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Press Releases - County Council

Council enacts bill spearheaded by Council Vice President Tom Hucker to require air conditioning for all rental units in Montgomery County

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Bill 24-19 is part of Hucker’s ongoing efforts to improve living conditions for renters

ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 25, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously enacted Bill 24-19, Landlord – Tenant Relations – Obligations of Landlord – Air Conditioning, that would improve living conditions for renters across Montgomery County. Councilmember Tom Hucker, chair of the Transportation and Environment Committee and Council vice president, is the lead sponsor of Bill 24-19, which requires landlords to provide and maintain air conditioning service for rental housing in the County. Councilmembers Will Jawando, Gabe Albornoz, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer are cosponsors of the bill.

“Extreme heat can be just as deadly to vulnerable residents as extreme cold,” Hucker said. “Yet the County Code has a limit on only how cold an apartment can get. As climate change worsens, we are going to see hotter days for longer periods of time, so it will be more important than ever that tenants have access to a safe and cool environment.”

Many residents who rent older and more affordable housing units do not have access to consistent air conditioning. This bill requires that individual air conditioning units, or a central air conditioning system, be maintained in good working condition to provide an inside temperature of 80 degrees or less from June 1 through Sept. 30 each year. Prior to Bill 24-19, County law required only that each rental unit be able to maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees but didn’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 and Prevention, more than 600 people die every year nationwide from heat-related illnesses. In 2018 in Montgomery County, approximately 800 cases of heat-related illnesses were reported from May 22 through Sept. 17.

Bill 24-19 is part of Hucker’s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for renters across the County. In June of last year, the Council unanimously enacted Bill 6-19, Landlord – Tenant Relations – Termination of Lease – Tenant Health, which was also sponsored by Hucker. This law 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. “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.”

Watch video of Vice President Hucker’s remarks on Bill 24-19 before the final vote: https://youtu.be/s1QjQveoe8s . The Council staff report can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/Bill2419Enact .

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Release ID: 20-064
Media Contact: Dave Kunes 240-777-7970