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Just checking ...

I'm quite certain I already know the answer, but I'm checking, just in case, because you never know. I've been wrong before.

There's an older lady in my church who has legal custody of her grandchildren. The mom pretty much lives life on her terms, always has. Takes her kids when it's convenient. The latest arrangement has been that the mom has her own apartment where the kids sleep at night. She drops the ten-year-old girl off at school in the morning and leaves the twelve-year-old boy, who isn't in school right now because of serious health problems--long story--with his grandparents for the day while she goes to work. Well, this morning she brought the boy to the grandma, and his whole body was cold as ice, and he was shivering, teeth chattering, and coughing up a storm. Her story was that the apartment complex has started this thing where they turn off the heat for the whole place at 7:30 at night and turn it back on at 7:30 in the morning. Master switch for the entire complex, nothing anybody can do about it.

So the grandma called me and another lady from church asking for blankets she can send over there for her grandkids. I have three, and the other lady is rounding up a couple, but my thought is, blankets aren't the issue. The deal is, the mom probably went and spent the heat money on something else, and now the bill isn't paid, and it's cold enough to make a polar bear turn up its nose and cuss, and those kids can't go back to that apartment. So I'm just asking, for any of you landlord ladies out there, if there's any possible way on the face of this planet, at least in the United States of America, that you could have a master switch to shut down everybody's heat for twelve hours at night in the dead of Colorado winter when it's below zero out without the city and Section 8 and CPS and the news and everybody else climbing up your sorry ass. In case I'm missing something. I'm wondering what my best approach should be, because I'm not sure I can in good conscience just send my three comforters out the door and leave it at that.


Asked by Ballad at 12:34 PM on Dec. 4, 2013 in General Parenting

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (22)
  • My building has a central heating system but we have control over whether it's on or off in our apartment. If for any reason they had to turn off the whole heating system, I'm sure they could... but it certainly doesn't seem likely that ANY landlord would EVER turn off the heat completely. Our heating costs are included in our rent, as I'm sure hers probably is too... but it's possible that it's extra if she uses more of it so she may not want to. The heat likely wouldn't be turned OFF from her not paying the bill, because she's in an apartment, but she might not be able to afford more of it.

    Answer by AdensMama0308 at 2:20 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • If the grandmother has custody she should keep the kids.

    Answer by DJDNY at 1:58 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I think the mom blew the money on something else and doesn't want to own up to it. It is against the law to not provide heat in a rental property. Our boiler died a couple of years ago and our landlord offered to put us up in a motel until he could get it fixed. He is required by law to do so. report her to CPS. If it is somehow the landlord doing it, they will be in serious trouble. But if it is her fault, then the kids will be taken away as they should be. Seriously call! That boy has ongoing medical issues, freezing to death isn't helping his already hard situation.

    Answer by SleepingBeautee at 12:44 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • My guess ... she's lying and like you said, spent the money on something else. I really don't see that even being anywhere close to legal. I think it's time to have that custody agreement re-done where "mother" doesn't have them overnight ... EVER.

    Answer by SpiritedWitch at 12:46 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • 1. I don't believe there is any such thing as a master switch for heat. There could be a main breaker that shuts off electricity to the entire complex, but not just for heat. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

    2. I'm pretty sure it would be illegal. I don't live in Colorado, but I'm pretty sure most states have laws about providing access to heat. Like, if it breaks, the landlord has to fix it, and that would also include not turning it off when it's most needed. Even if there's no specific law that states it, I bet there's some kind of law that says that children must be in homes/apartments with adequate heating, which would mean that the complex wouldn't be able to turn it off like that.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 12:56 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • If the grandparent who has custody knowingly allows her grandchildren to be in a home without heat for many hours...that is neglect on her part. Especially since the older child has known health issues. I would have to make call of concern to social services. It appears the grandmother may have always caved when it comes to her daughter and now it is at the expense of young children. No. Social services needs to be made aware.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:13 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I'm not a landlord and don't know anything about things like this, but it doesn't sound plausible to me. First off, it would make more sense to shut the heat off during the day if the apt complex would do it at all, not night time when it's typically colder. When I lived in an apt, I had to keep my heat set at a certain temp, so pipes wouldn't freeze. Wouldn't that be a concern of theirs too?

    Anyways, Walmart has small space heaters for around $30. They'll keep a small room pretty warm.

    Answer by mommy_jules at 12:42 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I never knew many apartments that provide heat, if she has a thermostat in the apartment, she has her own heating unit. I can't imagine that everyone just gets heat at the same temp, and people are still living there.
    This sounds like bull to me, a good way to find out is to call the complex and inquire about renting there, ask what is and is not provided. Those kids can't stay in a cold house, so someone needs to do something.
    I have a duplex, and do not provide any electric, gas or water, they must send me an update every year that they have all of these things, so the pipes don't freeze. I have heard of people getting eletric paid for, but if they shut that off they wouldn't have lights either, sounds bogus.

    Answer by 2kids2dogs2cats at 12:50 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • It would be very easy to just call the apartment complex and ask them. If so, I'd report them to the nearest housing authority.

    It's a lot more believable she had her utilities cut off for failure to pay. Poor kids.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 12:53 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

  • I can not speak for every state but the answer is no. We have the power to turn of utilities if they need to be worked on but even if the utilities are included as part of the rent, the tenants have control. The thermostats maybe locked to avoid misuse, but must remain in the "comfort zone". Utilities can be turned off at the utility company for nonpayment. If I were the grandmother I would tell mom that until the situation rectifies itself the children will remain in your home always for the sake of their health.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:55 PM on Dec. 4, 2013

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