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July 8, 2020

Who Is Responsible To Repair My AC – Me Or My Landlord?

July 8, 2020 | Blog

One of the most inconvenient things to happen is for your air conditioner to stop working – especially during these hot, summer months in Texas. Go Green Heating and Cooling in Austin is known for our AC repair services. Although, if you live somewhere with a landlord, it may be confusing about who is in charge of getting the air conditioning unit repaired when needed.

In Texas, there is no law stating that a landlord must provide an air conditioning unit in your rental home or apartment. I know this must seem crazy, since Texas frequently sees days that cross the 100-degree mark. (Some cities do have stricter requirements for landlords. Dallas, for instance, requires landlords to provide some sort of conditioned air to tenants from April to November – but the city requirement doesn’t necessarily mean that air will be cold. It only has to be 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. So if it’s 107 outside, 87 degrees inside the home or apartment would be considered acceptable.)

What Does The Tenants’ Rights Handbook Say?

The state attorney general does provide guidance for renters with its Tenants’ Rights Handbook, which you can find online. Texas law states that landlords must fix any problems they’ve been notified of that are detrimental to the tenant’s health. The state does include air conditioning in that portion of the handbook – in some situations. Here’s the exact wording:

“Texas law requires landlords to make a diligent effort to repair problems about which they have been notified and that materially affect the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant. Examples of items that materially affect the health and safety of an ordinary tenant are sewage backups, roaches, rats, no hot water, faulty wiring, roof leaks, and, sometimes, a lack of heat or air conditioning.”

As you can see, not having a functioning air conditioner or heater may not be a life or death situation, depending on the weather and time of year. Tenants are given a certain amount of days to notify the landlord of the problem. The landlord has to get it fixed within a timeframe.

How Long Does a Landlord Have to Get a Problem Fixed?

It depends on the problem. Again, here’s the exact wording from the Tenants’ Rights Handbook:

“After providing a proper notice and the conditions outlined above are met, you must wait seven days for the landlord to repair the problem before you can hire a contractor for repairs. (Exception: You do not have to wait at all if the condition involves serious sewage problems or flooding, and you only have to wait three days if the condition involves lack of drinking water, heat, or air conditioning.)”

Air conditioning is mentioned there, so your landlord has three days to get your AC up and running again if it’s deemed a physical health or safety issue. If it is a health and safety issue and you are elderly or have small children, it’s generally suggested you quickly alert the city of the problem.

If the repair isn’t made in that time and it’s deemed a physical health or safety issue, there are other steps to take. The attorney general walks renters through those options in the handbook. They include a “repair and deduct” option – where you pay for the repair out of pocket and deduct it from your next month’s rent – up to $500. To use this method of repair, the following condition has to be met:

“The landlord has agreed to furnish heating or cooling and the equipment is not working adequately, and the landlord has been notified in writing by a local health, housing, or building official that the lack of heating or cooling materially affects health or safety of an ordinary tenant.”

Other Tenant Options

Other options for tenants include breaking the lease or suing the landlord. Both of those come with conditions outlined by the state in the handbook. The state recommends contacting a lawyer if you’re considering any of these three options. Above all else, do not withhold your rent if an issue isn’t being repaired. You will likely lose all power to use these options from the state if you do so.

What About Apartment Complexes?

If an apartment community states it is providing an air conditioning unit in the apartment, the tenant must check that it works prior to moving in. In reality, most apartments in Texas provide AC, and most apartment communities have maintenance crews that fix any issues that arise – usually in 24-48 hours.

Are you a landlord looking for a reliable, Austin AC repair company? Do you need an air conditioning unit repaired? Contact Go Green Heating and Cooling right away to schedule a consultation!

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