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Must a Landlord Provide Heat?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

It's pretty cold outside, which means it's time to turn on the heat.

But alas, it doesn't work. You've asked your landlord to fix it, but he hasn't. What do you do? Must landlords provide heat?

They don't have to pay for it, but they must usually provide a way for you to heat the unit. Tenants are generally entitled to heat under the implied warranty of habitability -- an unwritten promise that requires residential landlords to maintain the premises.

And when the warranty doesn't apply, local law probably does.

Most local housing and rental codes direct landlords to provide heat. The rules vary as to temperature, time of year and time of day, but they do exist.

New York City, for example, requires heat from October 31 to May 31. The inside temperature must reach 68 degrees between 6 and 10 p.m. Late at night, the rental unit must reach at least 55 degrees.

San Francisco requires heat all year, which must reach 68 degrees between the hours of 5 and 11 a.m. and 3 and 10 p.m.

So, what do you do if your landlord won't provide -- or fix -- the heat?

You have a few options. You could call code enforcement. It may take a few weeks to schedule an inspection, but your landlord will hopefully respond to such an action.

You could also buy a few space heaters or fix the furnace and deduct the expenditure from your rent. This is called a "repair and deduct," and you should probably notify your landlord first.

And if life without landlord provided heat gets really bad, you may be able to terminate your lease.

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