Heat back on at Southfield apartment building

Posted at 6:09 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 18:09:21-05

The city of Southfield says heat and hot water is back on at one building where residents have been complaining for days.

According to the city heat is finally back on in all units at the Atrium Apartments, but now the question is: What are tenants rights, if they want to move out?

“They want to make sure that they have documented their complaints and they can show the landlord breached, not them,” says Ted Phillips, Executive Director and Attorney for United Community Housing Coalition in Detroit.

He says document everything.

“They need to be preparing as if there's going to be a lawsuit that’s going to follow," he says. "They want things like letters to the landlord complaining about these dates, times are as specific as they can. Make sure they keep a copy if they can."

"If things are documented, the landlord may say this isn’t worth pursuing, if they have to leave," he adds.

Meaning, they'll let you out of your lease and won't take the matter to court. But, he says the bottom line is if the landlord isn't making good on what was promised on paper.

So what exactly happened with the heat at Atrium Apartments? We’ve been trying to get answers since last week.

Today, we got an explanation from the building’s lawyer, who says, “Once management became aware, it immediately began work to correct the issue.”

That included furnace repairs Thursday, and fixing a frozen pipe on Sunday. The attorney says heat was never out to the entire building during the ordeal.

Also, the city of Southfield tells us heat was out to just one unit yesterday and it’s been restored today.

Meanwhile, Phillips says other things you could do if you don't have heat or hot water.

"If there's absolutely no heat they could have another avenue and that could be filing a lawsuit under the state's lockout act," he says. "They have a right to form a tenant union. They might want to consider individual or collective rent strikes."

While many of the residents are relieved the heat and hot water is working again, some of them say they still want to move out. Their biggest challenges are going to be getting out of their leases and getting their deposits back.