Heat is an essential housing service that a landlord is required by law to provide to all tenants. The San Francisco Housing Code, as amended January 20, 2020, establishes minimum heating requirements for residential rental units. In all residential rental units except for hotel rooms, the San Francisco Housing Code requires that a permanent heating source be provided that is capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit at a point three feet above the floor in all habitable rooms, excluding bathrooms and hallways. When the heating facilities are not under the control of the tenant, the landlord must provide that heat 24 hours a day. If the rental unit is a residential hotel room, the landlord must provide a permanent heating source capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit for 13 hours a day, from 5 AM to 11 AM and also from 3 PM to 10 PM. The landlord does not comply with these heating requirements by allowing or providing portable space heaters.
If the landlord does not provide the minimum amount of heat and/or an approved heating system, the tenant should contact a building inspector at the Department of Building Inspection. If the landlord is not in compliance with the heating requirements, the inspector will issue a Notice of Violation ordering the landlord to provide adequate heat with an approved heating source within a certain period of time.
If a landlord fails to provide adequate heat after being requested to do so by the tenant and/or a building inspector, the tenant may file a Tenant Petition at the Rent Board for a rent reduction based on a substantial decrease in housing services. If a rent increase notice was received within the previous 60 days, the tenant may also request deferral of the proposed rent increase by filing a Tenant Petition based on the landlord’s failure to repair. The Rent Board can only adjust the tenant’s rent for the landlord’s failure to provide heat—the Rent Board cannot order the landlord to provide or restore heat.
For more information on contacting the Department of Building Inspection, you may view and/or download a copy of our current referral listing. To obtain a copy of the tenant petition form, click here or visit the Forms Center on our website. These documents are also available at our office.
Tags: Topic 257