here in Georgia. At the beginning of August we received our electric bill and was appalled at the $256 we owed. We felt like idiots for not noticing earlier however the air conditioning runs all of the time and does not cool the house. The temperature in the hose ranges from 80 to 92 degrees. We contacted our landlord, via phone, to let him know of the problem. He wrote back to us in a letter (yes, I have a copy of the letter) indicating that the repair person would be contacting us regarding the air conditioner. The repair person came over several times (2 times he put freon in the lines) and tried to find a leak. He was unable to find a leak and reported this to our landlord. Several days after the repair person's last visit, my roommate and I contacted him several times by phone letting him know the temperature in the house was up to 90 degrees and the adverse condition still existed. In one phone call to him we stated that if we did not hear from him within 24 hours we were going to contact another repair person to fix the unit and would deduct the cost from our rent. We felt reasonable time had passed since he was made aware of (and acknlowledged in a letter) the problem with the air conditioner. This phone call resulted in him calling us back. He agreed that we could contact a repair service and schedule an appointment. We did this and our landlord came out to meet with the repair person. Since they were unable to find the freon leak, they decided to put dye in the unit and come back a week later. They put a fresh charge of freon in the unit to mitigate the situation. After four days, the freon was gone out of the system and our temperatures went from 79 to about 85 degrees. The following week, the repair service we had contacted came back for a follow up and felt he found the leak. He showed the unit to the landlord and suggested the whole outside fan unit needed to be replaced at a cost of appx $1500. It has now been 8 days since that assessment. Yesterday, we contacted our landlord and he stated he was not going to fix it since he was going to sell it after we move out which will be at the end of October and stated he had already paid $150.00 to have the service assess the problem.

A month has gone by since his written acknowledgement of the problem and the house is very uncomfortable and our electric bill is beyond what it should be.

For those of you kind enough to have read through this lengthy scenario, I would like to solicit a defensible solution to this problem. I would like to terminate the lease since he has not fulfilled his legal obligation to repair the air conditioning unit. According to Landlord Tenant laws in the state of Washington, we would be allowed to vacate the property and have the remaining portion of the rent and security deposit returned. Unfortunately, I have not found any specific Georgia cite that would allow me to defend myself if I were to take this course of action. Understandably, I do not wish to pay an attorney money to tell me I can or cannot do this however I would be more than happy to retain an attorney if the landlord decides to contest this action. I am hoping there is some defensible action. If anyone knows or has any comments related to this situation, I am all ears.

M. Foley

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