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Keeping Tenants Warm: The DC Housing Code on Heat

The temperature is about to drop and stay cold for at least a week. That always means disagreements between landlords and tenants about whether or not rental properties are being kept warm enough. Luckily, the DC Housing Code is extremely specific. The temperature in DC residential rental units where the temperature is not controlled by the tenant must be at least 68 degrees between 6:30am and 11pm and at least 65 degrees the rest of the time. If the temperature is controlled by the tenant the heat system must be able to maintain 70 degrees. So what happens when DC landlords and tenants disagree about the heat? If the parties end up in court the judge often wants to know the heating system is being regularly serviced, so keep your service records. A housing inspector will test the temperature of the rooms and will issue an emergency violation if the heat doesn't meet the code. Giving the tenant a space heater usually isn't considered a solution but when weather is as cold as it is going to be in the next week, getting a furnace serviced can be very difficult, so a temporary solution is better than doing nothing. Showing the court or housing inspector that you are doing everything you can is vital to avoiding a fine. On a related issue, remember property owners must clear sidewalks and walkways of snow within the eight hours of daylight following the snow stopping. Hang in there, it will be spring before you know it.

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