With temperatures hovering at or below freezing in Philadelphia, everyone, including tenants of rental units and homes, need to come home to a properly heated residence. The Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code states that landlords are responsible for ensuring that your heat is working properly from the first of October through the 30th of April. Let's look at the particulars of the city rental housing code and how it supports your legal right to have working utilities in your rental housing.
Heating systems in rental properties need to be able to sustain a minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit at all times throughout the seven month period stated by the code. This means that all livable rooms and bathrooms must maintain a required temperature level, not just a central room with a source of heat. When it gets frigid outside, it is important for the health and safety of everyone in your home to have sufficient heat, especially young children and the elderly.
If the Heat Isn't On
If you discover that your housing doesn't have a functional heating source, or there's no permanent furnace installed, here are some steps you can take to correct the situation.
• Call your landlord and request that he or she take action to restore heating to adequate levels. Make sure to document any phone calls to your landlord in writing.
• Send a letter or email to your landlord about the situation and request repairs or the installation of a permanent heating system.
• If your landlord still does not address the situation, file a report with the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.
Respond to Retaliation
There are many instances where a landlord will retaliate against a tenant for reporting a violation of the rental housing code. The Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission addresses the fact that it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate for making a complaint about a property. It is against the law for your landlord to turn off your utilities, change the lock, or even threaten to evict you after you have filed a complaint.
If you have experienced retaliation, remember that the law protects your right to adequate housing and there are resources to help you.