Muskogee Judge Rules Residents Without Heat Don't Owe Overdue Rent
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - Residents of the Woods Apartments in Muskogee have been left without heat all winter. The apartment complex offered portable heaters to the residents, but some residents refused to continue paying rent without working heat.
The managing company of the apartment complex, Trinity Multi-Family, sued the residents for both possession of the apartments and for rent.
The case was heard by Judge Weldon Stout.
"It's a dilemma for all," said Judge Stout. "If there's no rent coming in, how do you replace the heat and air units. On the other hand, if you don't have heat, how do you pay rent?"
Judge Stout says the landlord didn't meet the statutory requirement to provide heat, which is why he ruled that nearly $2,000 in back rent didn't need to be paid.
He also ruled that the landlord could take possession of the apartment.
"You can't complain about a place and just live there indefinitely for free," explained Judge Stout. "By the same token, if you're a landlord, you want them to pay rent, you must meet the statutory requirements."
When asked what you should do if you're having a major problem with your landlord, Judge Stout said a resident should "communicate with the landlord about what the landlord believes they can do to solve the problem and how long that will take."