In case you hadn’t heard, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on February 2nd, which means six more weeks of winter for us. While that may mean another polar vortex with sub-zero temperatures sweeping through Manhattan, you (or your tenants) shouldn’t be suffering from the cold at home. In fact, New York City has strict regulations in place regarding heat. It’s important to know the law and what the repercussions are for landlords who do not maintain the required minimum temperatures.
Current regulations during heat season
Regulations regarding heating in New York City rental units have changed as of October 2017. Heat season officially begins on October 1st and runs until May 31st. During that time, landlords must adhere to the following:
- During the day, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., the temperature inside must be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit if the outside temperature dips below 55 degrees.
- At night, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., it must be at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit inside, regardless of the outside temperature.
What about hot water?
Just like with indoor air temperature, there are also regulations regarding the temperature of the water. Landlords must provide water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit when it comes out of the tap. This regulation is in effect 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.
What to do when left out in the cold
If you find that the inside temperature of your apartment is not being maintained at the required levels, you can enforce your legal rights. First, you should begin by contacting your landlord, building superintendent or manager to alert them to the problem. If you aren’t able to resolve the issue, then it’s time to call 311. The Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) will intervene and send an inspector. If the landlord still doesn’t respond, they will be hit with fines and HPD may even send out a contractor to remedy the problem. Tenants may also be eligible for a break on rent during the time that essential services were not being provided.
It’s important to keep a record of all your communications. Write down the date and details of every phone call, and send written communications via certified mail, return receipt requested. Also consider purchasing a reliable thermometer and keeping a detailed log of dates, times and thermostat readings. This will help you enormously should you end up in court.
What if you’re too hot?
Don’t worry, Goldilocks, there are steps you can also take if your rental unit gets too hot in the winter. Given that many rental buildings rely on antiquated steam systems, it’s almost impossible to control the temperature of your own apartment. There’s an amazing product called The Cozy, an enclosure that insulates your radiator and regulates temperature. It has the added benefit of staying cool to the touch so you can use it as an extra shelf. In addition, depending on the kind of radiator you have, you can have either a thermostatic radiator valve or a solenoid device installed to help you regulate the temperature.
More information about NYC rentals and rental properties
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