By Melissa Howell posted September 11th, 2019 on www.wtop.com
Landlords in Montgomery County, Maryland, aren’t required to provide air conditioning for tenants — but that may soon change.
Bill 24-19, proposed by Councilman Tom Hucker, would require landlords to provide and maintain air conditioning at least 80 degrees between May 1 and Sept. 30.
“Access to air conditioning isn’t merely a comfort issue,” Hucker said. “For many, especially elderly residents and those with medical conditions, it can be a matter of life or death.”
Supporters of the legislation spoke before the Montgomery County Council Tuesday night.
Julio Marigio, a government and strategic relations specialist with CASA, an organization that advocates for immigrants, stressed the need for oversight and changes when it comes to quality of life in order to ensure vulnerable residents are protected.
“They are just asking for the right to live in a safe environment where they do not have to expose themselves to the dangerous extreme temperatures inside their home,” he said.
While he doesn’t believe the bill will address climate change, Marigio said it will help vulnerable residents mitigate its effects.
Victoria Price, a resident of Charter House Apartments in Silver Spring, shared a 2011 incident where a neighbor died in his apartment. His air conditioning, she said, was not operational before his death.
Matt Losak, executive director of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, said many of the complaints during the organization’s time working with hundreds of renters involve issues with air conditioning and heating.
Losak argues that while vague requirements currently say air conditioning must be in working order for those who do have it, more specific laws, like bill 24-19, are needed to address many unanswered questions.
“We understand it’s not going to solve all problems but it will solve one major problem in Montgomery County,” he added.
The bill is expected to be considered by the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee Sept. 23.