The high temperatures in Texas make air conditioning practically a necessity, especially during the summer months. You might be surprised to learn, then, that the law does not require a landlord to provide an air conditioner or central air system in rental houses or apartments. Texas laws on apartment air conditioners relate to the rental laws in effect.
Landlords are responsible for providing renters with adequate heat, hot water, and running water. The exception is in the case of a lease that specifies something different. For example, a landlord may rent an apartment with the stipulation that water and heat are the responsibility of the tenant. The law, as of publication, has no provision in place regarding air conditioners in apartments. The landlord has an option to provide central air or a window-mount air conditioner. Unless it is specifically mentioned in the lease, however, the landlord is not responsible for providing A/C.
If your lease specifically mentions that the apartment is air conditioned or comes with an air conditioner, then the landlord must ensure that the unit works properly. Renters should test the system prior to moving in and signing the lease. Non-working units must be reported and fixed before the tenant moves into the apartment.
Texas law requires that landlords fix problems that might affect the health of people inside the building as soon as possible. A lack of air conditioning is generally not considered a threat to your health, however, like sewer problems or water problems. The tenant must inform the landlord of the broken unit in writing and wait three days for a response. If the landlord fails to make the needed repairs, then the tenant has the right to send a second notice, telling the landlord that if the air conditioning is not fixed, then the tenant will pay for the repairs out of pocket and deduct the cost from the rent due. Landlords are only responsible for maintaining air conditioning units mentioned in a lease.
Landlords that do not provide air conditioning have the right to restrict A/C units on the lease. For example, the lease may require that units not be used in windows with sidewalks underneath. The lease can also restrict the dimensions of a window-mount unit, or stop a tenant from using multiple units in the same apartment. If the landlord provides a unit, but does not specifically list the item in the lease, then it is generally the responsibility of the tenant to keep it in working condition.
Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.