In most states, landlords have to provide heating, sometimes only during the cold season. Many states don’t require a landlord to provide air conditioning, but do require landlords to maintain any air conditioning that is provided.
What To Do if a Landlord Doesn’t Provide Required Heating and Air Conditioning
A tenant’s first step is to demand required heating and air conditioning on the rental property, if a landlord doesn’t provide it. Most legal remedies aren’t available unless tenant first requests the supply or repair of heating and air conditioning up to the legal standard. A renter’s rights for repairs may be limited without first giving this proper notice to the landlord.
Delivering Proper Notice
Notice about deficiencies in heating or air conditioning must get delivered to the landlord through legally acceptable methods. Some states permit verbal notice about such issues. Many require written notice.
Proving how long a landlord took to respond to a repair request is a critical part of any legal remedy, especially when reporting a landlord to housing authorities. Whether or not it’s legally required, written notice to the landlord is the best way to ensure this evidence is available, especially when delivered through certified mail.
How Long Can a Landlord Wait Before Providing Required Heating and Air Conditioning?
Depending on the state, a landlord may be able to wait up to 30 days before supplying required heating and air conditioning. However, the average jurisdiction requires significantly faster action than this. While state standards can vary widely, most states will require action on legally required heating or air conditioning within a week or two at most.
Consequences for Not Providing Heating and Air Conditioning
Landlord failure to provide required heating and air conditioning is one of the most serious types of housing violation. State laws vary widely, but if a landlord doesn’t provide heating or air conditioning after proper notice from the tenant, a tenant can often stop rent payments. Several states also give the tenant the option of moving to alternative accommodation until services get restored.
The following remedies are also often available:
- Injunction to force compliance
- Suing the landlord for costs of the violation (monetary damages)
- Reporting the landlord to housing authorities
- Ending the lease and moving out (for major violations)
It’s often also legal for a tenant to contract for repairs and deduct from the rent, but the deductible amount often is too low to cover costs.
It’s a particularly serious issue for a landlord to neglect required heating or air conditioning as retaliation against a tenant who has complained about health and safety problems on the rental property. There’s often a significant civil penalty against landlords who take this kind of retaliatory action.
The only states without rules against landlord retaliation are:
- North Dakota
Every other state provides at least some protection against landlord retaliation.