In the middle of this cold winter, our office wants to ensure that every District resident knows their rights when it comes to heating and staying warm in their apartments. The law is clear: No one should be stuck in the cold inside their apartments.
The right to heat
- Housing providers, including apartment landlords, in the District must maintain minimum temperature (in all habitable rooms, bathrooms and toilet rooms) of 68° F between 6:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. and 65° F between 11:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. from October 1 to May 1.
- Violations of the law can contribute to the evidence my office needs to file a lawsuit against a negligent landlord. Last week, our office sued two landlords, one in Ward 2 and one in Ward 5, which both violated tenant rights to adequate temperature controls. Among other serious problems, the landlord of King Towers allowed tenants to go without heat for a week, and the landlords in Ward 5 provided heat for tenants for only three days during a 32-day period in November and December 2021. That meant the tenants relied on space heaters, which can be a fire hazard and expensive, since the tenants pay the electric bills for their apartments.
- These violations of the law are unacceptable, and our office is committed to standing up for tenants and ensuring they are able to be safe in their homes.
The right to inspections and carbon monoxide detectors
- Landlords are also required to have a qualified professional test the efficiency and adequacy of the heating and hot water systems annually, and have the flues, vents, and dampers be inspected once a year carbon monoxide leaks. If you’re wondering whether your building complies, you can ask to see the inspection and service reports which should be on site in the building operator’s office.
- These inspections can prevent tragedies. Last week, five District residents were hospitalized because of a carbon monoxide leak in their furnace, which went unnoticed because the apartment building did not have carbon monoxide detectors.
- Please, take a moment to check your carbon monoxide detectors today.
How to Report Unsafe Living Conditions
If you believe your landlord is not making needed repairs or not providing the winter heating the law requires, or if you believe your health and safety are in danger, you can request an inspection from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs at: