Turn up the heat on your landlord
As temperatures begin to drop, many local renters suffer from insufficient heat and hot water. Two stories in this week’s paper include tenant complaints about cold conditions.
Nobody should have to shiver inside his or her apartment. Unscrupulous landlords have been known to hold back the basics to save a few bucks on heating, so it’s important that renters know their rights.
According to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the City Housing Maintenance Code and State Multiple Dwelling Law require building owners to provide hot water 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees.
During “heat season” between Oct. 1 and May 31, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature must be at least 68 degrees. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., if the temperature outside falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature must be at least 55 degrees.
Tenants without sufficient heat or hot water should contact the building’s owner, manager or super. If the problem is not fixed, you should lodge a complaint with 3-1-1 (this can be done anonymously for the whole building).
An HPD inspector is sent to verify complaints and issue the appropriate violation after officials determine that the problem has not been repaired. If HPD inspects and the violation is not fixed, emergency repairs may be made at the owner’s expense.
You may be entitled to rent abatement for the days you went without sufficient heat or hot water.
The problem for a lot of tenants, however, is that by the time HPD comes to check on the problem, it’s fixed, only for the issue to crop up again once an inspector leaves. Some even speculate that the landlord turns the heat on and off, up and down, in ways that make it difficult to document the problem.
Tenants may get better results if they organize against a rogue landlord, which they have a legal right to do.
Landlords are required to permit tenant organizations to meet for free in any community or social room in the building so long as meetings are held at reasonable times in a peaceful manner.
Keywordstenant, heat, hot water, landlord, northwest bronx community and clergy coalition, heat season, 3-1-1, hpd, opinion