In the midst of a DC heat wave, many are rushing to turn on the AC. The Verify team answers the question of whether landlords are required to provide air conditioning.

WASHINGTON – The DC area forecast called for several days of dangerously hot weather this week. The WUSA9 weather team predicted a whopping 95 degrees with a heat index of around 100 degrees for Tuesday.

Amid this heat wave, many are wondering on social media whether landlords are required to provide air conditioning.

“AC should be a requirement in every household,” wrote one user. “Regardless of the weather in the state you live in. If you don’t use it, cool. But at least we could have the option instead of suffering! I’m literally snuggling a cold water bottle for relief.”

The Verify team reached out to local governments at DMV to find out if landlords are required to offer air conditioning to their tenants.

Here is a question I have … When it gets up to 100 degrees, why don’t houses and apartments have air conditioning? Is that a stupid question

– Cruelena Deville (@missseleneous) June 28, 2021

THE QUESTION

Do landlords have to offer their tenants air conditioning?

OUR SOURCES

  • Section 14-510, “Air Conditioning” – DC Code
  • DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, spokesperson
  • Maryland Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Spokesperson
  • Montgomery County Legislation, Bill 24-19 – “Air Conditioning”
  • Montgomery County, “Air Conditioning Requirements in Rental Apartments or Apartment blocks”
  • Prince George’s County, spokesman
  • CB-053-2020 Prince George Bill on Air Conditioning
  • Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code
  • Arlington County, spokesman
  • Jack Weyant, Director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Code Compliance
  • Bill Hicks, Fairfax County’s director of land development services
  • Loudoun County Office of Housing, Spokesperson
  • Prince William County Office of Housing and Community Development, Speaker S

THE ANSWER

After the Verify team reached out to seven jurisdictions, the Verify team learned that only Montgomery County landlords are required to provide air conditioning, and only in certain months.

Various jurisdictions have regulations governing the quality of AC units when they are made available to tenants.

WHAT WE KNOW

The Verify team is breaking the rules for each of the seven jurisdictions in the region.

A spokesman for DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs responded to a request from the Verify team, writing that DC landlords are not required to offer AC units. Developers are also not required to offer AC in new units.

The DCRA spokesman said the DC law requires landlords to keep the AC units at a quality level when they are offered to the tenant. This guideline is described in Section 14-510 of the DC Code.

“The owner of a rented apartment who provides air conditioning as a service either via individual air conditioning units or a central air conditioning system,” says the code. “Is to keep such a device or system in a safe and good operating condition so that it offers an internal temperature of at least fifteen degrees Fahrenheit below the external temperature.”

Landlords are required to provide air conditioning to tenants between June 1 and September 30, according to a spokesman for the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The spokesman said this was due to Bill 24-19, which went into effect June 1, 2020. The requirements are as follows:

  • Any owner of rental properties where cooling is not under the control of the tenant must maintain a temperature of no more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit in any habitable space within 3 feet of the ground
  • Any owner of rental housing where cooling is under the control of the tenant must maintain a temperature of no more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit (80 ° F) in any habitable space within 3 feet of air conditioning on the first floor.

This Montgomery County DHCA spokesman said Chapters 29 and 26 of the Montgomery County Code require that “all equipment provided by the rental company be kept in good condition”.

A Prince George’s County spokesman told the Verify team that the county does not require AC units when building new homes and wrote that it is optional.

However, in November 2020 a law was passed that “requires that air conditioning provided by a landlord in any habitable space must be kept at a temperature of no more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit and activated from June 1 to September 30 of each year . ”

This bill exempts single family homes and historic properties and allows tenants to opt out of the requirement “under certain circumstances”.

“(AC) is not required,” said the spokesman. “But when it is provided, it has to cool according to the regulations we cite, and that applies to both units controlled by the landlord and tenants.”

An Arlington County spokesman told the Verify team that there was “no local building code” because they were based on the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.

“Under this code, landlords are not required to provide air conditioning, either in existing buildings or in new builds, although they must meet certain standards when providing AC units,” the code states.

The spokesman said the regulations are as follows:

  • Section 602.4 Cooling Supply: “Any owner and operator of a group R-2 apartment building who rents, leases or leases out or leases more residential units, room units or guest rooms on express or tacit conditions in order to provide cooling for the residents of the building” in the period from May 15 to October 1 to cool in order to keep a temperature of no more than 25 ° C in all habitable rooms. “
  • Section 104.5.2: “The Code Officer may also consider changes in accordance with Section 104.5.2 if requested due to unusual circumstances, or may authorize building owners to convert HVAC systems with shared heating 14 calendar days before or after the specified dates. and grant cooling tubes if longer unusual periods of time periods temperatures deserve a change in these dates. “
  • Exceptions: “If the outside temperature is higher than the summer design temperature for the location, it is not necessary to maintain the room temperature, provided the cooling system is operating at its full design capacity. The summer design temperature for the location must be as specified in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). “

Jack Weyant, the director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Code Compliance, told the Verify team that the Virginia Property Maintenance Code requires landlords to maintain air conditioning in apartment buildings if units are air conditioned.

However, Weyant stated that there is no need to provide AC power if the device is not equipped for it.

“Residents are encouraged to discuss the matter with their landlord or property manager before contacting Code Compliance to file a complaint,” Weyant said.

Bill Hicks, director of land development services for Fairfax County, said Virginia building codes do not require cooling in new homes.

A Loudoun County spokesman told the Verify team that according to the Department of Building and Development, Planning and Zoning, building code requirements “do not oblige landlords to provide air conditioning.”

“There are no regulations within the Planning and Zoning regulator that mandate air conditioning.”

That spokesman said there is also no need for developers to offer AC units in new builds. There is also no obligation of the district for landlords to keep the air conditioning at a quality level.

Loudoun County residents would still be required to follow the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code as detailed above.

A Prince William County spokesman told the Verify team that the county complies with Virginia statewide building codes. According to this guideline, AC units are not required but must be properly maintained when offered.

“Since Virginia passed the state-wide building code, Prince William County has no authority to change the building code at the local level,” said a county spokesman.

The Prince William County spokesman said the state-wide building code required “minimum ventilation and heating requirements,” but not an AC mandate.