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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

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17409 views   |   38   |   Last updated on Jul 12, 2022    Landlord/Tenant Law

This is a question we receive frequently as temperatures soar with the summer heat. There is no state law that specifically gives tenants the right to be provided with air conditioning. However, the law or the lease agreement may require the landlord to protect their tenant against extreme temperatures or to repair a faulty A/C unit. Be sure to review:

  • The lease agreement
  • The city's local ordinances
  • The "repair and remedy" state laws that require a landlord to fix a problem that "materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant."

To find out whether your landlord has a legal duty to repair your A/C unit, there are a few steps you could take.

Check Your Lease

Read through your lease to see if air conditioning is mentioned. Your lease agreement may say whether air conditioning is a feature of the rental that the landlord agrees to maintain. Alternatively, the lease may also say that appliance repair is the tenant's responsibility!

If you need help understanding your lease, consider using FreeLegalAnswers.org. You can use this service to upload a copy of your lease so that a volunteer attorney can review it and respond to your questions.

Check Your Local Ordinances

If you live in a city, your city may have local laws that require landlords to protect residential tenants from extreme temperatures. Dallas and Houston both have ordinances that require property owners to provide and maintain air conditioning within a certain temperature. Note that in Houston, this is only required if door and window screens are not provided. Many cities make their ordinances available online

Most cities do not require residential properties to have air conditioning. However, some cities have technical building codes with minimum standards that would apply if the unit does have air conditioning. If you suspect your unit's air conditioning systems are not up to code, consider contacting your local code enforcement department for help.

Request Repairs From Your Landlord

If your unit came with air conditioning and it is no longer working, state law may offer some protections. Section 92.052 of the Texas Property Code requires a landlord to "repair or remedy a condition" that "materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant." Section 92.056 outlines the steps a tenant must take to request these repairs.

This statute does not give specific examples of issues that materially affect the health and safety of an ordinary tenant. If you believe that the extreme heat in your rental unit would endanger an ordinary person, this law may allow you to ask your landlord for repairs. 

In order to request repairs under this section:

  • The tenant cannot be behind on rent; and
  • The problem cannot be caused by the tenant, their family, or guests unless it was a result of normal wear and tear.

This law would not require a landlord to provide you with air conditioning if you didn't have it before. However, it might require them to fix a broken unit unless the lease says it is not the landlord's responsibility to do so.

Section 92.056 of the Texas Property Code has very specific procedures for asking the landlord to fix the problem. Make sure you follow these steps before taking other measures like ending your lease or deducting repairs from your rent. Failure to do so may result in the tenant being liable to their landlord. Speaking with an attorney for advice is also recommended.

Austin Tenants' Council has created a page about Repair Rights with instructions for requesting repairs under this law. They also offer a free Self-Help Repair Kit with form letters and instructions that you can use to notify your landlord.

For more information on a tenant's right to repairs, please see the Repairs page of our Landlord/Tenant guide.

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