Are landlords legally required to provide air conditioning at rental properties?

A landlord will need to research state landlord-tenant statutes and local city and county ordinances specific to the location of the rental property to determine whether air conditioning must be provided by law.

States and local jurisdictions may address the issue differently depending upon whether air conditioning is considered an essential service required by the implied warranty of habitability or an amenity provided by the landlord for the benefit of tenants at the property.

The implied warranty of habitability is a legal doctrine in most states that requires landlords to offer and maintain leased premises in a safe and sanitary condition fit for human habitation for the duration of the lease. Provision of housing in a safe and sanitary condition includes the provision of essential services defined by state statutes. A common essential service by most states’ statutes requires a landlord to supply water, hot water, and heat in reasonable amounts to provide fit and habitable housing. Only in a few states is the landlord specifically required by statute to supply air conditioning as an essential service. A requirement for air conditioning may be further addressed by local city and county ordinances. Local health and safety codes may require the landlord to supply air conditioning or similar air cooling service as a climate-related responsibility of the landlord to provide heat or cold necessary for fit living conditions.

Many landlords offer air conditioning as a rental amenity for the tenants’ benefit. The lease agreement should provide details of amenities supplied by the landlord including appliances or as permanent fixtures of the premises operating systems. This would include air conditioning provided by a central HVAC system, evaporative cooler or other cooling device such as a stand-alone air conditioning unit.

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