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What are my rights as a renter for air conditioning in Colorado?

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Posted at 3:41 PM, Jul 24, 2022

DENVER — It’s a topic that many people have reached out to Contact Denver7 about: what are a renter’s rights (and a landlord’s responsibilities) when it comes to air conditioning in Colorado?

From having an A/C unit at all, to repairing it when it breaks, the details depend on a renter’s individual circumstances. Denver7 posed some top questions to Drew Hamrick, an attorney with the Apartment Association of Metro Denver.

The first thing to know is that in the state of Colorado, landlords are not required to provide air conditioning in the apartments or homes they lease.

“There is no obligation that people have air conditioning in their homes,” Hamrick explained. “When you’re buying a house or renting a house, if air conditioning is important to you, you want to make sure it’s there. And, that’s an easy thing to forget if you’re making that decision in February or March and not thinking about it.”

What are my rights as a renter for air conditioning in Colorado?

The story may be different, however, if a landlord or management company already provides air conditioning which then stops working. They will likely be obligated contractually to fix it within a “reasonable period of time,” Hamrick said.

“Now—reasonable period of time can be a bit arbitrary, and changes on the fact pattern,” he explained. “And certainly, with all of the supply chain interruptions that people are seeing, things aren’t happening as fast as they used to or you’d like them to.”

Colorado’s law of habitability requires working heat for safe living. As of now, there is not an equivalent requirement for A/C. Could that change, as heat becomes more extreme in Colorado and around the globe?

“Well, I suppose it’s possible,” Hamrick said. “The reason that heat is required in any residence and air conditioning is not is it gets cold enough here that you have to have heat for the residence to be habitable… You can't rent somebody a tent. It's illegal in this state. So, I suppose if you get to the point that air conditioning is not so much an amenity but a requirement that could happen; but, it would have bad effects on the cost of housing.

“And there are some things afoot that will actually, I think, reduce air conditioning out there. A lot of local governments are enacting ordinances that require housing providers to limit the amount of energy used by the residents. So you'll see things like, refrigerators getting smaller, less availability of party rooms and business centers, swimming pools going away. And air conditioning may very well be a luxury in these energy rationing schemes that you just don't see as often as you do now.”

If an apartment or home you rent has an air conditioning unit that stops working, Hamrick said it’s important to give your landlord or management company written notice of the problem right away.