With temperatures nearing 100 degrees in Western New York this week, Buffalo residents who are blessed enough to have air conditioning will be blasting that cool air to avoid melting. But what if you’re not one of the lucky ones who has an air conditioning unit or central air in their apartment? Is your landlord required to provide that for you on extremely hot days here in WNY?

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As a renter, you are entitled to several things to protect you after you sign your lease.

The biggest thing here in New York state is the right to have heat in your apartment during the winter months. According to New York’s “Tenant’s Rights Guide” put out by the NY Attorney General, “Heat must be supplied from October 1 through May 31 to tenants in multiple dwellings. If the outdoor temperature falls below 55°F between the hours of six a.m. and ten p.m., each apartment must be heated to a temperature of at least 68°F. If the outdoor temperature falls below 40°F between the hours of ten p.m. and six a.m., each apartment must be heated to a temperature of at least 55°F.” Remember that you also have the right to request copies of the past two years' worth of heating bills before you sign your lease, so you’ll have an idea of how to budget appropriately.

As for air-conditioning in the hot summer months, that can be a little tricky. If your apartment had a working A/C unit or central air when it was originally leased to you, the landlord is technically required to fix it. As explained by attorney Matthew S. Chase in, a landlord/tenant attorney from MO, in a response to a post on avvo.com, “In essence, you have the right to the premises as when it was leased to you, that is, with all the amenities as when it was shown to you. If they refuse the repair of the central A/C, you can be released from the lease.”

It’s recommended that before you move into a unit with air conditioning, you ask the landlord to provide a clause in your lease with a procedure to follow in case it stops working or needs repairs. 

Now, the bad news for many hot New Yorkers: the state doesn’t consider air-conditioning to be a “necessity” for renters, and there is no requirement for a landlord to provide one in hot weather.

You can, however, take matters into your own hands and purchase a window unit or other air conditioner if you choose. There are some catches though, depending on if you pay your own electricity bill or if your landlord does.

If you use a service like National Grid to personally pay your electric bill, and you purchase an air conditioner that’s a window unit, your landlord may collect a $5 per-month charge for each unit that extends outside the window line.

If your landlord pays your electric bill, your landlord may charge you a surcharge for the use of electricity that the air conditioner uses. For more info, click here.

Stay cool, Buffalo!

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