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Senate Bill Would Make Property Owners Provide Heating Units

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RALEIGH — It seems strange that in an area overrun with computer companies, luxury subdivisions and expensive cars that so many people are forced to live in homes that do not have heat.

When you have temperatures dipping down into the teens, it is hard to imagine people living in our city and state without heat, but they do. TheState Senatehas approved a bill aimed at bringing a little warmth to everyone.

Lonnie and Brenda Henderson's apartment in Raleigh does not have heat.

"It's been right cool in the house this week, but we managed to wrap up and stay warm," said Lonnie Henderson.

They use portable electric heaters to stay warm. There is a gas system in the home, but it needs to be relocated and turned on. Henderson says the landlord has refused to fix it.

"I wish they would make them fix it like it's supposed to be, especially when they charge the rent so high," said Henderson.

"This really does not apply to rental property owners. It really is slum lords," saidState Senator Brad Miller.

Miller is co-sponsoring a bill which would require landlords in cities with at least 200,000 people to supply heat in one room of the rental property.

"It's pretty painful to be inside in your home in what should be your sanctum and to be so unprotected," said Miller.

"I don't think it's good for nothing," said rental property owner H.H. House.

House does not agree with the bill. He owns about 275 rental properties in the state which have heat. He says the law would force rents up and tenants out.

"If he does anything, he's going to raise the rent. Some more people are going to be homeless, and he's going to say 'I am not going to do it. I don't need the money, the heck with it,'" said House.

Interestingly, the bill would only apply to the state's biggest cities with one exception.

All of them already have local ordinances requiring heat in rental properties.Raleighis the only city without such a law.

The next step for the bill is going to the fullHousefor a vote.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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