Is My Landlord Required to Provide Heat and Air Conditioning?

Written on May 23, 2017 by , updated on June 27, 2017

You want to be comfortable in your home, but what happens when the temperature isn’t right, or worse, the conditions are unsafe? Do you have a right to heat and air conditioning? It depends.

The laws regarding heat and air conditioning vary from state to state. In most states, landlords are required to provide adequate heat, but they usually don’t need to provide air conditioning. Let’s break this down a bit more.

Rental Units Must Be Habitable

All states have laws and regulations to ensure safe, habitable living conditions in rental housing properties. And providing heat is one of them.

In California, for instance, a functioning heat system is required for a rental unit to be considered “legally habitable,” according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The landlord is also responsible for repairs to the heating system, as long as the tenant or the tenant’s pets and guests did not create the problem.

While heat is a requirement in California, air conditioning is not. But if the landlord included an air conditioner in your unit when you moved in, the landlord is contractually obligated to ensure it works. Otherwise, they’d be in breach of contract.

The law is similar in Georgia: landlords are not legally required to provide air conditioners but are obligated to maintain A/C units they have provided.

In hotter climes such as Arizona, air conditioning is a requirement, along with heat and hot water.

Since the United States spans many different climates, the laws vary by region. Read through Landlordology’s state law summaries for tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities in your state. In some cases, large cities may have their own regulations regarding air conditioning. Visit your city’s tenant-rights webpage for specifics.

Related: Two Basic Renters’ Rights Included in Every Lease

When Heat or A/C Fails

When the heat or air conditioning (provided by the landlord) fails in your unit, the landlord must repair the problem within a reasonable amount of time. In Arizona, this is typically within two business days, as long as the failure was not caused by you or a guest in your home.

  1. Call the landlord, and if applicable, or the maintenance department noted in your rental agreement.
  2. Send the landlord a notice in writing, detailing the date the heat or A/C failed, as well as the current date.
  3. Include your unit and contact information so a repair person can set up a repair time.

If the landlord doesn’t address the issue in a timely fashion, or doesn’t respond at all, you have several options:

  1. Repair or remedy the problem yourself
  2. Temporarily move into a hotel and deduct funds from your rent payment
  3. Withhold rent
  4. Take legal action

If you stay in a hotel because your home is temporarily inhabitable, you can’t deduct the entire cost of the hotel stay. For example, if you live in Arizona and your rent is $900 per month, your daily rental rate is $30. You can only deduct from your rent $30 per night stayed in a hotel.

If you’ve waited days and your landlord has made no attempt to remedy the situation, you are legally allowed to withhold rent in some states as long as you’re current on rent payments. Save the money for a later date, as you’ll still have to pay once the problem is resolved.

Related: Who’s Responsible for Furnace and HVAC Maintenance?

Don’t Get Evicted

It’s always risky to withhold or deduct from your rent. If your landlord disagrees with your actions, they could terminate your lease and attempt to evict you. In most states, like Nevada, a landlord cannot legally evict you, raise your rent out of spite, or cut off essential services once you have filed a habitability-based complaint. This is called “retaliation,” and it’s not okay. However, if the landlord has already sent an eviction notice for another reason or has previously stated that rent will increase or that your lease will not be renewed, then such actions can still take place.

With that said, if you withheld rent wrongfully, then you will likely be responsible for the missing rent and the landlord’s legal fees to evict you.

If you are served an eviction notice that you believe is because you’ve asked for a heating or cooling system repair, you must file an answer in court stating that you are standing up for your rights as a tenant due to habitability issues in your unit. Provide proof of your original written notice to the landlord.

Bottom Line

Read through your state’s rental housing habitability laws to ensure that your own response to a heating or cooling concern follows protocol.

Get our free newsletter

Join 200,000+ landlords

  • ​Tips to increase income
  • Time-saving techniques
  • ​Powerful tools & resources

6 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Keya Homes

    The luxury real estate in Bangalore is one of the more progressed, advanced and lucrative for both developers and buyers in India. There had been a period when the city had been tormented by infrastructure concerns yet this issue has been tended to by the administration and the luxury real estate in Bangalore is absolutely buzzing.

  • Ronald Sauer

    Our tenant thinks that we are required to have the furnace wired so the fan can be run 24 hour a day to help cool the place. Was not agreed to before renting and there is not a/c in the apartment. we are in Wisconsin. Thanks

  • KCR Inc

    I like Your Blog your Blog is very interesting and informative.

    Thank You.

  • Julie Brooks

    I would like more information about the operations of my apartment complex, located here in Ogden, Utah. I have seen & observed many wrongs in their upkeep. 1 good example is snow & ice removal, winter conditions in the parking lot & side walk are hazardous. & they don’t provide a winter area for my K9 Therapy Companion. Outside stairs have broken & have stress cracks, obtaining a storage space was a hassle & not allowed to me for almost 1 year. Please help me.

  • Andrew Rothe

    Hello my name is Andrew. I live in an apartment in henderson nevada and have been having constant problems with my a/c and heater since June. I’ve called the management of the complex to get it resolved right away. They called nevada energy and they checked the power for everything in the apartment but didn’t actually run the a/c to see the complaint I was having. Called multiple times after and they said they sent somebody to my apartment to check on it. The only problem is that I’ve been unemployed from an injury and stayed home for 3 months( I’m epileptic) and nobody so much as knocked on the door. Now when I run my heater it sounds like it’s going to explode. What kind of legal action can I take?

  • Bryan Blockson

    This question is for my girlfriends apartment in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland winters are brutal. Last year her heat wasn’t working properly and this year it seems to be a repeat of last years problems. She is very soft spoken and believes that she is causing trouble by complaining to the landlord about her rights to a habitable living space. I know that I can’t do anything about it, but what are her legal rights? This has been going on too long and today she sent an email explaining the situation. So far no response. I understand a phone call would have been more direct, but if they don’t fix the problem again, what are her legal options?

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Be short, sweet and to the point.