Know Your Rights: Every New Yorker Deserves Heat and Hot Water

NYC’s Heat and Hot Water Requirements for Tenants Heat 

As we enter November and temperatures begin to drop, New Yorkers are preparing themselves and their homes for the chilly winter months.  For homeowners, this means checking heating systems and stocking up on rock salt, but what can the 5.8 million renters who call NYC home do to prepare themselves and their families?

This blog aims to answer that question by explaining NYC’s heat and hot water requirements for tenants, how to file a complaint if your apartment is unheated, and what kind of assistance you can expect from NYC Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) if your building owner fails to provide critical utilities like heat and hot water to your home.

Home Heating Standards

The NYC HPD maintains the following standards regarding heat:

  1. Building owners must provide tenants with a minimum level of heat through a radiator or other built-in heating system (not a space heater) during “Heat Season,” which runs from October 1st through May 31st.
  2. If outside temperatures drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, buildings must be heated to a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm.
  3. If outside temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, buildings must be heated to a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm.

Hot Water Standards

The NYC HPD maintains the following standards regarding hot water:Hot Water Testing

  1. All housing units must have access to hot water at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, regardless of outside temperatures.

What to do if these requirements are not met

In the event your utilities do not meet these standards, HPD recommends you first speak to your landlord/property manager/building owner to alert them to the problem.  In this conversation, be sure to get an estimate for when repairs are expected to be completed.

If for any reason repairs are not made in a timely fashion, HPD recommends tenants take the following steps:

  1. Contact 311 and file a complaint, providing your address, contact information, and any contact information you have for your building owner.
  2. HPD will then contact the building manager to alert them that a complaint has been made.
  3. HPD will then follow up with the tenant who lodged the complaint or another tenant in the building. If heat has not been restored or no tenants can be reached, HPD will send an inspector to the building for an inspection.
  4. If there are any heat or hot water issues in either the tenant’s apartment or another apartment in the building, a violation will be issued to the building owner, ranging from $250 for an initial violation up to $1,000 for each subsequent day utilities are not provided. The city can also independently hire work crews to make necessary repairs and bill the building owner for any costs incurred.

In a city where more older adults are choosing to “age in place” every year, SelectCare Home Care Services applauds the efforts of those working in Housing Preservation & Development office to ensure vulnerable New Yorkers are kept warm and safe during the winter months.

While this oversight and repair program is designed to as accessible as possible, help can only come once HPD is aware of the problem.  Home health care service agencies like SelectCare offer clients countless benefits, including oversight and advocacy. By choosing to bring a home health caregiver into your home and working with an agency, clients enjoy a second set of eyes and ears, as well as the help of home care specialists familiar with the countless city programs designed to help those who need it most.

To learn more about these programs or how SelectCare’s team of home health care experts can help you or your loved one live comfortably and independently at home, call us today.