According to Section 701 (c) of the San Francisco Housing Code, the landlord must provide heat capable of maintaining a room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit at a point three feet above the floor, based upon an exterior temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat must be made available to each occupied habitable unit for thirteen hours each day, between the hours of 5:00 am and 11:00 am and between 3:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
Chapter XII, Part II of San Francisco’s Municipal Code states that it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide and maintain minimum heat requirements in residential hotels and apartments. If the landlord neglects this responsibility the tenant should notify the Department of Building Inspection about the heat problems, unless you suspect you live in an illegal unit (such as an in-law or a basement or garage apartment), then call us directly. If the inspector finds a heat violation, he/she will give your landlord a notice of violation to fix the problem. If you have difficulty in getting the required minimum heat in your apartment you can:
Notify your landlord in writing of the heat problem and keep a copy of your letter. Be sure to explain in the letter how long the problem has been going on and when (if ever) you last asked the manager/landlord to do something about the problem. This letter, along with a log of when your heat is working and when it isn’t, can serve as useful documentation for getting your problem solved through the Rent Board or Small Claims Court.
Call our counselor line Monday through Thursday 1-5pm (703-8644) and talk to a counselor about the CEOP (Code Enforcement Outreach Program), a collaboration between DBI, the SF Apartment Association and four tenant groups. Through the program, we can try and help you with the heat problem by putting direct pressure on your landlord.
Call the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) at (415) 558-6220 and ask to have an inspector come out to document the problem. Call between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. to talk to your inspector directly. Remember to ask your inspector for a copy of any violation notice he/she writes to the landlord, and make sure to follow up with the inspector if your landlord does not get the heat working soon.
If your landlord still refuses to fix the problem, you may want to file a “Decrease in Services petition” at the San Francisco Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board (see the section on Repairs for more information). You can only file this petition if you are covered under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance (your building was built before 1979 and has more than one unit, even if that unit is illegal).