In July, one furious Redditor shared a news article in the ironically-named r/LandlordLove subreddit. Apparently, during the hottest summer on record, landlords in British Columbia, Canada (B.C.) are threatening tenants with potential eviction if they install air conditioning, the magazine Jacobin reported.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the next five years will likely be the hottest in history due to air pollution raising the planet’s average temperature. High temperatures are dangerous, potentially causing dehydration, heat stroke, and worsening of existing health conditions in those who are exposed.
Jacobin further reported that in 2021, when B.C. experienced a heat dome, it caused 619 deaths, 98% of which happened indoors. The people most deeply affected were low-income households without access to air conditioning, a group that makes up about 36% of the Canadian population.
To prevent that from happening again, the province created a program to fund air conditioning installation for at-risk populations. Unfortunately, low-income individuals are more likely to be renters than homeowners — and their landlords aren’t having it.
According to Jacobin, many landlords in the area threatened rent increases or eviction for tenants who install air conditioning. The property owners are concerned about the increased cost of electricity to power the units, the possibility of leaks that could damage buildings, and the strain the extra load would place on outdated wiring.
But the tenants are worried they may get sick or die from the heat, which is a much more important concern.
Commenters on the Reddit post were not impressed with the landlords’ threats and the state of the country’s housing.
“One of the biggest countries in the world, with vast land around metropolitan areas, yet facing one of the worst housing crises in history,” complained one user.
“It’s by design, man,” replied another commenter. “Their friends in high places keep a necessary thing like roofs over our heads scarce. So they can keep raising the prices.”
“Do the landlords have AC in their own homes?” questioned a third. “Why would it be OK for them to need it but not the people they charge rent and derive their income from? Tenants who die from heat exhaustion can’t pay rent, you’d think this would be a no-brainer.”
According to Jacobin, measures have been proposed that would protect renters from the heat, such as amending the building code. However, there is an ongoing battle over the change, with landlords digging in their heels to avoid paying a single cent to protect renters’ lives.
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