Under the SF Housing Code, all residential units, except for hotel rooms, must have a source of heating that can maintain a minimum room temperature of 70, as measured three feet off the ground in all habitable rooms except bathrooms and hallways. If the landlord provides that heat, it must be provided 24 hours a day.
In a residential hotel room, a landlord has to provide a heat source that can heat the room to 68 degrees from 5am to 11am and 3-10pm.
If the landlord does not provide the required heat during the required hours, a tenant can:
Write your landlord about the heat problem and keep a copy of your letter. Be sure to explain in the letter how long the problem has been going on and if you previously asked the manager/landlord to do something about it. This letter, along with a log of when your heat is working and when it isn’t, can serve as useful documentation should you have to go to the Rent Board (with a decrease in services) or Small Claims Court.
You can file a “Decrease in Services petition” at the San Francisco Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board ). You can only file this petition if you are covered under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.
You can notify the Department of Building Inspection about the heat problem, unless you suspect you live in an illegal unit (such as an in-law or a basement or garage apartment), in which case you should call us directly. If the inspector finds a heat violation, he/she will give your landlord a notice of violation to fix the problem.
You can leave a message on our counselor line Monday through Thursday 1-5pm (703-8644). Due to COVID-19, we are not actually in the office. A counselor will get back to you and you can ask about CEOP (Code Enforcement Outreach Program), a collaboration between DBI, the SF Apartment Association and four tenant groups. It’s another way of putting pressure on your landlord to fix the problem.
Finally, you can call the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) and ask for a housing inspector. Call between 7:30am and 3pm.