question about landlord responsibilities

So I recently moved into a new apartment in Chicago, and already am having trouble with the landlord. Upon moving in I found out that the stove is severely old - the oven knob doesn’t even have temperatures labelled on it! One of the burners on the stove doesn’t work, and the oven itself seems to be broken (the pilot light works, but the fire doesn’t “catch” when I turn the gas on). The landlord claims the oven works if you leave it on long enough. :dubious:

Assuming that he is correct (which he probably isn’t) does he still have a responsibility to replace the thing? I mean, the fact that one of the burners doesn’t work seems to be grounds enough for a replacement (or at least a repair!) but when I asked him about it all he said was “Why do you think the rent is so cheap here?” Is that a plausible excuse? Not-quite-functioning stovetop for cheap rent?

I looked up the Municipal Code for the City of Chicago, and it says that

is something the tenant can ask the landlord to remedy. I haven’t been able to find the “requirements of the municipal code” regarding gas-fired appliances (that part of the code was apparently repealed in 2003 but they don’t have a copy of the Council Journals for that year online) but is it safe to assume that the municipal code would require the stove to at least WORK PROPERLY? :mad: Or is the landlord right about the fact that he can provide a not-working stove in exchange for cheap rent as long as the appliance is not hazardous?

Try calling your local fire house. They may come and inspect it for you, or they should at least be able to put you on the right track.
Have you Googled for Il. landlord/ tenant law? Chicago may also have their own regs.

Here in San Diego, you can call the gas company to inspect such things, too.

Out of curiousity and the desire to bump this thread, I ask; did you move into the apartment sight-unseen? :confused:

Ha ha ha ha! About half the apartments I’ve rented in Chicago haven’t had labeled oven knobs. As far the heating functionality, the landlord has to make sure the oven isn’t dangerous, but I don’t think he’s obligated to actually provide an oven…

**vetbridge ** - The number of people that actually turn on appliances when looking at an apartment is astonishingly low.

For the OP - I’m guessing you’re getting your gas from People’s - they offer a safety inspection for $90. They’re not going to fix the range, but they’ll at least let you know if it’s safe, and if it’s really bad, they just might “red-tag” it, which would give you some added leverage on the landlord. Most landlords, regardless of how cheap or crummy they may be, have a general aversion to the building exploding because of a gas leak.

As for that pesky “Municipal Code” requirement, all I could find is that the landlord has to maintain gas appliances in “good working order” - it’s certainly arguable that one non-working burner and an oven that will eventually light is not in good working order, and you may have “repair and reduce” rights. Check with a housing attorney or the Illinois Tenants Union about this first - the RLTO has specific rules you must follow for such situations.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but you could also try calling the general info line for the city - 311 - they can probably aim you at a city department that can explain the Code.

Doesn’t your lease state who provides which appliance? In New Jersey the landlord has to provide a safe working stove.

No, he’s not required to provide one. But if he DOES provide one, he has to make sure it’s in good repair. If there was a stove there when the lease was signed, he has to repair or replace it.

My cite? Uh…my landlord. :wink: And also this website on tenant’s rights in Chicago. I’m looking for a more legalese cite as we speak. It’s somewhere in the City of Chicago Building Code. It’s a 1400+ page document. This might take a while!

I got an older gas stove/oven with the house I bought three years ago. I thought the oven wasn’t coming on, but the inspector told me that was just the way they made stoves then. The pilot light expands when the knob is turned, but the gas doesn’t come on until the expanded flame has heated a thermocouple past a certain point. It usually only takes a minute or two.

If this is the kind of oven you have, it may be working within the parameters to which it was designed. If ‘eventually’ is longer than a few minutes, something needs to be repaired. If it’s only a few minutes, then it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

Have you opened the top of the stove to see if there are any parts that are missing, clogged, or misaligned for the burner that doesn’t work? You can tell by comparing it to the burners that are working.

I agree that getting it inspected is a good idea, especially if you can get it done for free. Wishing you luck.

I second the recommendation of the Illinois Tenants Union - they have been VERY helpful to me in the past.

Thanks guys! Yeah, I sifted through the Building Code, but I couldn’t find the specific information I wanted. I didn’t know that older ovens took awhile for the light to catch. ARGH. It’s so frustrating, because I love cooking, and without the temperatures I forsee a great amount of trial-and-error to come. Ah well. I’ll see if I can get it inspected soon. The Tenant’s Union site is awesome - thanks!

I can’t friggin’ find it. That is, I can’t find the Building Code online to look through it. HazelNutCoffee, if you have a link, I’d be glad to try applying my madd search skillz to it.

I also thought of something else: if you have the make/model of the stove (usually it’s on a little metal plate somewhere) you can order a replacement oven knob. They usually slide right off for cleaning (or child proofing). At least that would eliminate the guess work part.

You can also buy an oven thermometer. They’re fairly cheap and handy, even if you have a marked knob, because a lot of ovens aren’t properly calibrated. My current oven is about fifty degrees off for most of its range.