Legal Tips – Do Associations have to provide heat and A/C?

The answer is “yes and no.”

Condominium associations in the City of Chicago certainly do have an obligation under the Chicago Building Code (§13-196-410) to provide heat to any unit where owners do not have individual control of the heat. This becomes a problem in older buildings that share a common boiler with a two-pipe system, especially during the annoying months in Chicago where the weather jumps back and forth between hot and cold (i.e., May and September). It is then up to the board and management to decide whether to keep the A/C on or to run the boiler to provide heat.

Since there is an ordinance that requires heat be provided when it’s cold, but no ordinance that requires A/C be provided when it’s hot, the board should take the requirement that it comply with the law into account when making its decision. The ordinance states that between September 15 through June 1, the temperature inside a residence is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM, and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 PM to 8:30 AM.

So again, while the law mandates that the heat is available between September 15 through June 1, it does not mandate that A/C be provided. Thus, if the association is unable to switch back-and-forth between heating and cooling in the same day due to the two-pipe system, the best course of action is to err on the side of caution and to provide the heat to ensure that the units remain within the ordinance-mandated temperatures.