Chicago Heat ordinance now in effect as temperatures fall

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Landlords face heavy fines for not supplying adequate heat

Crusader Staff Report

Chicago’s heating ordinance is now in effect as forecasters predict temperatures to dip in the low 40s this week. With the coronavirus pandemic, struggling landlords must still provide adequate heating for tenants.

According to the Department of Buildings, which enforces the Chicago Building Code’s heat ordinance, during cold weather months landlords must supply heat to rental units or to any unit where owners do not have individual control of the heat.

From September 15 through June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Landlords face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation, for each day they do not supply adequate heat. The reason for lack of heat does not matter — landlords must follow the law, and apartments must be heated.

If you are a renter and your landlord is not providing adequate heat or no heat at all, you may file a complaint via CHI 311 website or mobile app or by calling 311. The Department of Buildings will inspect the unit and take action against delinquent owners. Renters are protected from retaliation through the city’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.

With more than 60 percent of Chicagoans living in rental housing, Rents Right provides landlords and tenants with assistance in meeting their legal obligations and exercising their rights. Rents Right provides mediation for landlords and tenants to resolve disputes in an informal and non-adversarial manner.

The Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance governs the majority of residential rental agreements in Chicago.

Housing advocates say knowing your rights and responsibilities is key to a good rental relationship. They also say the tenant and the landlord should know each other’s expectations in the lease agreement. Whether you’re a tenant or landlord, there are laws that spell out your rights and responsibilities.

Many landlords in Chicago are struggling to maintain buildings with few tenants paying their rent during the coronavirus pandemic. Many landlords have been unable to evict tenants because of a federal moratorium.

There are also a growing number of reports that non-paying tenants are being threatened with lockouts where landlords change the locks of the apartments without informing the tenants.

Many landlords are seeking city, county and state grants to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

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