Apartment Air Conditioning Laws

By PropertyClub Team
May 11th 2024
While all landlords are legally required to maintain a habitable environment for their tenants, each state has a different definition of what that means. In hotter areas, air conditioning is considered a necessity, much like heat and hot water. 

In cooler parts of the country, air conditioning is considered a luxury amenity, and therefore landlords are not required to provide it. Here is a look at the air conditioning laws and how they vary from state to state.

hash-markTable of Contents

Does a Landlord Have to Provide Air Conditioning?
How Long Can a Landlord Leave You Without Air Conditioning?
Can I Break My Lease if AC Does Not Work?
What States Require Air Conditioning?
Is No Air Conditioning Considered an Emergency?

hash-markDoes a Landlord Have to Provide Air Conditioning?

It depends on the state. In most places, the landlord is not required to provide air conditioning by law. Many states classify air conditioning as an amenity and not a right. It may be used to attract potential tenants but is not required by law.

Landlords are required to maintain an environment that is habitable for their tenants, meaning the unit is safe and features all the basic requirements residents need to live comfortably. But this definition can change depending on the environment.

For instance, in New York City, landlords are required to provide heat and hot water during the winter NYC heating season. But air conditioning is typically not required because the heat rarely gets so intense that it becomes a safety hazard. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, NYC air conditioning laws require landlords in rent controlled buildings to maintain AC units that were installed at the time tenants moved in. 

In other states like Arizona, where it consistently reaches over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime, A/C is required by law. So, the exact rules vary depending on the climate of the state.

hash-markHow Long Can a Landlord Leave You Without Air Conditioning?

There is little you can do to force your landlord to provide A/C in states where air conditioning is not required. However, you can always go out and purchase a window unit if your building allows it (although you may need to seek permission first).

In states where air conditioning is mandatory, landlords are required to replace a broken A/C unit within a reasonable amount of time. Some states define what reasonable is (typically within 14 days), while others leave it up for interpretation. For instance, in Arizona, the landlord only has up to 5 calendar days to fix the A/C. But in California, a landlord has up to 30 days.

hash-markCan I Break My Lease if AC Does Not Work?

In states where it is required by law, you can break the lease if the AC is not working. This is because under the tenant-landlord laws of those states, a working A/C is considered essential to maintaining habitable conditions within the building. Therefore, if the A/C is no longer working, they are violating the terms of the lease, which gives you the right to find new housing.

But this should always be the last resort. First, you must notify the landlord multiple times and wait the appropriate amount of time required by law. Breaking a lease can have serious consequences, including legal action. So, it’s important to know the local laws and be sure that you are within your rights before doing anything drastic.

hash-markWhat States Require Air Conditioning?

The following states have laws that require landlords to provide A/C to their tenants:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia

There are also a few states where there are loopholes. For instance, in Indiana, landlords are only required to provide heat and A/C if it was already provided in the unit when the tenant first signed the lease. In Wisconsin, landlords are required to tell their tenants that heat and A/C are not provided. But the tenant is free to decide whether or not they still want to rent the unit.

hash-markIs No Air Conditioning Considered an Emergency? 

In most cases, no air conditioning is not considered an emergency unless the outside temperature is above a certain temperature. If it’s above 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the AC breaks, most states that require A/C would classify a broken unit as an emergency. 

If this happens, you should contact your landlord immediately and let them know about the problem. They may provide a temporary solution such as a fan or portable A/C unit until repairs can be made. But if nothing is done to remedy the situation in an expedient manner, this would be considered a breach of their responsibilities as a landlord.