Am I responsible for replacing an air conditioning unit in the commercial building that I rent?

UPDATED: May 29, 2012

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Am I responsible for replacing an air conditioning unit in the commercial building that I rent?

The air conditioning unit went completely out. My contract states that I am responsible for routine maintenance but the owner says I am responsible for the cost of fixing/replacing the unit. I don’t agree. What are my rights?

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Typically, replacing a broken air conditioning unit would not be considered "routine maintenance"; however, if it was the case that the reason it broke is that you failed to perform routine maintenance (for example--and since I don't known anything about A/C, please forgive me if this is factually incorrect or impossible--say that part of routine maintenance is changing or cleaning filters; you failed to this; your failure to change or clean the filters caused a build up of particulate matter which caused the break down), then you could be held liable for the replacement cost.

Other than as above, you would seem to not be responsible for the replacement cost unless you, a family member, a pet, or a guest affirmatively did something causing the damage, like hitting the A/C unit or pouring liquid into it: tenants are responsible when their deliberate or negligent acts damages the landlord's property.

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