In the past 50 years, the number of Americans renting their homes has gone up by nearly 25%. About 35% of the total U.S. households, or 44 million housing units, are now rented. Many landlords rent their properties with utilities included, but many others don’t.
So, what can you do if the heating or cooling goes out in your Greater Houston-area rental?
While city ordinances regarding heat and air conditioning vary, Texas state law requires that every rented property must be “fit for human habitation” and that state landlords must ensure their rental properties are livable. However, what constitutes a rental property’s livability is different for heating and cooling.
For instance, under the Texas Administrative Code, heating systems must maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, landlords are not obligated to provide air conditioning to tenants, meaning no state standards exist.
Fortunately, Houston does have an ordinance that requires property owners to provide and maintain air conditioning within a certain temperature. Here’s what you need to know when something goes wrong.
What Are Texas Air Conditioning Rental Laws?
Under state law, landlords are only required to fix a broken air conditioner if it was working when you moved into the rental. That’s why it’s critical to check that the AC system is working before you sign a lease and move into the property.
The landlord then has a mandated time frame, typically three to seven days, to make a valid effort to repair any problems that might affect a tenant’s health and safety.
If, after notifying your landlord of the problem, they do not make a “diligent effort to repair” it, Texas landlord/tenant law suggests:
- Taking specific steps as outlined in the repairs page, Section 92.056 of the Texas Property Code — you can’t take further action until you follow these steps
- Deducting the cost of repairs from rent, but only after notifying the landlord you intend to do so
- Sueing the landlord under Section 92.0563 of the Texas Property Code
It’s crucial to follow state guidelines exactly before withholding rent, deducting repairs, or ending your lease. Speaking with an attorney is often recommended to ensure you’re within the law.
Do Landlords Need To Provide Heat in Texas?
Under Texas landlord/tenant law, if your rental is entirely without heat, the problem must be remedied within three days.
Under Property Code Section 92.009, Texas landlords cannot interrupt a tenant’s heating supply except for emergencies, compulsory repairs, or construction. This is applicable regardless of how you pay your heating bills or if utilities are included in your rent.
If a landlord shuts the power to your rental off for a non-emergency reason, you have the right under Texas law to obtain a “writ of restoration” from the court and claim damages and penalties.
Texas landlord/tenant law operates under the principle that fully functional heating in a home, rented or otherwise, is a vital necessity, no matter the time of year or the tenant’s age.
As mentioned above, every rental property in Texas must be fit for human habitation, meaning landlords must ensure heating units maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees. Failure to provide adequate heating can violate your lease agreement, meaning you could pursue legal remedies if necessary.
Schedule AC or Heating Repair With Horizon Air Solutions
Renting a home in the Greater Houston area comes with many benefits. However, if your heat or AC stops working, it’s imperative to get it repaired or replaced as quickly as possible.
Horizon Air Solutions is known for our ethical and exceptional HVAC services that ensure your rental property is comfortable and energy-efficient all year. Our skilled technicians prioritize your safety and satisfaction, adhering to the industry’s highest standards.
We’re your trusted source of heating and cooling repair, maintenance, and replacement. We also offer 24/7 emergency HVAC repair to all our Houston customers.
Call (346) 988-2977 to learn more. We look forward to serving you.