DES MOINES - Local 5 is on Your Side helping renters who have been dealing with heaters that aren't working right in these frigid temperatures. After checking in with the fire department, inspectors went to check it out for themselves.
It's a really bad time to have a heater that doesn't work. Just ask Allison Derks.
"We walked outside, found out that no one else in our building had heat, and we found out that for somebody on the other side of the building, a pipe had burst," said Derks, a Local 5 employee.
That was on Dec. 26. Management deemed all was back to normal, but Derks was still a little cold.
"They told me nothing was wrong, that they had the heat turned back on and that the type of furnace I had in my building wasn't builtto handle the subzero temperatures," she explained.
Eight days later, we found Derks is using three space heaters and extra covers on her bed.
Plus, there was one other thing management suggested.
"The fireplace that I have, (they told me) that's not a decoration," said Derks. "That needs to be turned on and used."
She was out of town for a few days, and when she got back it was only 54 degrees in her apartment
"So, I kept it running at 75, and that may end up costing me and I've tried turning it off, so it's definitely doing something," Derks said. "When I turned it off completely, it got really low."
Attorneys tell Local 5 the complex must provide adequate heating, or else it could violate the habitability law, and could even void her lease.
West Des Moines fire inspectors paid a visit after Local 5 told them of renters' problems. They asked too and tell us that right now everything is actually back to normal. We asked signature place management how the heat issue would get fixed.
Management declined an on-camera interview, but assured us all was taken care of .They even ran a night watch to ensure no fires happened the night after.
So, Derks called them back.
"This time it seemed a little bit more like okay, I understand that's a problem, we're going to send somebody out. So, it'll be interesting to see what they find when they get there," said Derks.
After Local 5;s visit, it went much better. And the temperature even started climbing, all the way up to 70 degrees,
"I don't want to put anyone else at risk," said Derks. "I don't want to put myself at risk, by having to use them. These space heaters make me nervous. I don't even like running them because they smell like things are burning."
Here's one other thing we learned about renters' rights. If your landlord isn't providing you with an adequate heating system, you can't be required to get renters insurance.