As the weather turns colder, many people worry how to pay for the heat in their homes. The price of gas, electricity, and oil is up while income is down. If you’re renting, check your lease to see who is responsible for the utility bills for your rental. While under most leases the tenant is responsible for heat, sometimes heat is included in the rent. But how much heat does a landlord need to provide?
In New Jersey, law provides that from October 1 of each year to the next succeeding May 1, every unit of dwelling space and every habitable room shall be maintained at a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. and at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 11:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M.
If you have a landlord who under the lease is responsible for the heat, but either keeps the heat below the reasonable temperature or simply does not provide the heat at all – contact your landlord and demand that the service be provided. Before you complain, however, check the room temperature for a few hours. If it regularly reads at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. and at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 11:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M, then you have no right to complain. If, however, the temperature goes below, notify the landlord immediately. If the landlord fails to provide the minimum heat within a reasonable time, contact the Department of Health and the Housing Inspector for assistance in getting heat. Both these departments have the ability to put pressure on the landlord.