All rental units in the county will be required to provide air conditioning under the terms of a bill passed unanimously yesterday by the County Council.

Bill 24-19, Landlord – Tenant Relations – Obligations of Landlord – Air Conditioning “requires that individual air conditioning units, or a central air conditioning system, be maintained in good working condition to provide an inside temperature of 80 degrees or less from June 1 through Sept. 30 each year,” according to a press release.

“Air conditioning has become a life or death issue,” said Council Vice President Tom Hucker (D-District 5), the bill’s lead sponsor, in remarks prior to the vote.

“This didn’t come from a manual of recommended policy,” Hucker continued. “This came from the real-life experiences of tenants and housing inspectors and others that had approached us because they were in danger.”

In 2018, approximately 800 cases of heat-related illnesses were reported in the county from May 22 through Sept. 17, according to the release. There are about 300,000 renters in Montgomery County.

If a landlord fails to comply with the law, tenants can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and the landlord could be fined up to $500.

The bill was introduced in July 2019 and a public hearing held in September. Councilmembers Will Jawando, Gabe Albornoz, Hans Riemer (all D-At Large) and Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) cosponsored the legislation.

As amended, the law exempts single-family homes and certain historic properties, and tenants may opt out of the requirement under certain circumstances.

Photo from www.yourbestdigs.com

Mike Diegel