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Air-conditioning mandate bill for Texas renters fails, lawmakers vow to try again

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Jake Salinas wasn’t recklessly turning the thermostat down.

A few weeks ago, his air conditioner had been set to what he considers a modest 76 degrees.

Austin resident Jake Salinas explains how his apartment’s air conditioner wasn’t cooling properly. (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

“It started at 78 and ended up being 81, 82,” Salinas said. “I was obviously sick,” he said, although the wind was blowing, the air conditioner wasn’t cooling properly.

Salinas notified the complex and said the issue was resolved the next day. Still, he couldn’t help but tweet about what he called “fun facts” about his situation. I spent months drafting a bill that would mandate air conditioning, and now my air conditioner isn’t working as it should.

Drafting the bill is part of Salinas’ job as legislative director for Texas Rep. Cheryl Cole (D-Austin).

“He gets a lot of voter complaints against my office,” Cole said.

  • Austin Rep. Cheryl Cole vows to re-fight air conditioning mandate for renters (KXAN photo/Chris Nelson)
  • Jake Salinas, legislative director for Austin Rep. Cheryl Cole, tweeted about the air conditioning issue (Courtesy Jake Salinas)

Complaints Take Action

it was one of them The July 2022 complaint from a voter named Thelma Reyes that prompted Cole to introduce the bill Prioritize air conditioning issues for renters in February 2023.

Reyes said he hadn’t had cool air for five days, even though he said he had warned the apartment manager.

“It was hotter here than outside,” Reyes said at the time.

Cole’s bill was intended to require landlords to provide functioning air conditioners.

“For those of us working on this issue, we were surprised to find that in Texas it is not mandatory to have air conditioning in apartments,” Salinas said.

The bill also establishes further rules for when the air conditioner stops working.

“This would have cut the time a landlord would have had to repair an air conditioning unit from seven days to five days, during which time they would have had to install a portable air conditioning unit instead of a fan,” Cole said.

However, the bill was never considered by the committee.

“I don’t think the guys thought it was really necessary,” Cole said.

Cole said the biggest opponent of the measure is the Texas Apartment Association.

A TAA spokesperson sent the following statement to KXAN Agent Mike Rush:

Texas is a large state with eight unique climate zones and diverse rental housing options. Air conditioners are common equipment installed in many homes, but not all homes are equipped with them. The decision not to include air conditioning may reflect the rental property’s location, age, and other factors.

The state of Texas has enacted laws to protect renters under the Texas Property Code, including those that require rental property owners to take actions that are critical to the health and safety of the general occupants. It includes an obligation to take reasonable steps to remedy any affecting condition and not to delay any attempt to remedy it.

We encourage all residents to read the tenancy agreement outlining the community maintenance and repair process and ask questions if they do not understand. ”

Kyle Jackson, Vice President of Government Affairs, TAA

Still, Mr. Cole said he needed an invoice.

“I feel strongly about it and I am still getting complaints in my district and will be submitting the bill again,” she said.

Cole cannot introduce new air-conditioning bills until the next Congress in 2025, by which time he must be re-elected.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Austin City Councilman Vanessa Fuentes confirmed to KXAN Investigates Fuentes that the city is “in the early stages of looking at this issue and potential solutions.”

https://www.kxan.com/investigations/texas-lawmaker-vows-to-try-again-to-make-ac-for-renters-mandatory/ Air-conditioning mandate bill for Texas renters fails, lawmakers vow to try again

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