In the case of an oil delivery, if the landlord has a back bill and the oil company will not deliver oil unless it is paid, the tenant is at risk of the oil running out and thus the heat being shut-off. Although the Anti-Eviction Act does not specifically refer to oil, it still provides help to the tenant if a tenant’s lease makes clear that the landlord is responsible to supply the oil for heat, but does not. Again, the tenant must first contact the landlord. If the landlord fails to respond, the tenant should contact the landlord’s oil company to arrange for delivery, and use the rent money to pay for it when it is delivered. The tenant should ask for a letter from the oil company verifying that the oil was out, or about to run out, and get a receipt showing the tenant paid for a delivery. Using this receipt for payment (using rent money) and the lease as well as the company letter if one is obtained, the tenant has the evidence needed to show that he or she used all or some portion of the rent not given to the landlord to continue the oil heat after either running out of oil, or being about to run out based on nonpayment by the landlord or non-response.
No matter what the source of the heat is, if it is the landlord’s responsibility under the lease, you must first contact the landlord to try to get the problem resolved. Only after attempts to work it out with the landlord have clearly failed, you can use your rent money to pay for the heat. Don’t forget you must keep the proofs just in case the landlord tries to evict you for non-payment of rent.
Note that even if the tenant is responsible to pay for their own heat, the owner is still obligated to maintain the heating system in good operating condition so that it can supply heat as required under the rule.
End of article.