New Oregon Renters Law Gives Right To AC

In 2022, a law was passed to allow renters the right to air conditioning. Not all landlords are happy about it. Some are still fighting it through fines and notices. The Oregon State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1536, protecting renters’ rights to AC, following last year’s heat dome.

Some landlords do not know about the new law. Some tenants are being told not to put window AC units in their homes. That is no longer the case due to the new law. Many in the Portland metro area is trying to cool off from the heat wave, but some are having to overcome obstacles with their landlords when it comes to air conditioning. 

Tenants were threatened with a $50 fine if they installed window units. Some residents contacted a tenants’ rights attorney to ask if it was legal. A legal expert said window units can be installed, however, the law does allow some instances where window units can’t be installed, but it’s best to see what your rental agreement is and read up on the law.

One attorney told the news media that landlord can say, you can’t use an air conditioner if it overloads the building’s electrical systems, you might not be able to install an air conditioner if it would somehow violate a historic building. The best thing to do is ask a lawyer that specializes in landlord-tenant issues, or go to an organization like Community Alliance of Tenants for help.

Oregon began doing it’s part to help needed residents needing AC units. The Oregon Health Authority began distributing air conditioning units to Oregonians most at risk for heat-related illness amid record setting temperatures this week. The health authority worked with the Oregon Department of Human Services to deliver hundreds of portable air conditioning units to community service providers — including distribution of 500 air conditioners just last weekend.

A delivery of 80 air conditioning units is unloaded at the Portland Open Bible Community Pantry in Southeast Portland on Monday, July 25. The units were purchased by the Oregon Health Authority with a $5 million allocation from the Legislature.

After the units were delivered to Portland Open Bible Community Pantry in Southeast Portland, they were distributed by several community-based organization partners, some also helping with installation. The state is expecting to distribute 3,000 units this summer, and will continue to work with community organizations to distribute air conditioners to individuals this week.