Are Landlords Required to Provide Heating in Oregon?
A home is a place that’s supposed to meet your basic needs, regardless if you own the property or not. As temperatures outside drop, you might notice that you don’t feel as comfortable as you’d like because the heating system doesn’t work as well as it should. Before approaching your landlord about your heating and cooling issues, it’s good to know what your rights are to ensure your relationship remains civil. It is important to note that the information in this post should not be interpreted as legal advice. For expert guidance regarding your rental situation, consult with an attorney or your local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.
Oregon Landlord Laws about Heating and Cooling a Home
Section 90 of the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states a landlord must ensure a residential rental property is habitable. This means a rental property must provide tenants with essential services, including heat, electricity, locks on exterior doors, window latches, refrigerator, electricity, light fixtures, and cooking appliances. A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining essential services, not a property’s tenants. At the time of publication, the landlord laws in the act do not state property managers must provide cooling systems in residential rental properties.
Section 90.320 of the act outlines the ways a landlord must maintain a property in habitable condition during a tenancy. Oregon does not consider a rental property to be habitable if it lacks “adequate heating facilities that conform to applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good working order.” The act also states:
- The temperature in a rental unit should not be so low that it endangers the health of occupants.
- If the temperature outside is 20°F, the heating system should heat the home to at least 68°F. (If you choose to keep your home cooler than 68°F and the heating system works well, you are responsible for damages that occur.)
- The heating system should not put the home’s other facilities (e.g., pipes) at risk of freezing.
According to section 90.375, a landlord may not willfully diminish, attempt to diminish, or threaten to diminish essential services to make a tenant leave the premises. If this occurs, a tenant may:
- Obtain an injunctive relief, which is a court order to stop a specific act or behavior.-or –
- End the rental agreement and receive compensation that equals two times the amount of damages sustained by not having essential services available or up to two months’ periodic rent, whichever is greater. If a tenant ends the rental agreement, the landlord must return all security deposits and prepaid rent. A tenant does not have to terminate a rental agreement to recover damages or obtain an injunctive relief.
Renters are obligated to use heating and cooling equipment in a “reasonable manner,” according to section 90.325 of the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Using a heating system in a reasonable manner includes setting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature and ensuring the area around the heating equipment is clear to mitigate fire hazards.
A tenant may not accidentally or deliberately damage, impair, destroy or deface the heating system if it does not work. It’s best to have the landlord take care of heating system malfunctions rather than try to remedy them yourself.
It is crucial that a tenant advise a landlord regarding heating system problems as soon as possible. If a tenant waits too long or fails to provide notice, they are responsible for damages.
How to Ask a Landlord about Heating Improvements, Repairs and Options
- Refer to the rental agreement. The agreement should have step-by-step instructions about how to place a maintenance request. These steps may include calling the landlord or the property’s maintenance department, filling out a service request form, or submitting a request online.
- Send the landlord a notice in writing. In the notice, include the current date, the date the heat stopped working, observations you made regarding the heating system, and your contact information. Send the notice via certified mail. Keep a copy of the notice and mail receipt for your records.
If your landlord does not respond appropriately, you may ask your local code enforcement officer to inspect the home. If the specialist finds something wrong with the heating system, they will send a notice to your landlord. If landlord continues to ignore the problem, consult with an attorney regarding the next steps to take.
If the heating system doesn’t work well for your living situation, talk to your landlord. While they are under no obligation to replace equipment that works well, they may be willing to provide an alternative solution. The specialists at AAA Heating and Cooling are always happy to provide suggestions regarding energy-efficient home comfort solutions.
You don’t have to suffer through a cold winter. If the property you rent has heating-related problems, report the issue to your landlord as soon as possible as they’re required by law to provide adequate heating. Be sure to mention that AAA Heating and Cooling offers free estimates if they don’t already work with a specific contractor.