AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council could vote Thursday to authorize the beginning of a process to require all residential property owners to offer and maintain air conditioning within residential properties in the city.
Council Member Vanessa Fuentes sponsored the resolution that would initiate a code amendment process to Title 25, the city’s land development code. Fuentes told KXAN Wednesday the proposed change comes as the city has received hundreds of violation complaints regarding landlords not having tenants’ AC units fixed in a timely manner.
“When you’re inside in 90-degree heat, 100-degree heat [within homes], these are dangerous conditions,” Fuentes said. “We’ve got to make sure that folks have safe and healthy housing.”
Fuentes said the resolution, if approved Thursday, would initiate a stakeholder process and, ultimately, lead to a requirement for cooling standards within all Austin residences. Those would pertain to rental homes, apartments and houses.
“We want to make sure that folks can be cool in their homes and that they have — they know that the rights they have are available to them,” she said. “We want to ensure that we’re encouraging good behavior. We know that most landlords are operating in good faith, but for those few bad actors, we want to make sure that our residents, our renters know what they can do in those incidences.”
She said it’s an especially important time to consider this proposal, as Austin has experienced a record-breaking number of consecutive days above 100 degrees this summer. She noted the city has a requirement for heating standards within residences, and the same code oversights should extend toward cooling infrastructure.
“We want to make sure that we codify this regulation and that we’re also notifying and educating our community about the rights that they have,” she said. “I heard from both my constituents now that this resolution has been posted, we’ve heard from Austinites all across the city. In fact, on Thursday, we’re gonna have testimony from Austinites about their experiences on this issue.”