Do You Have To Pay for Heat in an Apartment?

As far as most laws go, landlords must provide functional heating systems for their tenants. But who will foot the bills for that — you or your landlord?

You have to pay for heat in your apartment if your lease agreement specifies it. However, the type of building or heating system also determines who’s responsible for the heating bill.

Knowing who will pay for the heat in your apartment — among other things — can help you plan your expenses or make a more informed decision about renting a specific apartment. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know: who should pay for the heat in your apartment, who should fix any heating problems, what can cause your heating bill to go up, and tips for reducing your heating bills.

Who Pays for Heat in an Apartment?

The payment arrangement for heat isn’t the same everywhere. Generally, you need to check the lease agreement: If it’s silent on who will foot the bill, it will likely be your landlord’s responsibility.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the type of heating system in your building also plays a part in who will pay for the heat in your apartment. 

The Landlord Pays the Heat if the Building Has a Central Heating System

If your building has a central heating system, your landlord will be responsible for paying the heating bill. The bill should be included in your rent, so you don’t have to worry about sorting that out every month. For example, most buildings in New York use a central heating system. 

Read: How To Save Heat In An Apartment?

The Tenant Pays for the Heat if the Building Has a Decentralized Heating System

If your building has a decentralized heating system, the tenant will be responsible for the heating bill. These buildings usually have a meter for each apartment that measures the amount of heat consumed by each tenant. Most modern buildings use a decentralized system. 

Since heat consumption varies between tenants, it makes sense that their respective heating bills should differ as well. 

Who Should Fix the Heat in Your Apartment?

I’ve covered who should pay for the heat in your apartment. Next, you’ll probably want to ask: Who should fix the heat in your apartment when it’s malfunctioning? Let’s look at the laws again. 

US laws require that your landlord provide a functional heat system to warm your apartment to a certain temperature every winter. This temperature varies from state to state, depending on the local climate.

Your landlord is also responsible for fixing your heat when it stops working. That’s why you should notify your landlord immediately if there’s a problem with the heat in your apartment. 

States laws also mandate your landlord to fix your heat within a stipulated time, depending on when the problem occurred. For example, if your heat stops working during winter, it’s considered an emergency, and your landlord should fix it immediately.

Read: How To Heat An Apartment Efficiently?

What To Do if Your Landlord Won’t Fix Your Heat?

But what if your landlord doesn’t fix your heat after you notify them? In that case, there are a couple of things you can do.

  • You can fix the heat and deduct the repair cost from your rent. Otherwise, you’ll end up in a freezing apartment waiting for your landlord to respond to you.
  • You can also withhold your rent until your landlord has fixed your heat. Withholding your rent may get your landlord’s attention and force them to meet your demands. They now have a stronger incentive to help you fix your problem, after all.

That said, you should familiarize yourself with the laws in your state to ensure you’re not violating any provisions by doing either of the above. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a lawsuit that’s several times more expensive than your potential heat repair bill.  

I also recommend getting a professional to fix any heating issues in your apartment. If you end up accidentally damaging anything while performing a DIY fix on your thermostat, you may unnecessarily increase your expenses.

If everything else fails, consider moving into a new apartment. Of course, this should be your last resort, since moving to a new place is something you shouldn’t take lightly. But if you’ve exhausted all of your options and your landlord won’t budge or help you with your heating problem, it’s probably time to look elsewhere.

Read: What Type Of Heating Systems Do Apartments Have?

Is Your Heat Bill Skyrocketing? Here’s Why?

Is your heat bill going up? It’s probably due to one or more of the following reasons.

  • Weather that’s colder than normal: Due to factors like climate change, winters may become colder than you can tolerate. The colder it gets, the higher your thermostat, and the higher your bills.
  • Faulty insulation: Loose walls and attics cause the heat to escape more easily. One sign of this is that, even though you increase the heat, the house never gets warm enough.
  • Inflation: Of course, if the overall prices of goods and services go up, so will your heating bill.
  • Unused plugged-in appliances: Even when they’re off, things like laptop chargers and TVs consume electricity as long as they’re plugged into an outlet. Over time, the seemingly small amounts of energy they consume add up.

Read: How To Keep Your Apartment Humid? (7 Tips)

How To Keep Your Heat Bill Low?

Below are some practical ways to cut down your heat bills. Some of them may seem inconvenient, but if your heat bill is eating up a significant amount of your budget, they may be worth a try.

  • Let in a lot of sunlight: Instead of leaving your thermostat on for 24 hours, pull up your curtains if it’s sunny outside. That way, the sunlight can naturally warm your house.
  • Stay cool at night: It’s common knowledge that when your bedroom temperature drops to a certain level, it’s easier to fall asleep. If it’s possible to schedule the times your thermostat operates, let it heat only during the day. 
  • Turn off the thermostat when it’s not in use: Doing this can save you money, especially if your thermostat isn’t “smart” — that is, it doesn’t allow you to schedule when it operates.
  • Install solar energy: Installing solar power in your home can be expensive, but it will save you money in the long run. All you need is sunlight to heat your home and power your appliances at the same time.
  • Install a heat monitor: This smart appliance monitors your daily heat usage. By using a heat monitor, you can have a more accurate picture of the amount of heat you actually consume and act accordingly.
  • Turn off heat in empty rooms: After all, no one is using those rooms, so why would you turn on the thermostat there?
  • Block all air escape routes: You want to conserve all the heat generated within your apartment. Therefore, check for any openings in the windows, doors, ceiling, roof, etc., and close or seal them. 
  • Buy space heaters: As their name suggests, space heaters only heat up where they are, helping you cut your heating bill further.
  • Wear warm clothes: Instead of relying on your thermostat to keep you warm, wear clothes to help you stay comfortable. For example, you can snuggle under a thick blanket, wear socks, hand gloves, or fluffy slippers, and drink hot tea, chocolate, or similar beverages.

I briefly mentioned space heaters earlier. For that, I recommend the Kisimile Small Space Heater (available on Amazon.com). It’s battery-powered, so you don’t have to worry about losing heat when your electricity suddenly gets cut off. Also, it’s designed to turn off when the temperatures shoot above a certain level, ensuring that you stay safe as you stay warm. 

Read: 3 Simple Ways How To Keep Apartment Dry

Wrap Up

The lease agreement usually specifies who should pay for the heat in your apartment. If it’s silent on this topic, it’s most likely your landlord’s responsibility. 

However, the type of heating system may play a more important role in who should foot the bill. If your building has a central heating system, your landlord will pay for it. Otherwise, you’ll pay for the heating costs.