Responsibilities for Air Conditioning

QUICK FACTS
  • Responsibility for Providing. Some states require all landlords to provide both air conditioning & heating, some don’t, and some only require providing heating (read more).
  • Responsibility for Repairing. If air conditioning and/or heating is provided, it’s generally the landlord’s responsibility to keep it in working condition.
  • Time to Repair. If it’s the landlord’s responsibility, some states specify a time frame to repair (usually ~14 days from request), while others aren’t specific beyond a “reasonable” time period (read more).
  • Tenant’s Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, depending on the state, tenants may have multiple options for recourse, such as withholding rent or terminating the lease (read more).

Each state has its own rules on what needs to be provided for living conditions in rentals to be deemed “acceptable”, known as the Implied Warranty of Habitability. Below is a breakdown of those laws as it relates to air conditioning and heating (HVAC) equipment.

Providing Air Conditioning / Heating

The following chart lists what landlords are required to provide according to state law for each state when it comes to heating and air conditioning.  Any exceptions to the requirements are noted for each state.

Note: the below table only addresses state laws. Always check with county or city housing codes for additional requirements.

State Landlord Responsibility?
Alabama Yes
Alaska Yes
Arizona Yes
Arkansas No
California Yes
Colorado Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware No
Florida Yes
Georgia Heat only
Hawaii Not addressed
Idaho Yes
Illinois Not addressed
Indiana Yes*
Iowa Yes
Kansas Yes
Kentucky Yes
Louisiana Not addressed
Maine Heat only
Maryland Heat only
Massachusetts Heat only
Michigan Heat only
Minnesota Heat only
Mississippi Yes
Missouri Not addressed
Montana Yes
Nebraska Yes
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire Heat only
New Jersey Multi-family units only, and heat only
New Mexico Yes
New York Multi-family units only, and heat only
North Carolina Yes
North Dakota Yes
Ohio Yes
Oklahoma Yes
Oregon Heat only
Pennsylvania Heat only
Rhode Island Yes
South Carolina Yes
South Dakota Heat only
Tennessee Heat only
Texas Not addressed
Utah Heat only
Vermont Heat only
Virginia Yes
Washington Heat only
West Virginia Yes
Wisconsin No*
Wyoming Heat only
Washington, D.C. Heat only

* In Indiana, landlords are only required to provide heat and air conditioning if this was already being provided by the landlord at the time the lease was signed.  Landlords are not required to begin providing heat or air conditioning to a new tenant if this isn’t something the landlord has ever done before.

* In Wisconsin, landlords are only required to notify potential tenants that there is no heat or air conditioning available.  Tenants may still rent the unit, but the landlord will not be required to provide them with heat or air conditioning.

Making Repairs

Generally speaking, if the landlord provides air conditioning and/or heating as an amenity in their rental property, it’s their responsibility to repair it and pay the costs involved. This also includes landlords not required by law to provide it who did so by choice.

Making Requests

In every state (except Arkansas, which doesn’t require landlords to provide any service or repair any item), tenants are required to notify their landlord if there is an item that needs to be repaired.

Depending on the state, this can be done orally or in writing. However, most states only allow for requests to be made in writing. The below table shows which types of repair requests are legally acceptable in each state.

State How Repair Request Can Be Made
In writing (only) Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota*, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming*
Orally or in writing California, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, DC

* In Minnesota, tenants are only allowed to submit a written repair request to their landlord if there is no local housing/safety/health inspector they can report concerns to.

* In Wyoming, even if a tenant submits a repair request in writing, the landlord is not required to make the requested repair.  Instead, landlords have the option to terminate the lease if they choose not to make the repairs.

NOTE

Even if a state does not require it, it’s highly recommended to put all requests in writing in case there is a dispute about the need for the repair or the timing of the request.

Time to Repair

Below is a table for the time frame landlords have to make the repair, starting the day the request is received.

State How Long Landlord Has to Make Repairs
Alabama 2 weeks
Alaska 10 days
Arizona 5 days
Arkansas N/a
California Reasonable time period
Colorado 5 days
Connecticut 15 days
Delaware 15 days
Florida 20 days
Georgia Reasonable time period
Hawaii 3 to 12 days
Idaho 3 days
Illinois 14 days
Indiana Reasonable time period
Iowa 7 days
Kansas 14 days
Kentucky 14 days
Louisiana Reasonable time period
Maine 14 days
Maryland Reasonable time period
Massachusetts 14 days
Michigan 24 hours to a reasonable time period
Minnesota 14 days
Mississippi 30 days
Missouri 14 days
Montana 14 days
Nebraska 14 days
Nevada 14 days
New Hampshire 14 days
New Jersey Reasonable time period
New Mexico 7 days
New York Reasonable time period
North Carolina Reasonable time period
North Dakota Reasonable time period
Ohio Reasonable time period
Oklahoma 14 days
Oregon 7-30 days
Pennsylvania Reasonable time period
Rhode Island 20 days
South Carolina 14 days
South Dakota Reasonable time period
Tennessee Not specified
Texas Reasonable time period
Utah 3-10 days
Vermont 30 days
Virginia 21 days
Washington 24 hours to 10 days
West Virginia Not specified
Wisconsin Timeframe provided by the landlord
Wyoming Reasonable time period
Washington, D.C. Reasonable time period

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

Tenants have multiple options here, depending on the state.  For example, a tenant can make the repair themselves (or hire someone to do it) and deduct the repair amount from their monthly rent.  However, most states set a dollar limit on the amount that can be deducted from rent if using the repair and deduct method.

We include state-by-state remedies in the chart below.  Remember, this doesn’t include a landlord’s intentional or negligent failure to provide heat, which is covered in another section.

Some states only allow for one remedy, while others allow tenants to use several remedies together.

Tenant Remedy State
Withhold Rent California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont
Move Out/ Terminate Lease Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin
Contact Inspector Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin
Pay Reduced Rent Louisiana, New Mexico, Wisconsin
Pursue Legal Action Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas*, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming*
Repair & Deduct From Rent Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas*, Utah, Vermont, Washington

* Renters in Texas and Wyoming are only allowed to pursue the remedies above if they have sent written notice of the items to be repaired to the landlord via certified mail.  Otherwise, they cannot pursue legal action (Wyoming and Texas), or terminate the lease and/or repair the item and deduct the cost from rent (Texas).

Tenant’s Options if Intentional / Negligent Failure

Some states offer additional remedies if a landlord intentionally or negligently fails to provide heat.  This is not the same as a heater breaking down through no fault of the landlord, or a pilot light going out and needing to be relit, etc.

Also, tenants cannot resort to the following remedies if they have not given the landlord appropriate notice/time to make any repairs or correct the issue.

These remedies would only apply if the landlord knew there was an issue and ignored it or the repairs made were inadequate or wrong.

Tenants could also apply these remedies if the landlord was responsible for paying the heating bill and failed to do so, or intentionally cut off a tenant’s heat.

Common remedies tenants have in these situations include:

  • Withholding rent until the heat is restored.
  • Paying the heating bill themselves.  In some states, tenants are allowed to deduct the amount paid from their monthly rent.
  • Moving into temporary housing until the landlord corrects the issue.  The tenant is not required to pay any rent to the landlord while in temporary housing.
  • Terminating the lease.
  • Contacting the local health/building/safety inspector.
  • Paying reduced rent or being reimbursed for rent paid.
  • Pursuing legal action.
  • Repairing the heating unit themselves and deducting repair costs from the monthly rent.

We break down tenant options by state in the chart below.

Tenant Remedy State
Withhold Rent Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico
Pay Heat Bill Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont
Move Out/ Terminate Lease Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
Contact Inspector Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont
Pay Reduced Rent/Get Rent Reimbursement Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana
Pursue Legal Action Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
Repair the Issue Alaska, Arizona

Landlord Retaliation

Retaliation by landlords against their tenants because the tenant requested necessary repairs to heating systems or to have the heating bill paid so heat service could be restored is illegal in almost all states.

However, the following 12 states either do not address retaliation at the state level or have no laws protecting tenants against retaliation by landlords.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Wyoming