Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
California law gives renters a number of rights. Including, the right to live in a home that meets the state’s basic health, safety, and building codes.
Be that as it may, do renters have a right to air conditioning in California? Well, it depends!
As a renter, you may have a right to air conditioning if it is mentioned in your lease agreement. However, if it’s not mentioned, then California law doesn’t require landlords to provide air conditioning to tenants.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding renters’ rights to air conditioning in California.
How long can a landlord leave you without air conditioning in California?
Does the lease include air conditioning? If it does, then you’ll have a right to the following.
#1: Right to have repairs made within 30 days.
Just like other electrical appliances, an air conditioner will experience problems at some point. The problems could range from clogged air filters, to low refrigerant levels, to dirty coils, to a faulty thermostat, to compressor problems, to anything in between.
And when any of these issues arise, you may have to call upon the landlord to have the repairs done. Under California warranty of habitability (CA Civ. Code § 1941.2), a landlord has a duty to make requested repairs within 30 days.
If the landlord fails to make the repairs within 30 days, you may be able to exercise some legal options.
#2: Right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to repair within the required time.
One of the legal options a tenant has in California if the landlord fails to make requested repairs is withholding rent payments. However, before withholding rent, make sure to take note of the following.
For one, you must send your landlord a written notice of the required repairs. You will then need to give them 30 days to carry out the repairs. If the landlord doesn’t make the repairs within this time, then you can go ahead and withhold the rent payments.
You may, however, need to place the rent into an escrow account just in case the landlord may want to evict you for failing to pay rent. This will serve as evidence that you didn’t withhold the rent to save money or because you couldn’t afford the payment.
Besides withholding rent, you may also be able to break the lease without penalty, repair the issue yourself and deduct appropriate amounts, or sue the landlord for damages.
Are landlords responsible for AC in California?
California law doesn’t require landlords to provide tenants with air conditioning. However, if the landlord provides it nonetheless, then they must take on the responsibility of ensuring it is well maintained at all times.
What is the legal temperature for tenants in California?
While California landlords don’t have to provide air conditioning to tenants, they are required by law to meet the California residential heating requirements.
For a unit to be considered habitable, it must be at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit at a point 3 feet above the flow. A landlord must maintain this temperature throughout the year.
A few exceptions do exist, however. For one, landlords don’t have to abide by this rule if the rental building was built before 1978 and hasn’t been retrofitted for earthquake safety. In addition, a tenant shouldn’t hold their landlord liable where they have voluntarily turned off the heat themselves.
Why isn’t AC required in California?
Unlike some other states, AC isn’t required in California for a number of reasons.
For one, California has a Mediterranean climate. The summers are dry and hot, and the winters are mild and wet. And two, an air conditioning system doesn’t come cheap. They are both expensive to buy and maintain. And with the high electricity costs in California, maintaining AC can be even more prohibitive.
There you have it – everything you need to know when it comes to renters’ rights to air conditioning in California. If you have reasons to believe your landlord has violated any of those rights, please get in touch with a qualified lawyer.
Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.