Are you preparing for another chilly fall and winter?
If you live in New York City, the chances are high that you’ll have a white Christmas. But although this can be picture-perfect, the freezing weather can take its toll after a while.
If you are lucky, you will be able to escape the weather in a warm and cozy apartment. However, many landlords try to save money by refusing to turn up the heating to comfortable levels.
So, let’s find out about the NYC Heat Law and your rights as a tenant.
- Overview of New York City’s Heat Laws
- Hot Water Regulations
- What to Do if Your Landlord Violates the NYC Heat Law?
- How to Collect the Necessary Evidence?
- How to File an Official Complaint?
- What to do if Your Apartment is Too Hot?
- Tenant Matters
- Final Thoughts
Overview of New York City’s Heat Laws
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development has set out clear rules and regulations. It is designed to ensure that all city residents have sufficient heat during the coldest part of the year. The regulations begin on October 1st and end on May 31st.
What is the basis of these regulations?
Landlords have to make sure that tenants have access to enough heat. From 06:00 until 22:00, the specified temperature is a minimum of 68°F when the outside temperature is below 55°F. And the temperature inside rental properties must be at least 62°F from 22:00 to 06:00.
Hot Water Regulations
Tenants in New York City also have the right to hot water from June 1st to September 30th. During this period, the water must be at least 120°F. And landlords who fail to provide this hot water are in violation of the law.
Does this apply everywhere in NY?
Yes. All property owners in New York City are charged with following the regulations governing heat and hot water. However, many landlords violate these laws in order to save money. In 2019 alone, more than three thousand heat-related complaints were made to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
What to Do if Your Landlord Violates the NYC Heat Law?
So the good news is, there are regulations in place to protect you from having to suffer in a freezing apartment. However, trying to make sure that your landlord follows the rules can be easier said than done. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your landlord turns up the heat.
1 Call Your Landlord
The first step should be calling the number of the landlord or property manager provided on your contract. Try to explain the issue calmly and in as much detail as possible. Your landlord may not be aware of the issue and should hopefully agree to resolve it quickly.
2 Withhold the Rent
If the issue is not resolved, you are legally permitted to stop paying rent until you get the heat you need. However, you need to proceed with caution because your landlord could sue you for nonpayment of rent. And this could happen even if you decide to only withhold part of the rent.
But be aware…
If your landlord does decide to sue you, you can impose a counterclaim based on their breach of warranty of habitability. The court will review the two claims and order a rent abasement if you have the legal right. However, there is no way of knowing in advance how much the rent abasement would amount to.
Therefore, you should make sure you can pay your rent in full if you are ordered to do so. Also, keep careful records of the date you stopped paying rent and the reason. Including any financial difficulties that you may have experienced as a direct result of your living conditions. Because if you are unable to pay the rent that the court decides is due, you run the risk of being evicted.
3 Notify Your Landlord in Writing
It is a good idea to give your landlord written notice of the issue in a letter or email. Then, keep a copy of the communication as evidence that you reported the issue. This communication can also include your intention to withhold the rent.
You should clearly outline the issue in your letter or email. Explain why it is causing you distress and what action you would like your landlord to take. You can also file a copy of the letter with, or email MyNYCHA to make it a formal complaint.
4 Collect Evidence
Before you make a formal complaint, it’s best to start collecting evidence. You need to keep a log of the temperature in your apartment. And you also need to log the temperature of your water if it’s below 120°F.
How to Collect the Necessary Evidence?
If your landlord refuses to heat your apartment, you will need to take further action. You will usually be required to show evidence that the issue has been going on for a while. Here are some ways to collect and present evidence that supports your claim.
Lack of Heat
You can pick up a thermometer designed to measure air temperature in most corner stores for a few dollars. Make sure you note the exact time and date of the temperature reading. This is because the regulations vary slightly for different times of the day.
You should take a temperature reading both inside and outside your apartment. Try to find someone to witness the temperature readings. And this person should add their initials to each recording.
Additionally, take a few readings at different times of the day and night. Write down the area of your apartment where you took the readings and use the same area each time. Also, write down the information as soon as you take the reading to make sure that it’s accurate.
Lack of Hot Water
You can buy a water temperature thermometer for around $10. Alternatively, you can use a cooking thermometer. Run the water for five to seven minutes and take a video as you record the temperature of the water.
How to File an Official Complaint?
Once you have collected the evidence you need, it’s time to report the issue to the authorities. If the situation has been going on for a while, you should contact the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In extreme situations where your apartment is freezing cold, you can call 311 to report the problem.
Starting an HP Legal Proceeding
If the issue is not resolved after you report it, you might need to start legal proceedings. These take place at a Housing Court and are commonly known as HP proceedings. This is a case that you bring against your landlord to force them to make repairs to the apartment building. The proceeding is also designed to force landlords to fix outstanding building violations and other outstanding issues.
Where to start?
The clerk at the Housing Court will help you to fill out an Order to Show Cause Directing the Correction of Violations. You will also be given an Order to Show Cause and Petition to fill out. You will need to explain the issue in full and provide evidence that supports your claim. And you can also use this form to highlight any other outstanding issues with your apartment building.
You can also complete an inspection request form, which is obtained from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. This is a good way to collect additional evidence that supports your claim. And you can request an inspection either before or after the first court appearance.
You will usually be charged a filing fee that covers the Housing Preservation proceeding. However, you can file to have the fees waived if you don’t have the funds to pay. In this case, your landlord will be charged the fee if the court rules in your favor.
You will need to provide the following information:
- The name and address of your landlord
- Name and address of the managing agent, if relevant
- Fully completed housing court forms
- Copies of the correspondence between yourself and your landlord
- Receipts for any services you paid for to fix the issue yourself
- Inspection request form
Wait for Your Landlord to be Fined
New York City imposes fines, building violations, and emergency repair liens each day. This means that you shouldn’t have to wait too long to get a result. Your landlord will receive an additional fine each day until the issue is resolved.
What to do if Your Apartment is Too Hot?
Staying in a tiny apartment that is too hot and stuffy can be just as challenging as staying in a freezing apartment. And in older apartment buildings, it might not be possible to control the temperature in individual apartments.
The first step…
You can resolve this by installing a thermostatic radiator valve on your old radiators. This can be used to regulate the amount of heat that comes from the radiator. However, this valve usually costs a couple of hundred dollars, and your landlord might refuse to install it.
If your landlord refuses to resolve the issue, you can take the issue further. You can report an excessive heat violation by calling 311. Once again, make sure you collect evidence in advance to support your claim.
Scalding Hot Water
If the water in your shower is scalding hot, it can have a serious impact on your health. Water that is hotter than above 130°F poses a burn threat. So, if your landlord fails to resolve the issue, you can call 311 to report a scalding hot water violation.
We hope that you now have all the information you need to deal with heating issues in your rented home.
However, we’d like to offer further assistance just in case you need it. For example, you may wish to learn more about The Best Cheap Renters Insurance in New York to safeguard you in situations like this.
Or, let’s say you simply cannot solve the current issue, and you’ve got no choice but to move out of your rented home. And now you’re facing new tenant challenges. Well, why not let us guide you on everything thing from What Is a Credit Reference, the Landlord Credit Check: What to Expect, and 7 Tips for Getting an Apartment Without a Credit Check, to Do I Have Enough Money to Move Out, and How Much Income Should You Spend on Rent in 2023?
Having a crisis?
We’ve got you! Find out exactly everything you need to know about Rent-To-Own Mobile Homes, Emergency Housing Assistance For Felons, Airbnb Monthly Rentals: Pros and Cons, Are Airbnbs More Cost Effective Than Hotels, and much much more!
Just use our website to search for any rental concerns that may come up.
OK, back to…
If you live in New York City, you will know that winters can be extremely cold. Fortunately, the New York City Heat Law is designed to protect renters. This regulation is designed to ensure that all renters can enjoy hot water and heating in their apartments.
If your apartment is too cold and you don’t have hot water, it’s best to contact your landlord first. In most cases, your landlord should resolve the issue as quickly as possible. However, if this doesn’t happen, you may need to make an official complaint and even take your landlord to court.
Wishing you the very best of luck sorting out your heating problems!
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