Heat is an essential housing service that a landlord is required by law to provide to all tenants. The San Francisco Housing Code requires that a permanent heating source be provided that is capable of maintaining a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit in all habitable rooms, excluding bathrooms and hallways. The Housing Code specifically requires this level of heat to be provided 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 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.
To receive a copy of the Tenant Petition form, you can fax it to yourself through our Fax Back system by calling 252-4660 or visit our website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard. The form is also available at our office.