CLEVELAND – The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland reported that problems between landlords and tenants increase as more tenants struggle with heating issues as we near the official start of the winter season on December 21st.
A growing number of tenants such as Cindy Kindzi and Betty Brown of Cleveland are turning to News 5 for help and reporting that they have had no heating or hot water for several weeks.
Brown told News 5 that her landlord has been promising to fix a broken stove and hot water tank since early November after the gas company “red” the heating system as unsafe.
She said she paid her rent on her rental home in Cleveland, but she had to use space heaters and boil water to keep her three young children warm and clean.
“I have to boil three pots just to wash my kids for school,” Brown said.
“Then I boil water just so we can wash our hands so we can use the toilet.”
“I didn’t really think that some would take advantage of me and my three children.”
“It’s too cold, it will soon snow really hard and it will freeze in here. I have six space heaters that are in operation. “
The same goes for Kindzi, who wants to take care of her nine-month-old granddaughter. Kindzi said the heating in her Cleveland apartment had been off for several weeks due to a serious gas leak.
“First it was leaking and then Dominion came and tried to turn it on and they said no, there is a big leak,” Kindzi said.
“You’d think the owner or management would know something like this before accepting my first month’s rent and deposit.”
“I ran out of the house immediately, there was gasoline in the hallway, I didn’t even make it into my house, I was so scared.”
“And I haven’t heard from the contractor, the property manager, or the owner.”
“I’m supposed to be in this cold house, me and my grandchild? I mean, I don’t know what to do, pay my rent and still sit in the cold? “
Attorney Jennifer Sheehe of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland told News 5 that tenants should not hold rent themselves in an attempt to force stove repairs by the owner or landlord.
Sheehe said renters should seek legal counsel or specialists from the Cleveland Housing Court to guide them through the process of contacting their landlord and setting up an escrow account with the court if a landlord doesn’t start repairs on time.
“You can’t turn off the heater just because someone hasn’t paid the rent, you have to go through the right process,” Sheehe said.
“Inform the landlord, we always recommend in writing that there is a problem with the stove. And then they have to give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix it.
“In winter a few days are probably useful if the landlord doesn’t take any steps to fix it and can then deposit the rent with the court.”
“If you are in Cuyahoga County or any other county instead of Cleveland, call your building department or health department, depending on the problem, so they can come and report the violations.”
News 5 contacted both landlords involved in this story. We haven’t named the landlords yet to give them a week to carry out heating repairs on both kidney systems. News 5 will follow up both cases.