Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, wills & estate planning, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.
We represent both renters and landlords in DFW that turn to us with questions regarding their rights and responsibilities in both roles. For example, many people believe that air conditioning is a modern necessity, but as a property owner, are you responsible for air conditioning? On the flip side, what are your renters’ rights, if any, to air conditioning in Texas?
Are Landlords Legally Required to Provide Air Conditioning?
In most states, landlords are not required to provide air conditioning according to landlord-tenant laws. The majority of jurisdictions consider air conditioning an amenity rather than a requirement of habitable living conditions. However, that is certainly not the case in the Lone Star State. Our scorching summer temperatures require air conditioning in rental units to be “habitable.” A Texas landlords’ responsibilities fall under the warranty of implied habitability, which means that the rental property is in a condition that’s fit to be occupied.
Implied Warranty of Habitability Expectations
Let’s delve into this implied warranty in greater detail. What does it mean to say that landlords must provide habitable rentals? There is no national standard that defines “implied warranty of habitability.” Some state laws lay out specific requirements, while others leave it up to interpretation. In most states, including Texas, landlords meet their obligation by:
- keeping basic structural elements of the building, including floors, stairs, walls, and roofs, safe and intact
- maintaining all common areas, such as hallways and stairways, in a safe and clean condition
- keeping electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems and elevators operating safely
- supplying cold and hot water and heat in reasonable amounts at reasonable times
- keeping known environmental hazards such as lead paint dust and asbestos from posing a significant danger
- taking reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable criminal intrusions
- exterminating rodents and other vermin (such as bed bugs)
- maintaining fully functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- providing safe emergency exits (points of egress) & adequate ventilation
Please keep in mind that habitability is based on safe, sanitary, and secure living conditions. However, this does not mean a rental property has to be perfect, aesthetically pleasing, or luxuriously comfortable. Furthermore, in nearly all circumstances, the implied warranty of habitability persists even when parties try to circumvent it.
In other words, landlords cannot shrug off these responsibilities in a “disclaimer” when the tenancy begins. Similarly, courts won’t uphold any agreements between landlords and tenants to waive the warranty (when a landlord offers lower rent in exchange for a tenant’s waiver, for example). Additionally, Texas deems it as the landlord’s responsibility to repair or remedy any condition that materially affects the physical health and safety of any tenant. For instance, this means providing air conditioning when conditions create an extreme level of discomfort and health hazards (i.e. hyperthermia and heat stroke).
In Dallas, Texas, and its surrounding suburbs, landlords are required to provide their tenants with “refrigerated air” from April 1 to November 1. Refrigerated air is defined as having indoor air that’s 20 degrees cooler than the outdoor air. This legal requirement means that if it’s 109 degrees outside, rentals must not be hotter than 89 degrees, which is still quite hot. However, the state of Texas as a whole does not require landlords to provide their renters with A/C but must provide A/C if it will solve a temperature situation that threatens the tenant’s health and safety.
Air Conditioning Maintenance & Repair
When the air conditioning breaks from normal wear and tear, natural forces, or other causes over which the tenant has no control, the landlord is responsible for fixing (or replacing) it and covering the costs. The tenant is responsible for covering the cost of repair or replacement when the A/C incurs damage due to neglectful behavior by the tenant or tenant’s guests. In this case, the landlord can choose whether the tenant directly pays the service technician or if it gets deducted from their security deposit.
We are often asked by landlords how to preemptively put measures in place for A/C failures during a lease term. We recommend that a landlord outline the steps the tenant must take to promptly notify them of inoperational air conditioning in the unit. Consider implementing the following:
- The tenant must call the landlord or the maintenance department noted in the rental agreement when the air conditioning fails.
- The tenant must send a notice in writing (preferably email), detailing the date the A/C stopped working, the current date, and any other relevant information.
- The tenant must provide the unit number/property address and contact information so a repair technician can schedule a repair day and time.
Additional advice that we provide to landlords in the Dallas Fort-Worth area is to have the air conditioning systems inspected by maintenance professionals regularly, whether it’s at the end of a lease or once a year. These routine check-ups will give you an up to date understanding of the condition of the HVAC system. Also, this allows landlords ample time to make any repairs, preventative or otherwise, before more costly damage occurs with a tenant occupying the rental.
Remember, owning a rental property and being a landlord comes with great responsibility in Texas. Most often landlords are caught up with the romantic notion of wealth building through real estate and fail to remember their duties and obligations to each tenant under a lease agreement. As always, we are here to provide both landlords and tenants with legal advice in the areas of property and real estate law. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of assistance.
I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”
As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!
Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?