What If The Heat Goes Out In Your First Apartment?

Remember the good old days when something broke and an adult would fix it for you? Well, now you’re the adult and the heat has died in your first apartment. It’s OK, you’ve got this right?

Absolutely! Just follow these simple steps.

Cold First Apartment

Step 1. Get the Essential Info

Before you call the landlord or building manager, you need to know exactly what’s going on. They may need slightly more information than, “It’s freezing in here! Help!”

If You’re Renting a House:

Go look at the furnace, which should be in a closet or basement. See if you can find a furnace on/off switch on the wall or on the ceiling somewhere in the area.

You would be amazed how often these switches are accidentally bumped into the “off” position by pets or people carrying loads of laundry. If you’re lucky, that’s the problem and flipping it back to “on” will light the furnace back up again. You should see and hear it click back on right away.

But, if that’s not what happened, try to take note of the following things:

  • Is the furnace making any noises, or is it simply “dead?”
  • Are there any smells or anything unusual in the area?
  • Look at the lights on the front and take note if they’re flashing, solid or off

Knowing these things will help you and your landlord understand exactly what is happening.

If You’re Renting an Apartment:

If you’re in an apartment building or condo, your troubleshooting list will be a lot shorter.

First of all, make note of what’s happening. Is there cold air blowing through the vents, or nothing at all? If there’s a thermostat in your apartment, make note of what it says.

Step 2. Call Your Landlord or Building Manager

Now that you’ve got all the right info, call your landlord, superintendent, or building manager. They will either call a local HVAC services expert or give you the number to call yourself, but they need to know what’s going on.

It’s important to know that it’s your landlord’s responsibility to make sure your heat works, even if you’re the one paying the gas or hydro bills yourself. They own (or manage) the property, which means making sure your furnace and/or baseboard heaters work.

Know your rights as a tenant! You shouldn’t be on the hook to pay the cost of the repairs or any new equipment, even if they try to tell you otherwise.

What if the Heat Works, But it’s Still Too Cold?

Your landlord is legally obligated to keep your home at an acceptably warm level over the cold months.

However, landlords and tenants sometimes disagree over what is warm enough. In a lot of cases, you may see disagreements such as:

Landlord: “The thermostat says the apartment is 21° C. That’s warm enough.”
Tenant: “The thermostat is wrong. I brought in a thermometer that says it’s actually 15°C in here”

Be polite when you tell your landlord that your apartment is too cold, and never assume they’re out to get you. However, document all of your calls and emails just to be on the safe side. If you still don’t feel that they’re doing their part, you can call 311 in most areas to register a complaint with the city.

Never try to fix anything on your own, or open the furnace and look inside. Let the professionals handle it. Now that you’ve called the right people, grab something warm to drink and wait for them to show up and work their magic.

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