LAMONT, Calif. (KERO) — Although many would argue that air conditioning is a necessity when you live with constant heat waves, California law disagrees. In California, a heating system is a requirement for all rental units, but air conditioning is considered an amenity and is not needed for a rental unit to meet state habitability laws.
For many households, including the Garcia family in Lamont, a lack of air conditioning during 100+ degree days means there's fans running in every room.
"All day and all night, and you know the cost to run these things is a pretty penny," Mario Garcia says about the fans. "Especially now with the rate of electricity going up, it costs more to even run them."
According to census data, more than half of the population in Lamont are renters. If those renters moved into a unit with air conditioning already installed, their landlord or property manager is legally obligated to maintain the air conditioning, but for families like the Garcias, the landlord is under no obligation to install air conditioning.
Kassie Mullican, Communications Coordinator for Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, reminds renters that there are options beyond central air for cooling down the great indoors.
"You cannot install a permanent AC unit into your rental facility, unless you have the written permission of the landlord, but you are able to get other things like window ACs and rolling ACs and things like that," says Mulligan. This too, however, will raise household energy costs.
"It's better off to have an AC unit because it takes care of a whole house and you have one cost, as to having three rooms and having three AC's and it costs a pretty penny," said Garcia. He hopes the landlord's requirement to provide air conditioning changes.
"Let's go back to the drawing board, maybe we can do something better of our community and for our people to feel more comfortable, especially in this weather."