TOLEDO, Ohio — As Toledo deals with impending subfreezing temperatures and accumulating snow, many are bundling up or staying home. But some don't have the luxury of a warm home.
Michael Degler lives in the Warren Sherman neighborhood of central Toledo. He woke up one day in November in his apartment in the 2000 block of Warren Street and noticed his thermostat wasn't working and was reading in the low 50s.
"Nothing [in terms of heat] was coming, I was like 'what's going on?'" Degler said.
One day turned into one week, then one month. As of Tuesday night, Degler has gone more than two months without working heat. He has spent that time attempting to have his landlords fix the issue but to no avail.
"How can you even sleep at night knowing that I don't have heat and that I have to use space heaters?" Degler said.
At best, the space heaters get the apartment into the low 60s, Degler said.
He said a repairman figured out a broken valve in his apartment was the problem, and his landlords were given a quote for $1500 and promised to fix the issue. But they have yet to go through with the repairs, Degler said.
"You pay rent, so you expect to have hot and cold water and heat. And without heat it's just horrible," he said.
He's been able to adapt but worries for his two cats. He's also concerned that if the power goes out, the dropping temperatures could cause frozen, and eventually, burst pipes, another issue he fears wouldn't be fixed.
"They just keep making promises after promises, which they're not keeping," Degler said. "They're just saying stuff to keep us tenants in the building."
Degler has lived in the building, which is unnamed, since 2018. He said the current landlords, Eric and Holly Jackson, are first-time landlords and bought the property, which is the only one they own, in 2021.
Since 2021, Degler said the quality of the apartment has declined considerably.
He claims there are only two people paying rent in the building, while others who live there are homeless. He also mentioned other issues, including broken windows, nonlocking doors and holes in the walls, all of which have been unaddressed by the Jacksons.
Degler says he finally went to the Fair Housing Center for help. On Monday, Degler spoke with attorneys who advised him to put his rent payments in escrow, meaning he gives his money to a third party, such as a court, until the issues are fixed. Then, the landlords can collect the money.
"By not giving your money to the landlord, they're like 'I definitely have to do something now to get that money," Degler said.
Degler plans to escrow his first rent payment on Jan. 30 and will continue the process every month, but hopes that his landlords will eventually address the problem.
"I will continue to be in escrow until things in my apartment are fixed," Degler said.
WTOL 11 reached out to Degler's landlords using the number he provided but has received a response.