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Press Releases - County Council

Transportation and Environment Committee Chair Tom Hucker to hold press conference on bill to require air conditioning for all rental units in Montgomery County

For Immediate Release: Monday, September 9, 2019

From the Office of Councilmember Tom Hucker

Councilmember Hucker will be joined by residents of
Charter House in Silver Spring, who will share how
Bill 24-19 would improve their health and quality of life

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 9—Councilmember Tom Hucker, who chairs the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee, will hold a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at noon, in advance of the Council public hearing on Bill 24-19, Landlord-Tenant Relations - Obligations of Landlord - Air Conditioning.

Bill 24-19 would require a landlord to provide and maintain air conditioning service for rental housing in the County. Councilmembers Will Jawando and Gabe Albornoz and Council President Nancy Navarro are cosponsors of Bill 24-19.

Residents of the Charter House apartment building for seniors in Silver Spring will join Councilmember Hucker for the press conference, which will be held in the Third Floor Council Hearing Room at the Stella B. Werner Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave., Rockville). The public hearing will follow at 1:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Council Hearing Room.

“Air conditioning is more than a matter of comfort for many people,” Councilmember Hucker said. “Especially for the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, it’s a matter of life or death. And climate change is only exacerbating the problem, as just six weeks ago we lived through the hottest month ever recorded on the planet.”

Many residents who rent older and more affordable housing units do not have access to consistent air conditioning. This bill requires individual air conditioning units, or a central air conditioning system, be maintained in good working order to provide an inside temperature of no higher than 80 degrees from May 1 through Sept. 30 each year. Currently, County law requires that each rental unit be able to maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees but doesn’t mandate a maximum temperature.

If a landlord does not comply with the new law, tenants may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the landlord may face a fine of $500.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 600 people die every year nationwide from heat-related illnesses. Last year in Montgomery County, approximately 800 cases of heat-related illnesses were reported from May 22 through Sept. 17.

This summer, at least two residents of the Charter House were taken to a hospital when the air conditioning failed during heat waves.

Bill 24-19 is part of Hucker’s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for renters across the County. In June, the Council unanimously enacted Bill 6-19, Landlord – Tenant Relations – Termination of Lease – Tenant Health, which was also sponsored by Hucker. This bill requires each lease for rental housing in the County to allow the tenant to terminate the lease, if the landlord doesn’t correct conditions that impact the immediate health and safety of a tenant in a tenant’s unit or in a common area within 30 days.

“Tenants deserve quiet, quality, comfortable and healthy places to live,” said Matt Losak, executive director of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, who is scheduled to speak at the press conference. “We are grateful for Councilmember Hucker’s attention to air conditioning standards as temperatures continue to rise alongside the increasing population of renters in our county, especially senior renters. This legislation is long overdue.”

Also scheduled to speak at the press conference is Dr. Travis A. Gayles, Montgomery County health officer.

Watch video of Councilmember Hucker’s remarks at the introduction of Bill 24-19 here: https://youtu.be/V5eh7TTru8Y. The Council staff report can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/HuckerACbill.

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Release ID: 19-287
Media Contact: Bob Rand 240-777-7937 , Dave Kunes 240-777-7970