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Air Conditioning: The Guide to Landlord & Tenant Rights & Responsibilities

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Air conditioning is often a point of contention between renters and property managers, and with the hottest months of the year nearly here, we’re heading into prime time for A/C-related disagreements to arise.  So what rights and responsibilities do renters have when it comes to air conditioning?  Do property managers have responsibilities here?  Here’s our quick guide to how to handle the air conditioning issue:

Are you required to provide air conditioning to renters?

The short answer is: maybe!  It depends on where the property is.  In general, air conditioning is not on any list of things that landlords are legally required to provide, and is not considered a necessary condition for habitability.  However, some states do have laws specifically requiring the provision of functioning air conditioning to renters, and some renters may have medical conditions that entitle them to a working air conditioning unit even if you don’t need to have one for other residents.  Check the laws in your states to determine for sure whether you need to provide A/C.

Consider mentioning air conditioning in the lease.

If you’re not legally required to provide working air conditioning, you may want to consider specifying the exact situation and your policies in the lease.  (This is a good idea for any topic that may result in a disagreement between you or your company and residents.)  Think about laying out clearly whether air conditioning is provided and what will happen if it breaks.  That way, everything’s clear up front and there’s less room for disagreement if things stop working.

Document everything.

As with any dispute or potential dispute between you and a resident, you’ll want to have documentation so that you have clear evidence and can protect yourself in the event of legal action.  Keep records of all communications between you or your staff and residents on air-conditioning issues and document all steps you take to repair broken equipment.

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