St. Louis city departments respond to heat-related deaths

2:14 AM, Jul 16, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - It looks like we are heading for another heat wave and the city of St. Louis is doing something about it. The city health department is recommending an ordinance that would make landlords install and properly maintain AC units in rental properties.

This is all in response to the deadly heat wave that has claimed 18 lives so far this year.

The recommendation is part of an extreme weather education plan put forth by the city following the heat related deaths.

"I actually think that would be a great idea," says Latanya Lewis who is sitting her porch to cool off.

If you ask Charles Aschinger who is a property manager who works for landlords, he has a different response.

"I don't believe its correct for the government to force a landlord to provide air conditioning because they do typically allow the tenant to put one in if the tenant would want one," says Aschinger.

Another reason he doesn't like the recommendation is central air is not easy to install. Especially when most rental homes and units are older structures that weren't built to withstand central air.

"It's a tenant's choice if they choose to rent a unit that may not have central air or window units," says Aschinger.

Lewis doesn't rent from Aschinger but say she's one of those tenants who is renting without AC, until this sizzler of a summer when she broke down and bought a window unit.

"Sometimes not so good, sometimes because every room is not the same temperature, my room be cold and I step out to the heat," says Lewis.

She loves the idea of cooling systems being just like heating systems, mandatory and a law.

"The past couple of days has been in the three degrees, 108 yeah, that's kind of hard," says says.

Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, who's a landlord himself, thinks of air conditioning as a necessity and not as a luxury. He says he's curious about the recommendation and wants to keep local landlords in the discussion.

"I just cant imagine that it would be a burden on the landlord to provide what I think is really a necessity," says Boyd.

Aschinger says most units do have some sort of air conditioning including his.

One property manager I talked to on the phone says they don't want to install window units because in the past they've had tenants steal them when they leave.

Right now this is just a recommendation by the City Health Department and not an ordinance.

 

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