New Cornwall heating bylaw addresses tenants with no heat control

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – If you live in a Cornwall duplex, triplex or multiplex where you don’t have access to the thermostat, a recent change in the law may be the help you need.

City council passed an “Adequate and Suitable Heat Bylaw” at its meeting last week.

The law is primarily meant to address broken or malfunctioning heating appliances and will “bypass” the Property Standards Bylaw, which can take over two weeks to address a complaint.

Instead, bylaw enforcement officers will be able to make an order almost immediately once they determine there’s inadequate heat. If it’s not done in a “timely fashion,” bylaw can then order the repairs and slap the bill on the landlord’s municipal taxes.

Also, if you have a fellow tenant in your building that controls the thermostat and keeps your unit too cool, the law will address that too.

When asked by Coun. Carilyne Hebert about drafty doors and windows and inadequate temperature due to another tenant controlling the thermostat, using an example of “three unit buildings where one unit controls the temperature for all three units,” Bray says the new law will cover that.

“The window and door portion of that, unfortunately that would still have go through the property standards route. However, the other matter as far as … the thermostat, that is something we’re going to be able to proceed under this bylaw,” Bray said.

The law says “adequate” and “suitable” heat is a room temperature in all living areas of at least 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s based on the air temperature 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) above the floor and 1 meter (3.2 feet) from any wall in the apartment without any supplemental heat from a space heater.

Bray told council Monday (Jan. 24) the city receives an average of one heating complaint a week. The department doesn’t think it will receive any more complaints than it does now.

The city will not be proactively checking apartments for adequate heat. It will react on submitted complaints. The number is 613-930-2787 extension 2310.