Home heating help for tenants
HEATING LAWS FOR RENTERS
You have a right to be comfortable in the winter. If you're a tenant, your landlord must:
- provide a heating system that can heat to a minimum 68 degrees during the day and 64 degrees at night from September 15 to June 15
- make sure your hot water is between 110-130 degrees
- give you access to the basement if your breakers, utility meters, or oil tanks are there, and
- give you 24-hour notice if they're coming over to make non-emergency repairs.
- Learn more about your rights when buying oil heat.
- Read about heating your home more efficiently, and find tips for saving on your energy bills.
- Neighborhood Development has a program to help seniors replace or repair heating systems.
- The Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership also offers heating help.
Problems with heat
If there's a problem, you should tell your landlord right away. In the meantime:
- Check your thermostat and make sure it's on.
- Make sure you have oil in your tank if you have oil heat.
- If you have gas heat, call the gas company and check to see if you're still getting service.
- If your landlord doesn't respond to your calls, contact Inspection Services at 617-635-5322. If it's after normal business hours, contact BOS:311.
OTHER HEATING LAWS
Certain people are eligible for shut-off protection to prevent utilities from shutting off your services. You can call your utility company to sign up for shut-off protection. The following people are eligible:
- senior citizens
- low-income families with infants
- people with serious illnesses who can't pay their bills
- tenants whose landlords pay utilities, and
- low-income people who would be without heat in the winter.
Get help paying for heat
If you are eligible for fuel assistance, you may be able to get a discounted rate on your utilities through your provider. You also qualify for a discount if:
- your income is at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level, and
- you are part of an income-based benefit program, liked food stamps or Mass. Health.
Find out if you're eligible for the National Grid R-2 low income rate. Eversource Electric also offers discounted rates to qualifying people. Find out if you're eligible.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will help you pay your heating bill based on your income. They help people that are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The program pays the bills directly to your utility company during the winter months, from November to April.
Homeowners and renters are both welcome to apply through the program. Learn how to apply for fuel assistance.
There are various types of assistance for people with oil heat. Oil co-ops offer discounts to members, along with other services. For more information, visit the Mass. Energy Consumers Alliance website or call 617-524-3950, or call the Comfort Crafted Oil Buying Network at 1-800-649-7473.
Notice about oil heat
The City makes sure residents are treated fairly by oil dealers. By law, oil companies must give you a receipt when they deliver your oil. The receipt needs to include:
- the name of the oil dealer
- your name
- the price per gallon, and
- a meter stamp of how much oil was delivered.