Massachusetts law about winter heating

A compilation of laws, regulations, and web sources on legal requirements for winter heat, and sources of assistance.

Table of Contents

Minimum heat requirements

Oct. 15-May 15 At work

Workplace

MGL c.149, § 113 Heat in the workplace
Listed workplaces "shall be properly heated during the period from October fifteenth to May fifteenth."

Minimum workplace heating guidelines, Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards.
Outlines the minimum temperatures required in various types of workplaces. Specific temperature requirements for various types of workplaces.

 

Sept. 15 - June 15 At home

Residential

105 CMR 410.201 
Temperature requirements. Regulation requires temperatures of at least 64 degrees at night and 68 degrees during the day from September 15 to June 15. Temperatures should not exceed 78 degrees. There can be exceptions, so be sure to read the regulation for details.

Complaining about your heat in a rental unit
Minimum heat requirements are part of what is called the state Sanitary Code. If a landlord does not respond to a tenant’s complaints about a Sanitary Code violation, the tenant may request that a code enforcement officer or the local board of health inspect the apartment. 

Options if your landlord refuses to make repairs, Mass. Legal Help, 2017. 
"If your landlord does not make repairs after you have either notified her in writing or she has been ordered by the Board of Health to make repairs, you may need to consider other options, such as withholding your rent, making repairs and deducting the cost from your rent, working with other tenants to put pressure on the landlord, taking your landlord to court, or breaking your lease."

Substance abuse treatment facility

105 CMR 164.051 
"Each building shall be equipped with a heating system that is sufficient to maintain a minimum temperature of 68° F throughout the building during cold weather. Portable heaters are prohibited."

Restrictions on heat shut-off

MGL c.164, § 124F Shutting off service during financial hardship

220 CMR 25 Utility shutoff procedures.
Provides particular protection to infants, the elderly, and to others during serious illness and during the winter.

What to do when the heat goes off, A. Joseph Ross.
Information for tenants on what to do if you have an isolated problem or if your heat is chronically not working.

Winter moratorium protection against shutting off heat, Mass. Legal Services, Nov. 2012.
Explains the provisions of the law.

Heat assistance

Cold relief brochure, Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development, 2019
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.

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.

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: January 8, 2019
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