New Bill Would Require Air Conditioning in All Rental Units

Landlords would be required to provide and maintain working air conditioning in county rental units under the terms of a bill introduced yesterday by Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-District 5).

Bill 24-19, Landlord – Tenant Relations – Obligations of Landlord – Air Conditioning, would require individual air conditioning units, or a central air conditioning system, be maintained in good working order to provide an inside temperature of eighty degrees or less from May 1 through Sept. 30 each year, according to a press release.

In his introduction of the bill, Hucker pointed out that the temperature had been higher than 90 degrees each of the past five days, and were expected to be that high for the next six days.

“Extreme heat is a health and safety issue and we should protect our tenants from that as well,” he said, noting this bill was consistent with a recently passed bill to allow tenants to terminate a lease if the landlord doesn’t correct conditions that impact the immediate health and safety of a tenant in a tenant’s unit or in a common area within 30 days.

“Tenants deserve quiet, quality, comfortable and healthy places to live,” said Matt Losak, executive director of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance in the release. “We are grateful for Councilmember Hucker’s attention to air conditioning standards as temperatures continue to rise alongside the increasing population of renters in our county, especially senior renters. This legislation is long overdue.”

Hucker also told of a call he’d received from an 80-year-old renter who didn’t have air conditioning and froze bottles of water to put in her lap to try to stay cool.

Under the terms of the bill, if a landlord does not comply, tenants may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the landlord may face a fine of $500.

Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large) is a cosponsor of the bill, which is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing on Sept. 10.

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