An Open Letter to My Landlord

I alerted you to the air conditioning situation in the XXXX apartment of XXX address, last September when I moved in. I told you at that time that only a few of the vents worked, and nothing was done.
Over the winter, when temperatures got very low, I let you know that those same vents were under-performing. This resulted in my having to keep the thermostat on 80 degrees in order for it to be 65 degrees or so in the apartment, and I had to borrow a heater from you, and use two of my own space heaters. As a result of all this, my heating costs over the winter were much higher than they should have been. My electricity bill was $250-$300 per month, too.
This year, on June 13th, I let you know that the AC wasn’t functioning satisfactorily. You told me to check to see if the line was frozen and you told me to change the filter. I did, but still only one vent in the apartment actually blows, which is the vent in the bathroom. You commented that perhaps I perceived it that way because the bathroom is the smallest room. I told you that regardless of the bathroom being the smallest room, I was still able to tell that other vents simply were not blowing air. The bedroom vent trickles a bit of air, but not enough to make any difference in the temperature of the room.
i am not an idiot
You never sent over an AC tech like you promised.
On June 24th at 4:08 PM I checked in with you again. You did not respond.
On June 25th at 3:44 PM I sent you a text that said “Landlord, please respond about the AC.”
You responded at 6:09 PM that same day and asked the internal temperature of the apartment and to check the outdoor condenser for a frozen line. I responded that the temperature inside the apartment was 82 degrees despite the thermostat being set to 68 degrees. I told you the line on the compressor looked fine but that when I walked past the basement I felt cold air, leading me to the conclusion that ducts might be disconnected.
You responded that you left your AC tech a message and that you would let me know when he could come check it. The maximum temperature that day was 96 degrees. I responded to you that the heat was making me sick.
On June 29th I had a problem with the plumbing in the bathroom. Water welled up from the pipes into the bathtub and wouldn’t drain, the toilet wouldn’t flush and the wax ring around the toilet was leaking. I notified you of the problem at 9:21 AM and you responded at 1:33 PM asking what color the water was, if the tub had been draining normally until now, and if I would be home in the afternoon that day. You texted back at 1:48 (15 minutes or so later) and said that the plumber could likely get there that day (June 29th) but needed to know when I’d be home. You also asked if the water had drained since I plunged the bathtub. I went out for a while that afternoon since my bathroom wasn’t function. I responded at 3:30 and told you that the bathtub had drained, the water seemed clear, and that I’d be home around 4:30.
You responded at 4:11 PM that the plumber went on another call and would let you know when he would be free. You said that you might want to try a drain cleaner – that you had some at another property and you’d see how much was left when you went back there.
I asked you what would make water rush into the tub from the pipes, and you didn’t respond. I was afraid it was a sewage backup problem, which would be bad.
I texted you at 5:16 on the same day (June 29th), again at 5:37 PM and tried to call you no less than 5 times. You did not answer any of my calls.
You responded at 6:16 PM on June 29th to tell me that the plumber thought the sewer line might need to be cleaned out and that he was coming back. I asked you when he’d be here. You said that you weren’t sure, that he had to pick up a larger router and then he’d call you. I asked you to keep me posted, and offered to call him directly if you’d provide his number.
You responded at 6:34 PM to say that the city sewer line was backed up and that might have something to do with it. I told you I still wanted to plumber to come, because at that point you had confirmed my fears that the problem might be sewage, which would render my apartment unusable, as I’d be afraid to use any of the running water for fear there was sewage backup in the pipes.
You said the plumber was coming and that I should use the drains as little as possible. This puts me after 6:30 PM on Saturday with no way to run water, use the toilet, etc. We had several more exchanges. I told you I had church and work the next day and that I’d need the bathroom to get ready, and that I should be able to use the toilet when I needed to. I asked for an update at 7:30 via text, and called you several more times with no answer.By 8:47 you still hadn’t responded, so I texted you to ask for the plumber’s phone number.
You responded at 9:08 that you’d called the plumber and talked to him 5 times or more (this is all without you coming to assess the situation or asking me for more information via text or telephone) you said that the plumber would try to be out that night but if not it would be first thing the next morning. I asked you to call me so I could tell you my schedule for the next day. You didn’t. I told you I was busy all day the next day but that you had permission to let the plumber in if I wasn’t there the next day.
I then went out and bought heavy duty Liquid Plumber and poured a bottle down the toilet and one down the bathtub drain. About two hours later, they both drained and the toilet flushed normally again.
Because of your lack of response, and the fact that I didn’t hear from you “first thing in the morning,” I believed that this would be much like the AC tech situation from June, and that no plumber was coming. I still felt that a plumber should double check to make sure there was no sewage back up in the pipes, but I chose not to try anymore to get help from you.
At 11:25 AM the next day (June 30), you texted to tell me the plumber was outside and asked if I was home. Even though I had told you twice by text and twice via voicemail that I would not be home all day Sunday, and that you had my permission to let the plumber in. I told you that and that your lack of communication was frustrating. If you had checked with me Saturday night, early Sunday morning, or communicated with me at all I would have told you about the Liquid Plumber and how I got the bathroom to drain. You didn’t. You just let the plumber show up late morning and then texted me at 2:47 on the 30th of June saying “Elizabeth this is crazy, you made it sound like a disaster area and the plumber check the drain for over and hour and couldn’t find anything wrong, or that even concerned him.”
I reiterated the entire exchange so far and expressed relief that the plumber didn’t find anything wrong. The situation, on Saturday night, was an emergency, even though I didn’t say that word (emergency) but you failed to help me, so I helped myself.
You then said “I told you yesterday, based on what you described that I first wanted to try a good drain cleaner. It certainly wasn’t an emergency and you need to pay $50 towards his bill which will probably be $150 because it was a weekend service call.”
I have a record of the text messages we exchanged after that, but I made it clear that I wasn’t going to pay $50 when your lack of communication and the fact that you DIDN’T come try a drain cleaner resulted in your getting the plumber over here. There WAS something wrong, and it appeared that I fixed it. I didn’t know for sure, since I’m not a plumber, nor am I landlord. If you had a problem calling the plumber you should have come over here to assess the problem yourself. And you should have brought the drain cleaner over Saturday night.
Regardless, we had no further contact until July 9th, after I paid my rent and notified you that I would not be extending my lease another year. I never got any confirmation from you that you received that letter, but I’ve attached it to this email for your reference.
July 9th at 9:01 PM I texted you to said that the AC was failing to blow any cool air. I texted you again the next morning at 7:27 AM that the temperature was a bit cooler, but that was probably because it was early morning and that the AC should still be checked – that only one vent was blowing.
i should mention at this time that when the plumbing problem occurred I went down into the basement. The ductwork is pinned up to the ceiling and  compressed, but the basement itself is very cool as the air conditioning is blowing in the basement, not in my apartment.
Like this, borrowed from
Like this, borrowed from
You responded at 4:28 on July 10th (nine hours later) that the AC tech was trying to get by here today and that he’d let you know when he finished his last appointment if he’d be by that night or the next morning. I told you I’d be here all night but had to leave at 7 the next morning, but did not see a need for the tech to come in.I told you what I saw in the basement. July 10th’s high temperature was 91 degrees.
I got home at 2:16 on July 11 and texted you to ask for status.
You responded at 4:36 PM that “I just told him 15 minutes ago when he gets there to call me.”
I thanked you, and told you I’d like for him to come in and identify the vents that weren’t working and let you know I was at home.
I texed you at 6:22 PM to ask for status again. I told you the temperature inside the apartment was 82 degrees with the thermostat set to 66 degrees. The high temperature on July 11 was also 91 degrees.
I texted you at 8:27 PM July 11th telling you that you have known about this problem for some time now and that the only reason I was able to be in the apartment was because of the fans. Since the bedroom ceiling fan has never worked since I moved in, I can’t sleep in the bedroom.
As of now (1:02PM) on July 11th, I still haven’t heard from you. It’s cooler today, but that doesn’t mean that the problem has fixed itself. When it gets hot again the problem will be just that, a problem, again.
Since this has been an outstanding problem this year (2013) since June 13th, it has been between 91 and 96 degrees in the hottest part of the day. That means that since June 13th I haven’t had reasonably functioning AC for almost 1 month. I realize this is an old house with high ceilings and very, very old windows and that even the best AC might not cool this house the way an energy efficient place would. That’s a sacrifice we make for living in these beautiful old homes. HOWEVER, of all the vents in this entire apartment, only one blows air at a rate more than a trickle, and right now,even with the thermostat on 66, it’s not blowing cold air. The compressor outside doesn’t function like the other compressor.
If this isn’t resolved by the end of the day today, we will have to discuss the deduction of a significant part of August rent. It is the law that you provide a habitable living space, and when temperatures inside an apartment reach in the eighties WITH “central AC” that does not constitute habitable. Again, today is nice, but the last month has been pretty miserable.
I will be out of your hair September 1. Trust me when I tell you, though, that your new tenant will want the vents to function. It’s in your best interest to fix this now.

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