As a landlord, you’re expected to handle most types of maintenance and repairs for your rental properties. Requirements may differ by area. How does landlord responsibility relate to air conditioning in rentals? Are you responsible for taking care of a broken HVAC unit?
Landlord Responsibility: How Does it Work?
As a landlord, you want your tenants to remain happy and comfortable. If not, they’ll likely move out at the end of the lease term. Even if you aren’t legally required to provide a working air conditioner, doing so can still benefit your business.
The Legal Requirements
In most states, a landlord isn’t required to provide air conditioning to tenants unless they agreed to do so in the lease contract. Air conditioning in rentals is an amenity in areas where heat levels aren’t life-threatening. Some states do have laws specific to air conditioning in rentals, which we’ll get into later in the article.
Part of a landlord’s responsibility is to provide what’s known as an “implied warranty of habitability.” This means when you list a rental property, you’re guaranteeing the property meets the basic standards for safe living. In doing this, you’re also agreeing that you will do everything necessary to maintain that standard of living throughout the duration of the tenant’s stay.
Regional Rules: Do the Laws Differ by State?
The United States is a massive country with a wide range of climate zones. There are areas in which a working air conditioner is essentially needed to survive. There are other areas where air conditioners are optional amenities. Some states have laws specific to how landlords must manage air conditioning in rentals.
The southern part of the state of Nevada experiences sweltering temperatures each summer. Temperatures are regularly over 110 degrees Fahrenheit throughout July and August. Such high temperatures can be dangerous or even life threatening, which is why the state government considers air conditioning an essential service.
Nevada residents must notify landlords of a problem with the HVAC unit in writing. From there, the landlord has 48 hours to repair the unit.
Arizona, Nevada’s neighbor to the south, naturally experiences similar high temperatures. Sensitive individuals die each year due to heat stroke. Therefore, in Arizona, air conditioning is considered essential. If you rent out properties in the state, you must ensure each comes with a working HVAC unit.
There are also regional laws that are specific to the temperature levels inside a unit. In the capital city of Phoenix, air conditioning units in rentals can’t exceed 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Rentals that use evaporative units mustn’t exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although the state of Texas doesn’t require landlords to install or maintain air conditioners, the city of Dallas does. The city requires that landlords provide cooling to tenants between April and November of each year. The cooling requirements state that the indoor air temperature must be at least 20 degrees cooler than the air outside.
An Offered Amenity: Is it Your Responsibility?
If you advertise your rental unit as featuring an air conditioner, the expectation is that you will be the one maintaining it. Many states have laws to back up this concept. In some states, such as Oregon, your tenants will even be able to legally withhold their rent payments until you make the needed repairs.
In states without specific laws relating to landlord responsibility and HVAC units, you may be able to create a lease agreement that absolves you of any responsibility over HVAC repairs. If you plan on doing this, make sure you have your attorney look over the lease agreement. You’ll also want to ensure your prospective tenants are aware they will be responsible for maintaining and repairing the HVAC system during their stay.
For more information on landlord duties and responsibilities, please check out our blog.