Now that it’s officially winter, some tenants are complaining that their apartments are not getting enough heat. If legal temperatures (see graphic below) are not maintained:
- Call management to report the problem. The city asks you to try to resolve the problem with management first—it is your responsibility to notify the landlord. The city advises you to keep a record of all contact with the landlord.
- StuyTown Property Services has said it will provide an indoor thermometer on request, or you can buy one on your own. Keep a chart of exact dates, times, and temperature readings wherever your apartment feels cold. This is your evidence.
- Call 311 to report the landlord’s violation (you must provide contact information). Call repeatedly. An inspector should eventually come, although you may not be alerted in advance. You can also file a complaint online at http://www1.nyc.gov/311/.
- Get other neighbors without sufficient heat in your building to call 311. Everyone should call repeatedly, at least once every day the condition is not corrected.
- Call the state’s Tenant Protection Unit at (718) 739-6400, and ask them to send you their Heat and Hot Water Complaint form. Get as many other apartments as possible in your building to sign on, demanding an order to restore heat and a reduction and freeze in all the rents.
How does HPD respond to heat complaints? According to its website:
If a tenant files a 311 complaint related to heat, HPD attempts to notify the building owner or managing agent and may also attempt to contact the tenant to see whether service has been restored. If service has not been restored, an HPD inspector will go to the building to verify the complaint and issue the appropriate violation.
If an owner fails to restore heat after receiving a violation, HPD’s Emergency Repair Program (ERP) may contract with private companies to restore essential services and bill the owner for the cost of the repairs, plus related fees. More...
Finally, tenants can file for a rent reduction based on lack of heat (see DHCR Fact Sheet #15, Heat and Hot Water, http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac15.pdf). The form may be obtained at http://www.nyshcr.org/Forms/Rent/HHW1.pdf. This is where your record keeping will be necessary—you will be required to attach a report from the agency to which you have complained (311).