How to request a heating disclosure when the heat is in the new renter's name

According to the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO), a landlord is to provide any new tenant who pays for their own heating gas with a disclosure for heating costs for the previous twelve months. (This Chicago law firm blog post is from 2014 but I believe the information is still current).  Since customer account information is usually protected private information, how does a landlord go about providing the new tenant with information about how much it cost the departing tenant to stay warm?

It's a simple process but it does take a little advance planning.  So please don't wait until the week before you accept a new resident to get yourself enrolled.  Check out this process so that you'll be prepared to welcome your next new renter with one less thing to worry about.

First you'll go to the Peoples Gas/North Shore gas webpage.  You'll see a note that says, "As a real estate agent or property owner, you can request heating cost disclosure statements online. Simply enroll in heating disclosure. You can electronically request heating information for authorized residential accounts."

Enrolling through the webform will produce this automatic confirmation on your screen: "Thank you for enrolling in the Heating Cost Disclosure program. You will receive confirmation of you enrollment within the next 10 days. Should you have additional questions, please call 312-240-4040, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m."  Shortly thereafter you might receive an email which says:

Dear Customer:

Thank you for enrolling in the Peoples Gas Heating Cost Disclosure Program, a complimentary service for real estate agents and building owners.

You may request heating disclosures online at www.peoplesgasdelivery.com. Please follow the instructions below the first time you log onto our system.

a.      Visit http://www.peoplesgasdelivery.com/hcd
b.      Login with your email address [included the personal email address I entered and a temporary password]. You will be required to update your temporary password after signing in. Once you change your password and successfully log in, go back to the Heating disclosure page at http://www.peoplesgasdelivery.com/hcd.
c.      Complete your heating cost disclosure request.

On future visits to our site, you will just need to enter your user ID and new password.  Please share your password with employees who need access to Heating Cost Disclosure Forms.

Please remember heating disclosures are only available for authorized residential heating accounts.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (312)240-4040.  We look forward to working with you.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,

Support Center
Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas

As stated, this FREE service is available to real estate agents, property managers and owners.  Once you log in to the webform mentioned in the email above you will have the opportunity to enter the address and unit number of the desired rental.  When you make the request you receive notification that the disclosures will be mailed to you in 5-10 business days.

And that's it!  After you have enrolled for the first time of course the process becomes more streamlined.  No harm in registering yourself today.

If a landlord keeps the heat in their name (and increases the rent amount to compensate) then this disclosure is not necessary.  But why on earth would an owner keep the heat in their own name if they can avoid it???

I've paid for heat before and I've found that residents can get REALLY luxurious when they are not receiving that gas bill.  I had one situation where I set the heat according to City of Chicago heating season guidelines but the renter felt too warm.  Instead of calling me to unlock the box and lower the heat, she decided the best solution was to open the windows in the City of Chicago in January to let cooler air in--and let the warm air heated by my hard earned dollars OUT.  Since I didn't live in this resident's home with her and her family, it took MONTHS before I finally became aware of the situation.

In some buildings where the heat is shared between units the landlord customarily pays.  But I myself would avoid buying a building with this set up at all costs, pardon the pun.  In addition to the heating costs, the City's penalties for not adhering to certain guidelines can be pretty tough--rightly so because fragile humans cannot afford to play around with a Chicago winter.  The city's website says: "Landlords face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation, for each day they do not supply adequate heat. The reason for lack of heat does not matter -- landlords must follow the law, and apartments must be heated."  So do yourself a favor: let the resident pay for their own heat (whenever possible) and do your part by keeping the heating system in good working order.

Screenshot of options on the Peoples Gas website for landlords

Screenshot of options on the Peoples Gas website for landlords

Lastly, Peoples Gas also allows you to create a setup where the gas service automatically "reverts" to your name in a unit if the renter moves unexpectedly or, much worse, gets their service cut off for non-payment.  This is a GREAT option because sometimes a tenant might get the service involuntarily cut off without informing you.  That could lead to a situation where your vulnerable water pipes are exposed to freezing temperatures.  It happened to me.  Don't let it happen to you!

Have you had any interesting experiences as a landlord working with People Gas or renters concerning natural gas service?  Add your thoughts below and let us know.

 

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