Homeowner's/Renter's Rights: Broken Heaters And Who Can Fix Them

No Heat, No Fix

Even though we're expecting a warm-up, several days of cold temperatures with a broken heater is not the combination you want in your house.

That's unfortunately the reality for a Burlington family.  Susan Teachey says her downstairs heater has been broken for more than two weeks.

"I feel like we're just going in circles," she says.

Several phone calls and several space heaters later, her home warranty company isn't coming in with a quick fix.

"It says here 'We consider it a privilege to have you as a customer,' Teachey reads from a company document.  'We strive to make your life easier and we're here for you to request service 24/7.' So I've requested service, I just want it fixed." 

Susan adds it's most problematic because she has two young daughters.  The space heaters they have to put in to warm the downstairs isn't a good solution.

"I'm handling it but it's not been easy," she says. "I'm glad we don't have a burst pipe, I'm glad we at least have heat upstairs for sleeping 6:50 but it's just been a hassle." 

Susan's gripe with the home warranty company is not uncommon.  

The Better Business Bureau says these types of companies get a lot of complaints and they sometimes don't cover what you think they might.

"They want to exercise the warranty and now they're being told they can't do it because of some type of pre-existing condition or they somehow didn't take care of their appliance properly," says Kevin Hinterberger, President and CEO of Greensboro's Better Business Bureau.

He recommends always having someone inspect your appliances for damage you could be held responsible for before signing a warranty contract. He also recommends asking the comopany what they deem to be appropriate repairs to ensure you're getting the fix you want.

"Folks really need to make sure they know what they're getting into. Read the fine print, ask questions and if you have any doubt, don't do it."

As for Susan's situation, WFMY News 2 reached out to her home warranty company, HSA Home Warranty.

A spokesperson for HSA sent us this statement Friday evening after we talked to Susan Friday morning:

At HSA, we take great pride in providing quality service and valuable protection to our customers. We sincerely apologize for the delay Ms. Teachey has experienced.

Ms.Teachey placed a claim with us approximately two weeks ago on Jan. 4 for her downstairs heating unit. Her repair required us to order a part, which was originally scheduled to arrive earlier this week. Unfortunately, it was delayed due to extreme weather conditions. As a comfort measure, earlier this week we offered to reimburse Ms. Teachey for the purchase of space heaters needed for her downstairs area. 

We've confirmed that the part is currently en route, and will work with Ms. Teachey to ensure that it is installed as soon as it arrives. Despite current weather conditions in the area, our contractor is remaining onsite in the event the package is delivered this evening. If it does, he has agreed to install the part tomorrow, pending confirmation with the homeowner. 

We have talked with Ms. Teachey again this afternoon, and will continue to stay in touch with her until her repair is complete. 

Each customer's situation is unique, and we do our absolute best to resolve those matters as quickly as possible. If we fail to meet these expectations, we work to do the right thing and ensure the situation is properly resolved.

There are two ways customers can request service – by calling us or by going online to our website. In either case, service requests can be placed 24/7. Our goal is to ensure service requests are assigned to a local contractor right away; this almost always happens within 15 minutes or less.

If you rent a home or apartment and your heater is broken, keep in mind there are steps you should take to try and ensure your landlord fixes it in a timely manner.

If you have a complaint, make sure you bring it to the landlord in writing.  

If the issue is not fixed in a reasonable amount of time, file a formal complaint with code enforcement.  Keep in mind, depending on your city, investigators can step in
or suggest you take your case to court.  

A magistrate can order the landlord to fix the issue under state law or you can negotiate getting out of your lease.

Under North Carolina state law, heating is a necessity for tenants.

© 2018 WFMY-TV


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