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This time of year, we get questions about heat.  Workers, tenants and homeowners all have questions.

When does the landlord have to provide heat?  Answers are in the State Sanitary Code, 105 CMR 410.201, which reads in part :

“The owner shall provide heat in every habitable room and every room containing a toilet, shower, or bathtub to at least 68°F (20° C) between 7:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M. and at least 64°F (17° C) between 11:01 P.M. and 6:59 A.M. every day other than during the period from June 15th to September 15th, both inclusive, in each year except and to the extent the occupant is required to provide the fuel under a written letting agreement. The temperature shall at no time exceed 78°F (25° C) during the heating season…”

At what temperature do they have to heat the workplace?  Guidelines are promulgated by the Department of Labor Standards.

Minimum Heat Guidelines
Factories  —   60-68 °F depending on activities
Foundries   —   50 °F
Machine Shops  —  60 °F
Offices   —   66-68 °F
Restaurants   —   62 °F
Schools   —   66-68 °F in classrooms
Stores   —   66-68 °F

How can I get heating assistance?  There are a lot of places that have info on heating assistance.

  • Attorney General’s Guide to Heating Assistance pdf format of home_heating_guide.pdf , Jan. 2007
    Pamphlet briefly describes when utilities may not shut off service, what to consider when signing a contract, and sources for assistance
  • Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program , Citizens Energy
    Site provides a brief introduction to the program “The Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program allows people in need to purchase low-cost home heating oil. If you need help, please call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645) or contact your local fuel assistance agency.”
  • Cold Relief Information, Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development
    Includes fuel assistance income eligibility chart, energy saving tips, and information about programs
  • Good Neighbor Energy Fund , Salvation Army
    “The Good Neighbor Energy Fund helps qualified residents in Massachusetts pay electric, gas, and oil bills when, due to temporary financial difficulty, they can’t meet their energy expenses and they aren’t eligible for state or federal assistance.” Site includes both how to contribute and how to get assistance.
  • Home Heating Consumer Assistance, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
    Site includes help with your utility bill, fuel assistance information and winter heating tips
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development
    “Known commonly as Fuel Assistance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides eligible households with help in paying a portion of winter heating bills.” Site includes everything you need to know about fuel assistance, including forms, eligibility guidelines and procedures.
  • Utilities Advocacy for Low-Income Households , National Consumer Law Center, 2013  Online version of the 136-page book, covers obtaining service, restoring service, receiving financial aid, forms, and appendices of regulations and procedures

All of these links and even more are on our Law About Winter Heating.

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