Are Landlords Required to Provide Air Conditioning Units to Renters in California?

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If a unit is habitable, does the landlord have to provide working air conditioning (AC)? As of now, air conditioning is not required for a property to be considered habitable; however, proposed legislation in 2022 could change that rule. This place is getting unbearably hot, and heat-related illnesses, deaths, and hospitalizations are commonplace in California during the summer.

In 2017, 14 people died in San Francisco’s heat wave due to heat stroke, and many had symptoms at home. Poor industrialized neighborhoods are most affected by this socioeconomic inequality. Many homes in San Francisco and Northern California lack air conditioning, making it dangerous during heat waves. Climate change is causing more frequent heat waves, raising questions about whether California’s building code considers houses without AC as uninhabitable when people die from heat stroke.

Can I Withhold Rent for Broken AC in California?

In California, tenants cannot withhold rent unless the property’s condition violates the general warranty of habitability, and the landlord has failed to make repairs within a reasonable time. Minor repairs do not allow for rent withholding, but tenants may have other options for seeking relief.

How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix the Air Conditioning in California?

In California, landlords are not obligated to provide air conditioning to tenants. If it is included in the lease, the landlord is responsible for repairing the unit if it breaks down. The landlord must fix the air conditioning within 30 days of being notified of the issue.

Is Air Conditioning Required in California Rentals?

In California, air conditioning is not legally required for rental units to comply with habitability laws. However, proper ventilation is required, such as a fan, vents, or a window. Landlords often include air conditioning to attract tenants and if it is provided, they are responsible for maintaining it. It is important for tenants to ensure their lease includes fair terms for repairs or replacement of the AC unit. If there are any issues, HVAC technicians can be contacted for assistance.

Air Conditioning and Your Residential Rental Unit

Residential tenants have a right to a unit that is fit for human habitation. An acceptable level of safety, utility, and sanitation must be maintained in a residential rental unit. Landlords must ensure that their properties are safe and habitable for their tenants. In order to receive this benefit, all of the following must be present and operational:

  • Protection from the elements, such as operable windows or doors
  • A well-functioning plumbing system;
  • Facilities for generating gas;
  • Running water that is both hot and cold, as well as a sewer disposal system
  • Facilities for heating
  • Regulated wiring and access to electricity
  • Pest- and vermin-free property with good hygienic conditions;
  • Maintain orderly disposal and recycling facilities.
  • Surfaces used for work, such as stairways or railings
  • In addition, a mailbox for a residential address. [Civil Code 1941 of the State of California .1]
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According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, if any of these features stop working or become faulty, the landlord is required to make repairs to the property. Air conditioning, on the other hand, does not appear on this list. Central air conditioning units must be repaired within thirty days of a notice being served when they stop working. This is because it is considered an inconvenience.

Can I Pay Less Rent if Landlord Doesn’t Fix Things?

Withholding rent due to the landlord’s failure to make repairs is not a legal right of tenants. Doing so could lead to the landlord initiating possession proceedings against the tenant, putting them at risk of eviction.

Fix Your Air Conditioning

There are a few things to keep in mind when a tenant attempts to fix their own air conditioner. Tenants of rental properties are not expected to perform major repairs to major components of the rental property. Plumbing and electrical issues should be fixed by the landlord; if a tenant decides to fix something themselves, the cost must be less than one month’s rent, and the tenant can deduct the cost from their rent. These terms can only be met if the landlord agrees.

Landlords who insist on fixing an inconvenience themselves rather than allow the tenant to do so have 30 days in which to do so. When the tenant damages or breaks the unit, the landlord is not responsible for the repairs.

Gossip in Congress

Despite the fact that air conditioning is not currently mandated, new legislation could change that. Improved insulation, air sealing, increased shade, cool roofs, fans, heat pumps, and air conditioning are all included in Assembly Bill (AB) 2597. For the purposes of changing the law, this bill will require landlords to provide proper air conditioning for a property that is considered habitable to have safe indoor temperatures. Safe maximum indoor temperatures will have to be established as a mandate by the Department of Housing and Community Development. California’s future homes will be forever altered by this.