When the Landlord Doesn’t Provide Heat:Surviving the Chill

It goes into the important topic of resident’s rights and heating regulations. This informative guide aims to help rentals understand their rights. what actions they can take if facing a lack of heating in their rental property. Do you know who’s supposed to make sure that never happens? Your landlord. That’s the person you and your family pay rent to each month. Part of their responsibilities is making sure you always have working heat to stay warm and toasty when winter arrives.

Have you ever been cold at home? Like walking around wearing your coat and mittens kind of cold? That’s no fun at all. Feeling frozen in your own house or apartment is one of the most uncomfortable situations imaginable

The resource sheds light on a variety of legal perspectives and practical tips. During the cold winter months, landlords may leave residents without heat for an extended period of time. By providing clarity on these issues, residents can better advocate for themselves. They ensure their living conditions are safe and comfortable. Let’s get started on this journey together to learn more about staying warm and informed in your rental home.

A Chilly Situation

You’ve been wearing multiple layers for days. And no matter how high you set the temperature in your home. There’s still no heat coming through the vents. This can’t be good. Looks like your landlord has a bit of an issue on their hands when it comes to providing heat. But how long are they allowed to leave you shivering like this?

Know Your Rights as a Renter

When you rent an apartment or house, the landlord has certain responsibilities to make sure the place is safe and livable. This includes making repairs in a reasonable timeframe when something major breaks down  like the heating system. 

It Varies By Location

The exact rules on providing heat can vary depending on where you live. But in most areas, once the temperature drops below a certain point. Landlords must supply poor heat to rental units or face consequences.

In some states, if it hits below 65°F during the day or 60°F overnight for an extended period. Your landlord is legally required to restore the heat immediately. Other areas have different defined temperature thresholds for when heat is considered an emergency need.

Reasonable Timeframes

So if your landlord fails to turn the heat back on within a day or two of it going out. They are likely violating housing regulations where you live. Most areas give landlords a reasonably short window to make heating repairs. But they can’t just leave you freezing permanently.

Know Your Rights as a Renter

Calling in Reinforcements

Of course, the first step when you find yourself in an apartment with no heat. So, it is to notify the landlord or property manager right away. Give them a courteous heads up. Also gives a fair chance to address the heating issue before taking further action.  

Submit Requests in Writing

But if the landlord drags their feet for too long, you may need to turn up the heat (no intended). Try submitting an official repair request in writing. Letting them know the situation is unacceptable. Most rental laws require you to give the landlord written notice before hitting them with a rent escrow or lawsuit.

From there, you can explore other options like contacting local housing code inspectors or nonprofit rental advocacy groups in your area. An official third-party inspection could be the wake-up call. Your landlord needs to make heating repairs a top priority.

Finding Temporary Solutions

While the legal situation gets sorted out, you’ll likely need some creative ways to survive those extra chilly days and nights at home. Time to get resourceful. 

Layer Up

Break out all the cozy sweaters, fuzzy socks, and blanket forts you can find. Creating insulating layers directly on your body can help conserve your body’s natural warmth. Don’t be afraid to dress like you’re in the Arctic indoors if needed.

Block Out Drafts

For added insulation, go around your rental and seal up any drafty window cracks, outlets, or door frames letting cold air inside. Simple draft blockers made from towels or foam can go a long way. You can also hang up thick blankets over drafty windows temporarily.

Embrace Portable Heaters 

If you can safely operate a portable space heater (double checking for fire hazards first). These can provide wonderful warm pockets of relief. Just avoid using your gas stove, oven, or grill for heat carbon monoxide dangers.

Cuddle Up 

Need to defrost your toes? Invite some friends over and cuddle up together on the couch. There is a surprising amount of warmth created by the body heat radiating from a pile of people. Just another excuse for extra human blankets. 

Powerful Times, Powerful Measures

In truly desperate situations, you may need to crash with family. At a friend’s toasty place, or even a hotel for a couple nights to escape the chill. Make sure to document everything for proof if you need to dispute charges later with your landlord.

When Enough Is Enough

While temporary heating alternatives can help in a pinch, landlords simply can’t leave rental out in the cold indefinitely. There are limits to how long they can reasonably take to restore heat.

Rent Withholding 

In many areas, if the unit goes without poor heat for over a week after written notice to the landlord. The rentals may have grounds to legally withhold rent payments until the issue gets resolved. This sends a clear message that the lack of heat violates their rental agreement.

Breaking the Lease

Depending on landlord-rental laws where you live. It extended periods without heat could even allow you to break the lease without penalty and terminate your rental agreement early. No one should be forced to live in dangerously freezing conditions for too long.

Taking It to Court

As a last resort, you may need to take your landlord. This shows your small claims court to recover rental costs paid during any extended periods without heat. Having documentation of all communications, repair requests, and withholdings will be key evidence.

Your Health and Safety First

At the end of the day, a lack of sufficient heat creates serious health and safety issues that must be addressed. Homes without enough warmth increase the danger of hypothermia, a cold, and even respiratory problems caused by mold and mildew collection.

Temporary chilly inconveniences are unpleasant. Long periods without heat are considered an emergency. landlords must respond fast. Don’t let a careless property owner force you to live in poor conditions. 

As a renter, you have housing rights that legally guarantee you a warm, comfortable, and safe environment all year. If the landlord fails to uphold their half of the agreement. Discover your local rights as a renter and don’t be scared to advocate for yourself. Because at the end of the day, you deserve to chill out peacefully.


How quickly must landlords fix no-heat issues?

Most areas require landlords to restore heat within 1-2 days once notified if indoor temps drop below 60-65°F. They can’t leave you freezing for too long.

What if my landlord doesn’t turn the heat back on in time?  

You may be able to legally withhold some or all of your rent payment until the heating is fixed. Having no heat violates rental agreements.

Can I use a space heater if my heat is out?

Yes, space heaters can provide quick warmth. Just follow all safety rules keep away from flammable things and never leave them unattended.

How can I stop cold drafts when the heat is out?

Use towels or blankets to seal up drafty windows, door cracks, and electrical outlets where cold air gets in. Get creative with blocking those leaks.

How many layers of clothes should I wear indoors?

As many as it takes. Pile on the sweaters, socks, hats, and blankets to trap your body heat inside. It’s like being a walking huggable marshmallow.

Is it safe to use my oven for extra heat?

No way. Never use a kitchen oven or stove to heat your home, as this releases dangerous carbon monoxide gas. Only use space heaters safely.

Can I go stay somewhere else with heat?

If it gets extremely cold for too long, it may be safest to crash at a friend or family’s warm place for a couple of nights. Just document everything.

How cold is too cold for kids?

Prolonged periods below 55°F can potentially lead to issues like hypothermia or respiratory illness for little ones. Their safety comes first.

What proof do I need if taking the landlord to court?

Save all written repair requests, time-stamped videos showing temperatures, copies of texts/emails, receipts from hotels or heaters you purchased, etc.

Is lack of heat considered an emergency?

Yes. After a few days with no heat, most areas deem it an emergency requiring the landlord to fix it or face penalties and potential lawsuits.


In conclusion, residents must be aware of their rights regarding heating in rental properties. By understanding the laws and regulations, residents can take the best action if faced with poor heating from their landlord. Remember, everyone deserves a safe and warm living environment, especially during the colder months. 

Stay informed, and communicate effectively with your landlord. You will seek help from authorities if needed to ensure your well-being. Let this guide empower you to navigate any heating challenges you may encounter as a tenant. Stay warm, stay safe, and remember that your comfort matters. Thank you for joining us on this journey of “Surviving the Chill.”

Leave a Comment