This time of year in Chicago, the weather can be brutal. There are many days in which we are unlikely to hit temperatures above zero. With temperatures this cold, forcing tenants to go without heat can seem cruel. The state of Illinois seems to agree.
In order to prevent families from going without heat during the most bitterly cold months of the year, it is illegal to disconnect utilities form December 1 to March 31 if tenants will be left without heat on any day when the forecast predicts that the temperature will hit 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. While theoretically this means that your heat could be turned off for a few days during a freak heat wave, in practice this means that power companies don’t do disconnections between December 1 and March 31.
Heat is similarly considered an essential service that landlords must ensure is provided. Your landlord must ensure that the temperature in your apartment is at least 68 degrees between 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. from September 15 of each year to June 1 of the following year. If you cannot control the thermostat in your unit, and you measure the temperature three times a day to be in violation of this for week, you have the right to demand that the landlord raise the temperature in a written notice. If it is not immediately rectified, call 311 for a building inspection so that this law can be enforced.
Does this mean that I can’t be evicted during the winter?
Many Chicago residents assume that evictions are illegal in winter months, because of the freezing temperatures, but this is a myth. Winter evictions are possible, so long as the standard eviction procedure is followed. In most of Illinois, there are no winter restrictions at all. If you receive a proper notice of eviction from your landlord, you have five days to pay or leave.
If you live in Cook County, though, there are some caveats to this law. In Cook County, the sheriff’s office cannot carry out eviction orders between December 17 and January 2 for the holiday season. The sheriff also may not enforce orders when the temperature outside is 15 degrees or colder, or when weather conditions would cause health-related danger to the person being evicted, like during a blizzard, storm or high winds. However, this is not a stopgap that lasts for a long time in most cases. Expect to be removed the day that the temperature hits 16 degrees.
Remember, though, that evictions are not simple to get, and unless your landlord has fully followed eviction procedures correctly, the eviction notice may be invalid. You should consult with a lawyer if you believe that an eviction is invalid. As a tenant, you always have certain rights that a landlord cannot take away and responsibilities that they must uphold. If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, contact our Chicago injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to find out how we may be able to help.