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Dallas Code Compliance holding landlords accountable for broken A/Cs in brutal heat

Dallas Code Compliance officers respond to about a hundred 3-1-1 calls weekly about broken A/C units landlords are slow to fix despite brutal temperatures.
Credit: Matt McNew

DALLAS — This summer, Dallas Code Compliance has been hard at work making sure apartment tenants aren’t suffering in the unbearable Texas Heat.

When the department’s Multi-Tenant and Single-Family Rental Division shows up at an apartment complex, it normally means relief is on the way.

“We're not here to play, we're here to enforce the ordinance. And this is our job,” said Amy Del Toro, a Code Compliance supervisor.

That job is to make sure landlords are meeting minimum housing standards. In brutal three-digit temperatures, that means having air conditioners that work.

“We have had, fortunately, some older, elderly, small children that are in these units with no AC,” Del Toro said.

Del Toro and Code Compliance have been doing inspections all summer.

“Usually when there’s no A/C, we'll feel it right away,” Del Toro said. “85 and above, then that would be considered a life hazard.”

They check the vents, thermostat and take readings from each room.

The complex they were at Tuesday is in good standing, but many others haven’t been. This summer, 3-1-1 complaints about A/C issues are averaging upwards of 100 calls per week. When inspections confirmed those calls as violations - Code Compliance issues a citation.

“The fine is usually $650 per violation per day,” Del Toro said.

If that doesn’t force action – it’s escalated to litigation.

“It is frustrating at times too when we do have property owners that don't want to comply,” Del Toro said. “Then the city attorneys do their magic.”

Del Toro says her division will do what it takes to get the job done.

The City of Dallas says that, if reporting A/C issues to your landlord or property manager doesn't work, or if their staff is slow to respond, you can dial 3-1-1 or go online to log a complaint.

The Dallas Code Office has 24 hours to respond to air conditioning complaints because they are considered a life and safety priority during extreme temperatures.

RELATED: Some Dallas renters have been living in sweltering apartments without A/C for weeks

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