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Notify your landlord in writing of 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 when (if ever) you last asked the manager/landlord to do something about the problem. This letter, along with a log of when your heat is working and when it isn't, can serve as useful documentation for getting your problem solved through the Rent Board or Small Claims Court.
Call our counselor line Monday through Thursday 1-5pm (703-8644) and talk to a counselor about the CEOP (Code Enforcement Outreach Program), a collaboration between DBI, the SF Apartment Association and four tenant groups. Through the program, we can try and help you with the heat problem.
Call the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) at (415) 558-6220 and ask to have an inspector come out to document the problem. Call between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. to talk to your inspector directly. Remember to ask your inspector for a copy of any violation notice he/she writes to the landlord, and make sure to follow up with the inspector if your landlord does not get the heat working soon.
If your landlord still refuses to fix the problem, you may want to file a "Decrease in Services petition" at the San Francisco Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board (see the section on Repairs for more information). You can only file this petition if you are covered under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance (your building was built before 1979 and has more than one unit).
For more information, you can call us or stop into our housing rights clinic, Monday-Thursday, 1-5pm, 415-703-8644.
Some Quick Tips
Under the law, tenants are guaranteed heat for a certain amount of hours each day -- and the heat must be able to reach 68 degrees as measured off the ground in the center of the room at a point three feet off the ground.
Make sure that all requests for heat are in writing in order to document that you made the request.
If the landlord refuses to provide heat even after your requests in writing, you can always file a petition for a decrease in services with the SF Rent Board (if your apartment is under rent control).