Montgomery County Council passes air conditioning bill

It’ll be a lot cooler this summer in Montgomery County, Maryland — at least for the roughly 300,000 people who rent.

After approving amendments to a bill requiring that landlords provide air conditioning to their tenants, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 24-19.

The bill details that landlords have to provide air conditioning in apartments from June 1 through Sept. 30.

“We need to treat this bill like a public health issue,” Council member Will Jawando said.

“We’ve had a requirement for heat for a long time, because it really is a life or death issue,” said Council member Tom Hucker, who sponsored the bill. “A/C has become a life or death issue, not just a comfort issue.”

Hucker said the bill does not apply to those who rent single-family homes. Landlords can file for a six-month extension.

“We’re not only concerned about the cost of a window unit, which isn’t that much, but it’s the more expensive electric upgrades that may be necessary in some of our older rental properties,” Hucker said.

After voicing his support for the bill, Council member Evan Glass recalled growing up unable to turn on the air conditioning unit in his family’s apartment because of how much it cost to run it.

“I think it’s important for me to share my story, because just because people have air conditioning units, doesn’t mean they’re going to use them,” Glass said. “And so, there are concerns I have about the additional costs.”

Landlords will have to pay for the upgrades. Extensions will be provided to them if more time is needed to install the units by the June deadline.

The bill now goes to County Executive Marc Elrich for approval.

WTOP’s Will Vitka contributed to this report. 

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