Know Your Heating Rights

Now that winter is here, it’s good to know a few things about your rights as a tenant. You don’t necessarily have to suffer or buy your own space heater if you find yourself living in an icebox this season. Or, if you do buy a heater, you may be able to deduct the cost from your next rent check!

Do a quick google for the heating laws in your city and you may be surprised by what you find. For example, in NYC, landlords must provide adequate heat between October 1 and May 31 each year. So, if you get a freak snow storm in April, don’t let your landlord tell you that the season for heat is over. There are also specific rules about the temperature that your apartment should stay above.

In Boston, the landlord must provide you with heat from Sept. 16 to June 14th each year. For Boston, 68 degrees during the day and 64 at night is the law. Also, there is a maximum heat of 78 degrees fahrenheit that is allowed in each room.

If you can see your own breath while you’re reading this, your first step would be to contact your landlord or super and let them know the problem. At that time ask them if they would cover the cost of your buying a space heater for the time being. If the heating problem is not fixed, there is usually a city department that you should report the building to. Also, read your lease! It could be that if your landlord is breaking the law, that you can withhold rent. Now, don’t get too excited. This doesn’t mean free money for you at the end of the month. It just means keeping that money aside and only paying it once the heating problem is fixed. Take a look at your own lease to find out what rights you may have.

Here’s to hoping you’re only bundling up outside this winter season!

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