As a renter, you may have compromised some of your apartment “wants,” like a pool and clubhouse, for the more basic apartment “needs” like proximity to work, two bedrooms or affordability.
While some sacrifices can reasonably be made when choosing an apartment, basic needs like fair treatment, a secure door, leak-free roof and access to heating and hot water should be non-negotiable. Whether you live in an apartment, flat or duplex, you want your space to have livable conditions and feel like home. And you also want to have a reasonable amount of control to make that happen.
So, you may be wondering if your landlord can control the utilities, such as your heat. While it may seem like a no-brainer, the answer is complicated and depends on where you live. Let’s take a look at the rules and regulations for landlords and tenant rights when it comes to things like heat and hot water in apartment buildings.
What is my landlord required to provide?
Property owners are held accountable for the implied warranty of habitability. Simply put, this means that landlords are required to provide safe and livable conditions for their tenants, and renters have the right to a livable property.
While requirements can vary by city and state, landlords are generally responsible for:
- Maintaining the structure of the building’s interior and exterior
- Keeping hallways, stairways and common areas clean and well-maintained
- Operating plumbing, sewage and ventilation
- Checking for environmental hazards
- Exterminating rodents and insects
- Supplying cold and hot water in appropriate quantities and at reasonable times
- Providing heat in appropriate quantities and during reasonable times
The “landlord must provide heat and hot water to tenants,” said Samuel Evan Goldberg of Goldberg & Lindenberg. “The hot water must be a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Landlords are required to provide heat during the months of October 31 through May 31. If the outside temperature is 55 degrees or below between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM it must be at least 68 degrees in the apartment building and between 10:00 PM. and 6 AM the inside temperature must be 62 degrees,” Goldberg explained.
Can my landlord control the heat?
So, under the implied warranty of habitability, landlords must provide access to heat. However, they can control it and they aren’t obligated to pay for it. Now that we’ve covered what landlords are required to provide, let’s discuss if they can control the heat.
David Resischer, Real Estate Attorney & CEO of LegalAdvice.com said, “Some multiple dwelling units only have a single thermostat and state laws typically do not restrict the ability of a landlord to control the heat in any of the tenant units. However, most state laws do require a landlord to provide and also to maintain heat at a designated temperature, typically at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.”
What are the laws?
There are regulations and laws in place nation-wide to protect both landlords and tenants. But, since climate and temperature changes so drastically from one region to another, laws can vary by city and state. For instance, landlords are required to provide heat, but they’re not required to provide air conditioning in all states.
Arizona laws require landlords to provide, “reasonable heat and reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions.” Because Arizona can reach dangerous temperatures in the summer, landlords are required to provide access to AC for tenant’s safety.
While that may be true in Arizona, it’s not the case in New York. Scott Stevensen, a New York City renter said, “Because there is no AC in some buildings, the tenant is left to buy an AC unit that fits in the old window frames where one lifts the window frame up and down — not sideways. The whole cost of electricity is almost always borne the tenant.”
To see what laws your state has in place, check out your state’s laws and regulations to see what landlords can and cannot do.
What to do if the landlord doesn’t follow through?
So, what happens if your landlord fails to provide heat, or controls it in such a way that isn’t livable? You have a few options:
- Schedule a meeting with the landlord and try to discuss the problem in person
- Write a formal complaint, make a copy and give it to your landlord to read
- Contact your local code enforcement officer
“If the landlord fails to provide heat or hot water, the tenant should call 311 and schedule an inspection date for an HPD inspector to inspect,” Goldberg said. “Once HPD issues a heat and hot water violation, which would be considered a C violation, it must be repaired immediately. Any other C violations, the Landlord has 24 hours to make the repair. If the landlord still fails to bring back the heat and hot water, the tenant should bring an HPD proceeding in housing court. The proceeding is predicated upon the HPD violation report and the judge will tell the landlord to repair the defective conditions in the tenant’s apartment. If the landlord fails to make the repairs, the judge could order civil penalties and in some cases, even hold the landlord in contempt of court.”
Know your rights
Ideally, you’ll have great landlords who meet your basic needs (and more). While that’s the dream, it doesn’t always happen that way. So, it’s smart to know your rights and fully understand your lease as a renter and know what you’re entitled to.
At a minimum, renters should have a clean, safe, well-maintained apartment that meets their basic human needs.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional financial or legal advice as they may deem it necessary.
Published at Fri, 29 Nov 2019 13:00:01 +0000
The vast majority of Americans — around 96 percent — now own a cell phone, reports the Pew Research Center.
If you’re one of the growing numbers of people who have ditched their landline, you’re probably looking to save money on your cell phone bill. Really, who isn’t? The good news is that wireless service is getting a lot less costly. You could even say cheap. But if you’re not feeling the discount just yet, get ready to.
Carriers and cities make a big difference
Did you know that some cities are cheaper than others for cell phone plans? It could be part of your decision-making process if you’re looking to relocate, on the job market and looking for a new apartment.
Today, the average monthly cell phone bill runs in the $180 range for a family plan. But if you want to spend $10 or less a month, it’s plausible if you switch from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon to one of the smaller carriers that run on the bigger carriers networks.
These smaller carriers might cap their internet speeds but could be perfect as an emergency phone or starter phone for kids.
If you’re looking for other ways to cut your cell phone costs, consider these 10 tips.
1. Check your coverage
Look into the Root Metrics coverage map. Plug in your zip code to see which carrier has the best network technologies (essentially, the strongest signal) where you live, work and play. And, always remember to check the strength of your cell service while you’re apartment hunting.
Network coverage could help you decide which carrier to choose with the best cost-savings plan. It could also help you determine which apartment to choose based on testing your cell signal inside.
But if the signal is not ideal, you could always use signal boosters and microcells. Or, alternatively, you could hang on to your landline. It’s crucial if you’re in a bad location and have trouble getting service indoors.
2. Know your data limits
Concerns about gigabytes or the lack thereof are no joke. But seriously, do you really need unlimited data? If the answer is “no,” then do your research. Get into a less expensive plan.
It’s a smart move if your expectation is to use less than 2-3GB monthly. The average smartphone owner uses 2GB to 5GB of data each month, according to Nerdwallet.
3. Lose the contract, go for a prepaid plan
Are you worried about contracts? Don’t be. Most carriers have done away with them, anyway. And don’t worry about an early termination fee, either. Your carrier will likely help by paying it for you.
You can also budget your cell phone bill for the long term with a prepaid plan. That lets you wipe out unexpected costs. With prepaid plans, your charges reflect a specific amount at the start of the month. This amount is for your agreed-upon volume of talk, text and data.
AT&T has basic prepaid plans. They run between $35 and $85 a month. Autopay and you can save even more. You could be looking at cutting between $5 and $15 monthly. Cheaper plans offer 1GB and 8GB of data. They roll over and include a mobile hot spot.
4. Keep your current phone
There’s always lots of attention when a new phone iteration comes to market. You want to be a part of the elite club. Some sage advice: Keep your phone longer. It will save you money.
There’s no need to upgrade every year or two, writes TJ McCue on Forbes.com. Stay with what you’ve got, especially if it still works.
5. Shop rival plans
Consider smaller and prepaid carriers. Look at Cricket, Boost and Metro PCS, for example, as options that save bucks.
Carriers list their plans in plain sight. See how they stack up to what you’re paying now, suggests CNBC. And, don’t forget to ask your employer if there’s a company-wide discount for a wireless carrier, too.
6. Use Wi-Fi
Stop it by going to your App Settings on Facebook and choose Never Autoplay Videos. Or, simply connect to Wi-Fi to save data.
7. Cut out background data
Your email is background data in cell phone lingo. Save on your data allowance to save money.
Restrict background data usage in your network settings menu. Only check email when you’re on Wi-Fi. Consider this when you near the limit of your monthly data allowance.
8. Stream music and videos on Wi-Fi only
Data hungry content can cost you. Avoid using mobile data to stream music and videos and high-quality images. Instead, store music and videos in your storage or download when connected to Wi-Fi.
9. Opt for family share plans
Do you have a family or a sibling you could share a plan with? Sharing data allowance is less of an issue if you’re using Wi-Fi when possible.
And, if you’ve used your data allowance wisely, savings will add up. Anywhere from $15 to $25 per month over a comparable individual plan.
10. Research promotions
The deals are definitely out there. You might have to act fast to take advantage of them. Since no one wants to pay more than they have to for decent cell service, consider an unlimited data plan for $25 a month from a carrier like Sprint.
For a limited time only means, well, just that. With a plan that’s less, you might have to buy a new phone upfront or bring in a compatible one.
Cut costs on your cell phone bill
It’s possible to save money on your cell phone bill when you follow these tips. Just think, even if you cut $20 a month from your bill, that’s an extra $240 a year that you’ll have in your pocket. Even if you have to make a few compromises with coverage, the savings might be worth it.
Published at Thu, 28 Nov 2019 13:00:19 +0000