Rookie high-rise tenants whining about the heat

by Joe Zekas on 3/22/12

Most Chicagoans are thoroughly enjoying the recent record high temperatures. Most, but not all.

We’ve heard that twenty-something rookie renters in a number of high-rise buildings are whining loudly about the temperature in their apartments. They’ve also threatened to move to hotels until the heat wave passes, and deduct the cost from their rent. At least one tenant has threatened a lawsuit.

Veteran tenants realize that building owners and managers can’t easily switch their two-pipe heating and cooling systems to provide chilled water to the fans that cool the units in high-rise buildings. It takes several days to switch these systems from heating to cooling and several additional days to switch back. We mention the topic briefly at about 4:00 of the above video.

Chicago ordinances require landlords to provide minimum heat temperatures during a heating season that begins September 15 and lasts until June 1st. Landlords must maintain at least a 68-degree temperature from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Although this heat wave has lasted for more than a week, a landlord would have been foolish to run the risk that it would.

Welcome to the world, young renters. Suck it up, wait it out and quit your whining.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

David March 22, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Alternatively, they could move to a building with a four-pipe system.


SheridanB March 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Or a building with steam or hot water heat and operable windows and individual AC.


nwzimmer March 22, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Yes, you could say that the tenants should have done their own research, known that these are two-pipe systems, and made their decision to live here or someplace with the 4-pipe. I guess that goes to the whole “rookie” comment.

However, and I think this is REALLY key: a lot of these buildings present themselves as high-end, or “luxury” buildings.

That’s where I think a lot of these buildings get in trouble; the tenants are sitting in their “luxury” apartment (and certainly paying inflated “luxury” prices), and they can’t even do something as simple as make the air temp in their own home a reasonable temperature.


David March 23, 2012 at 7:56 AM

I agree. A building that has no way to air condition and heat at the same time has no business calling itself “luxury”. This becomes a problem for at least a few weeks during every Spring and Fall season.


Joe Zekas March 23, 2012 at 11:09 AM

There are quite a few rental and condo buildings that most would consider “luxury” that have 2-pipe systems.

CBS 2 is reporting on the temperature at Presidential Towers, without mentioning that the landlords have legal constraints in switching over.


David March 23, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I’m surprised (shocked, really) that the building management didn’t cite the requirement when responding to CBS’ inquiries. If they did but CBS omitted that part of the response, then that’s extremely poor reporting.


Joe Zekas March 23, 2012 at 6:01 PM


More relevant, in my mind, is that the reporter and editors at CBS didn’t raise the heating ordinance issue on their own, whether or not management apprised them of it. They may have been aware of it and failed to grasp its significance.

The comments on the CBS article are well worth reading.

In two separate communications to tenants, both of which are quoted verbatim in the comments, management clearly explained the bind they were placed in by the city’s heating ordinance and the time required to switch from heating to cooling.

Some of the commenters make it clear that they will studiously ignore any reality that gets in the way of indulging their wishes. They’re planning to move in response to what they perceive as a legitimate grievance.

They’re still rookies in that they don’t understand that there aren’t enough buildings with 4-pipe systems to accommodate any significant number of tenants fleeing 2-pipe buildings. And far fewer still at comparable rent levels.


nwzimmer March 26, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Again, if these were cheap places to live, this maybe wouldn’t be as big of a deal.

But the places we’re talking about here are certainly not. These people can’t escape the 85 degree heat in their own “LUXURY” apartments…


SheridanB March 26, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Hmm, 85 degree heat in luxury apartments sounds so New York 1980′s.

I just heard an interview where they spoke with a social scientist who determined that the stronger a persons viewpoint (vis a vis a factual subject), the more facts to the contrary that they were presented with the stronger their original conviction became.


Steve May 5, 2014 at 9:32 AM

I completely disagree. The heating ordinance should not apply to condos and large rental buildings in my opinion. YOU put on a sweatshirt and suck it up. You can always put more clothes on; eventually you can’t take anymore clothes off.


Jon September 29, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Thank you, Steve!!!


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