The summer heat has finally arrived! And with it comes special dangers for a senior who may not have air conditioning in her apartment. Seniors without air conditioning who reside on the upper floors of older buildings are most vulnerable. Check for the latest posted Los Angeles County heat alert and then consider the following resources to help us tenants stay cool and healthy.
A recent heat warning spelled out the heatwave danger especially to seniors:
…EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM FRIDAY TO 9 PM PDT SATURDAY.. HIGH TEMPERATURES…Record heat likely. Increased potential for serious heat-related illnesses, especially for the young and elderly, those performing outdoor activities, as well as those without access to air conditioning.
The best remedy for the senior facing a long, hot summer is air conditioning. But a landlord can deny any tenant a window air conditioner and even refuse to let a tenant install her own appliance.* Why? No provision of the state’s housing code or our local ordinance requires the landlord to allow it.
Some landlords do not want to pay for the appliance; others balk at having to pay for the electricity to run it. Finally, some landlords simply don’t want to see an air conditioner spoil the curb appeal of the property.
Resources for Tenants
The city may not promote it, but there are a couple of places that a senior can turn for help with air conditioning.
First contact the city’s ‘home handyworker’ program provider, Michael Baker Inc. This federally-funded program makes home improvements (bathroom guard rails, flooring improvements, etc) to multifamily units for low-income senior and disabled residents. View the flyer for program information (find it in Farsi-language too). The program is budgeted at about $100k and the budget resets at the beginning of the fiscal year every July.
(Last year we inquired for a tenant and was told that they could only replace an existing unit. Hogwash. If contractor Michael Baker Co. says no to a needy senior, then ask why their program can relieve some landlords of their obligation to perform basic maintenance yet can’t help a senior stay cool. Let me know what you find out.)
Next, try Southern California Edison’s Energy Savings Assistance Program. For income-qualified customers, we’ll provide free appliances* and installation of energy-efficient refrigerators, air conditioners and more,” the program says. Many senior households will qualify, either by receiving some form of government assistance or by coming under the household income threshold of $32,920 for 1-2 people.
Third, there are community organizations that may extend a hand to needy seniors. Renters Alliance was in touch with an organization a couple of years ago and had a new air conditioner ready for installation for a senior. If you need an air conditioner we can get back in touch.
And finally, call our community services division at City Hall at 310-288-2220. Tell them you need an air conditioner now! And let Renters Alliance know what they say.
Beverly Hills has never excelled at communication. But it’s trying to up the game. The Office of Emergency Management is generally very responsive and does a better job than most city offices (Community Services we are talking about you!) of getting the word out. Vist Emergency Management’s Beat the Heat page for more information on local cooling centers and other tips to keep heat-related symptoms at bay.
Get the Word Out
Please spread the word to your neighbors as we are only at the beginning of the hot season and there is no reason a senior, especially a low-income senior, should have to sit it out in a hot apartment. After all, how many landlords go without air conditioning? Few to none. If you know of a senior who has been denied air conditioning, please contact Renters Alliance.
* Be advised that if you get permission to install your own window air conditioner, the landlord can lay claim to it as ‘appurtenant’ to the property. Once it’s affixed to the window it is the landlord’s property.