Heating Problems Could Leave Students in the Cold

Marianna PapageorgiuSome renters who have radiator heating systems aren't able to control their apartment's temperature with a thermostat.

Despite recent warm weather, one Loyola student has already faced extreme cold this semester — in her own home.

Junior Marianna Papageorgiu said that during a cold spell in mid-October, she realized the heat in her apartment at the corner of Devon and Wayne avenues was not turned on. It was so cold that she had to sleep with a hat on.

The 20-year-old Papageorgiu said she and her roommates didn’t contact their landlord in the hopes that warm weather would return. The landlord came to the apartment about one week later to turn on the heat, she said.

Papageorgiu, a psychology major, said another week passed and still only the radiator in the living room was working — but it wasn’t putting out much heat. So, this time, she texted her landlord and asked him to fix the heat. Within a few days, he arrived with a plumber to fix the heating pipes.

“Just the whole process of having to be cold for pretty much two and a half weeks really sucked,” Papageorgiu said.

She said she and her roommates thought about pursuing other options if their landlord didn’t repair the heat but wanted to try to work things out with him first.

“I would like to say that I would [call the city to report a problem], but I honestly think if I was in the situation, I don’t think I would’ve actually gone to the city,” said Papageorgiu.

Papageorgiu said she was hesitant to bring the issue to others outside of the landlord because of the perceived lack of authority as a student.

“This is my first apartment, and I feel like landlords don’t take students as seriously as they do the parents,” Papageorgiu said. “It’s hard to be taken seriously as a homeowner, if that’s what you want to call it, as a student.”

Loyola’s Office of Off-Campus Student Life hasn’t received any heat complaints this year from students living off campus, according to the department coordinator Kristina Garcia. She said this could be because the temperature hasn’t been very cold yet. Garcia said there weren’t any reports to her office made last year, either.

However, Chicago’s Department of Buildings has issued 367 violations to landlords for inadequate heating so far in 2016, according to the building violations database in the City of Chicago Data Portal.

Fifty-nine of these violations have been issued since September. “Inadequate heating” means that those landlords failed to keep the temperature of their tenants’ homes at least 68 degrees between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. or at least 66 degrees outside of those hours. The 68-degree minimum is required between Sept. 15 and June 1.

While there haven’t been any reported heat violations near Loyola in Rogers Park or Edgewater so far this year, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts this year’s winter to be colder than normal.

About one-third of Loyola’s undergraduate students — which amounts to more than 2,500 students — live in off-campus apartments near Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, according to Garcia.

If any of these students experience unreasonably cold temperatures in their homes and don’t have a compliant landlord, there are multiple ways they can still get the problem resolved.

Tenants can call 311 to give complaints about their buildings. Landlords must provide heat for their buildings, according to Chicago’s Heat Ordinance, and can be charged $500 for each day their renters go without heat.

Garcia said that when students have difficulties with their landlords responding to their requests, Off-Campus Student Life advises them to document in writing their communication with their landlord.

If further problems persist, the office will advise students to contact the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. The organization’s Tenants Rights Hotline can be contacted from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (773) 292-4988.

Illinois Tenants Union, which advises renters on their rights and how to get repairs completed by their landlords, can be contacted at (773) 478-1133.

On its website, Off-Campus Student Life also directs renters to call the Rogers Park Community Council at (773) 338-7722 or the Edgewater Community Council at (773) 334-5609.

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