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Here's what renters can do if their heat goes out during the winter months

WRTV is working to find out what your rights are
Renters heat goes out
Posted at 4:41 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 18:58:26-05

INDIANAPOLIS — As we deal with below-freezing temperatures this week, some renters are dealing with the cold temperatures without heat.

It is a common problem in our area, in fact, the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic says it is one of the top complaints they hear about this time of year.

Tamara Jury said her mother and grandfather in his 90s had this happen to them. They had to spend three nights without heat this week after they weren’t able to get help from the landlord.

“My mother called the very first day," Jury said. "She called Sunday initially when it went out and they were not answering her calls. She called on Monday morning, they did not answer."

So, she called Citizens Energy to try and fix the furnace thinking it was a problem with the gas, but they were unable to help.

“The gas company had tried to turn the heat on, but he said as soon as he turned it on I mean this thing was beeping like crazy," Jury said. "It had high levels of carbon monoxide. He wasn't able to leave it on. He said that he understood that they were cold, but if he were to leave it on then they would not have made it through the night."

Not knowing where else to turn, she called the Marion County Public Health Department. They came out to inspect the furnace and issued a notice to the landlord and property manager, giving them 24 hours to fix it.

"The local health department in Marion County considers that to be an emergency violation from October until March,” said Chase Haller, Director of Housing and Consumer Justice for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.

He said Jury handled that correctly and if a tenant is unable to get ahold of their landlord or if their landlord refuses to fix their heat during those months, they should call the health department.

“Immediately you have written evidence that there's a problem at the property and it is not just you as a renter complaining,” Haller said.

That process worked for Jury. She said her family’s heat is back on and she encourages others to be persistent if their heat goes out as well.

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