City officials hearing complaints regarding low or no heat

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- As the bitter cold settled in this week, the city is taking complaints from tenants claiming their heat isn't working. FOX6 News spoke with one woman in Milwaukee who said her heat isn't working at all -- saying she needed four blankets on her bed. She says she is working with her landlord to fix the heat, but she is just one example of what some people are going through in this cold.

It is drafty by the windows in Donna Owen's apartment -- but still, on Wednesday, January 8th, her apartment was a comfortable 68 degrees.

"A lot of people are using space heaters now in their units," Owen said.

Milwaukee officials say there are people in the city living in apartments where the temperature is just above freezing.

"This is pretty dangerous stuff when it gets down to 10 below and it`s 30 to 40 degrees in the unit," David Krey with the Department of Neighborhood Services said.

The Department of Neighborhood Services is taking calls from tenants claiming to have insufficient heat or no heat at all.

"Sometimes it's just one unit in a building, sometimes it's a whole building," Krey said.

It's the landlord's responsibility to provide working heat for tenants.

"If we are unable to resolve it with a phone call then we will go out and we will issue an actual order for them to provide heat to maintain a minimum of 67 degrees," Krey said.

If a landlord can't comply or won't comply, the city may evacuate the building.

"We would ask that the landlord provide supplemental space heaters or something. If they don't, then we might be forced to close the building," Krey said.

There is some leniency -- as DNS officials look to see whether the landlord is actively trying to fix the problem.

"If you've got a large boiler system servicing a large building, sometimes the parts aren't readily available and sometimes the contractor isn't there to do it so we try to prove that they are working toward compliance," Krey said.

FOX6 News met another family Wednesday keeping their apartment warm with the stove. They didn't want to go on camera for fear of upsetting their landlord, but officials say using your stove for heat is a bad idea because of the carbon monoxide in the air.

Also -- if you use space heaters, it's important to make sure they are clear to help avoid a fire.