You ‘ve heard the horror stories. . . . Tenants sweltering for days in the miserable Floridian summer heat and humidity. People dying—actual dying–of heat stroke. The humidity in the air is so high that it feels and looks like someone threw hot boiling water on the inhabitants of Florida. Therefore, it is no surprise that tenants without air conditioning in Florida can be made to feel down right miserable.
For example, the owner of a unit at Lely Pines Condos in Naples says it's been without air conditioning for three days as work is being done on the roof.
“They (called) me asking me if I knew that they're going to disconnect the (air conditioning) units. They go, ‘Well they're working on the roof and they turned it off since this morning,'” said Guillermo Lohfeldt, who owns one unit at the condominiums.
Lohfeldt said he wasn't informed of the construction or that the air conditioning would be turned off in advance. He quickly installed a temporary unit for the tenants in his unit in the meantime.
Regarding apartment living requirements, FloridaBar.org says: “It must have working plumbing, hot water, and heating, be structurally sound and have reasonable security, including working and locking doors and windows, and it must be free of pests.”
Yes. Heat is a requirement, but air conditioning is not. In Florida. How can you, as a Floridian tenant, make it a requirement?
First, check your local laws. For example, in Orange County, Florida, the housing code does not require a cooling system, but it does require ventilation. Most buildings rely on the HVAC system for ventilation. Thus, a tenant, in Orange County, Florida may be able to indirectly argue that the failure to maintain the HVAC is a housing code violation. If you don't understand the codes or local laws in your neck of the woods, consult with a professional who does.
Second, make sure that you negotiate that a properly working HVAC is an actual term in your lease. If you need assistance with drafting an amendment to your lease, you may need to consult with a professional before you sign your lease.
Third, before you sign the lease, ask your landlord if there have been any problems in the past with the HVAC system. Ask what the proposed timeline is for repairs. Then, confirm what the landlord tells you in writing back to the landlord. If you find out later that the landlord lied to you, you may use this fact as a way to terminate your lease for fraud.
In conclusion, although the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act does not require air conditioning for tenants who suffer through Florida's deadly summer heat, if this is an important and/or sensitive issue for you, there are ways that you can make it a require for YOU.