Tenants across OKC facing the deep freeze with no heat

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Anxiety over the incoming freeze on Thursday is even greater for families without heat. KFOR got a number of calls and emails this week from tenants saying their heating is broken and their landlords are neglecting to fix it quickly enough.

“Well, it just seems impossible that landlords would be providing housing without essential services such as heat, which should be on the minds of most people right now with the winter weather that’s coming in overnight and into tomorrow morning with the wind chills that are going to be below zero,” said attorney Ryan Owens with The Bethany Law Center. “It boggles the mind that anyone would expect to be paid rent when they are offering housing that doesn’t even meet the bare minimum requirements of providing an essential service such as heat.”

But all over Oklahoma City right now, tenants are living without heat as the massive cold front comes through the state.

It’s a depressing situation for Tanya Sanders and her three kids at Woodward Place Apartments, located at 3400 SW 44th St.

“I feel bad, terrible,” she said. “I’m worried because who knows if we’ll wake up the next day, not to say it like that, but that’s how I’m feeling. It’s too cold in this apartment. I just want it to be warm and safe.”

At The MacArthur Apartments at 5745 NW 19th St., Jacquline Norman is using her open oven to heat the place for herself and her 5-year-old son.

“When I get off from work, basically what I do is put it on 350 on bake, just open it up and just let it heat up this area,” she explained. “I’m not feeling good at all.”

As for Starrla Davidson, she said after putting in a work order on Dec. 17 at Hillcrest Residence Apartments at 1402 SW 59th St., the complex management gave her two small space heaters.

“It’s not going to be warm enough,” she complained. “I’m worried about it. I’m scared about it. There’s no way it will be warm enough once it gets that cold. This place is old anyway and can be drafty.”

The City of Oklahoma City is urging tenants with no heat to contact their Action Center so they can send out an inspector, which will meet with the landlord and enforce any ordinances that are being broken.

“The only way we’ll know is if they contact us,” encouraged Action Center Manager Shameka Lee said of the tenants. “If they don’t contact us, we have no idea. So, they have to give us a call. They have to sound the alarm in order for us to get them help.”

She shared that the Action Center can be reached by phone call Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (405) 297-2535. They can also be reached by text at (405) 252-1053 and email at action.center@okc.gov. Another option is to submit a service request through their OKC Connect app.

Attorney Ryan Owens is pointing these tenants to Oklahoma’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (please hyperlink to this https://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=71770), which states that once a tenant gives written notice to their landlord that there’s no heat, they don’t have to pay rent for the days that the heating is broken. 

“What they would want to do is break down their rent into how much am I paying each day to live in the apartment and so whatever that daily rate is, whatever that works out to be, is what you’re deducting from your rent,” he said.

The act also states that after the written notice, the tenant can deduct the cost of any space heaters they buy from their rent. 

“So, let’s say you go to Big Lots or Walmart, and you get two or three space heaters to keep your home warm, then you can deduct that from the rent,” Owens explained.

If you don’t have heat, visit the City of OKC Action Center website to file a service request: https://www.okc.gov/residents/action-center