The good news is that heat is considered a basic essential service (as is running water, hot water, electricity, gas and plumbing) in Chicago under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. (Please note that the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance doesn’t apply to owner-occupied buildings containing six units or less.) Per the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, from September 15th to June 1st, rental units must be supplied with heat in order to achieve the following minimum temperatures:
- 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.
If your rental unit is not supplied with heat according to the above minimum requirements you have several remedies available to you:
- You must provide written notice to the landlord specifying that the heat isn’t complying with the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. The notice should be mailed or delivered to the address at which notices to the landlord are to be received (check your lease for this information). If you do not have that information then you are supposed to send it by mail to the last known address of the landlord.
- After providing written notice, if your landlord has not remedied the situation, you as the tenant may have a repair person fix the heat and deduct the cost of the repair from your rent, provided you give paid receipts to the landlord. Or you can recover damages based on the reduction in the fair rental value of the unit or find substitute housing, in which case you are excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance. You may recover the cost of the substitute housing up to an equal amount of the prorated rent for the period you could not living in your rented unit.
- If the landlord doesn’t restore your heat within 72 hours of receiving your written notice, you have the right to terminate your lease. If that is your desire, you need to send another written notice to your landlord after the 72 hour period notifying him/her that you have terminated the lease pursuant to the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance heat provision.
But what happens if your heat is working, but it’s just not warm enough? Record the temperature in your apartment three times a day for a week. If these recordings show that your apartment is below the minimum requirements set above, send your landlord a letter stating that he/she is violating the Chicago Municipal Code and must increase the temperature in your apartment. If he/she doesn’t comply with this demand, call the City’s Heat Hotline at 312/744-5000.
Still have questions?
Check out this great FAQ from the Metropolitan Tenants Organization on heat and other essential services
Call the City Heat Hotline at 312/744-5000
Disclaimer: we are not lawyers and the above are our interpretations of the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. Please consult with your lawyer or the appropriate city authority for legal advice.