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State Rep. discusses apartment heating laws after tenants are left with no A/C

The air conditioning has not been turned on and they have been experiencing some hot temperatures over the last week.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News is getting answers after several viewers reached out to our newsroom concerned about conditions in their Springfield apartment building.

The air conditioning has not been turned on and they have been experiencing some hot temperatures over the last week.

We were told that state law requires landlords to keep the heat on until June 15th, and because this building can only have air conditioning or heat on at one time, it has left residents facing what they call unbearable conditions.

Western Mass News dug deeper to learn more about this law.

“They have to amend or repeal that because it’s extremely too hot,” said tenant Frank Roman.

He told Western Mass News that his apartment reached more than 100 degrees in the warm weather Monday, and Indian Motorcycle Apartments are not turning on the A/C.

President of the building’s management company told us in part, quote:

" I totally understand the residents’ desire to turn on their A/C when we have a hot day as we did yesterday. We normally experience these requests on the ‘shoulder’ months (spring and fall) when we are required to provide heat under state law.”

He went on to say:

“As you can see, today is a chilly day and heat is required. It is our hope that as we get closer to June, we can turn on the A/C chillers prior to June 15, as it gets warmer outside.”

We caught up with State Representative Bud Williams to learn more. Last June when tenants were experiencing similar issues, he told us he planned to call on the state’s Secretary of Housing and Economic Development to look at this issue, but as of now, the law still stands.

“We looked at it,” said Representative Williams. “We tried to, but the state had no appetite to change it.”

We asked him why this law is in place to begin with.

“What we were finding out years ago is that a lot of landlords were shutting heat off a little early, a little prematurely, so laws were put in place to make sure that tenants had heat until June 15,” Representative Williams told us.

He said that it does not prohibit landlords from turning on the A/C, but because most units only have one system, they would not be able to turn the heat back on, which could cause problems in a New England spring.

“Last night, it was in the 30s and 40s, so it’s a tough call,” Representative Williams said.

He added that he does have concerns for people with asthma and other respiratory problems when it becomes really hot.

The president of the First Resource Development Company told us that in-window air conditioning units are not allowed in the building as the windows do not open far enough, but they said in part, quote:

“In the meantime, we are encouraging residents to open their windows and use fans and/or portable floor air conditioners. For residents that are unable to purchase, we have been loaning out these units.”