Watch CBS News

Tenants Left In Cold By Landlords Who Don't Provide Sufficient Heat

Chicago (CBS) -- When it's this cold outside, many people choose to stay inside, but hundreds of people living in Chicago say their rental apartments and homes are offering little relief from the brutal winter blast.

Demetrius Stewart says his apartment hasn't had sufficient heat since December, but it's been almost unbearable this week.

"Coming home to a cold house is definitely uncomfortable," Stewart said. "(It) might be 15 degrees in here, 15 to 20 degrees."

Stewart doesn't know how cold it is because there's no temperature reading on his thermostat, but it's cold enough that he needs three heaters to heat his home.

He first complained about the lack of heat in December. He says the landlord sent people out twice, but they didn't fix the problem.

"They haven't contacted me since," Stewart said.

So, Stewart turned to the city, and he's not alone.

He and many others who call 311 are referred to the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, which says it's received hundreds of calls for help.

"Almost every person calling right now is calling about a heat-related issue," Philip Devon of MTO said.

According to MTO, renters have options when landlords don't provide adequate heat. They include using a portion of their rent to buy space heaters and, in extreme cases, renters can go to a hotel and deduct the cost from their rent or even terminate their lease.

"But these are all things that require a specific letter and specific documentation," Devon said. "That's why we urge tenants to contact us so that we can advise them which documentation they need to create."

Given health issues and the continuing cold temperatures, Stewart plans to stay with his parents for now. He's also working with MTO to get out of his lease.

Stewart's landlord did not respond to requests for comment.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.