Insider's tips to resolve heating, hot water complaints

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Insider's tips to resolve heating, hot water complaints
It's heat season in NYC and 7 On Your Side has an insider's tips to resolve a complaint and turn up the temperature on your landlord. Nina Pineda has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- We are more than two months into the "heat season" and landlords must, by law, keep apartments above certain temperatures.

But what are your rights when it comes to the basics of heat and hot water? 7 On Your Side has tips from an expert on how to turn up the heat on your landlord.

If your hot water's cold and your heat isn't working, that's a problem.

The stats are a little frosty. Where are residents coldest? As of this week, according to the number of heating complaints across NYC, they're shivering in the Bronx, where over 22,450 calls were made to 311.

That is followed by Brooklyn at just about 18,000 and Manhattan at 15,000 complaints.

But they're far less cold in Queens with just 9,500 complaints -- and Staten Island is apparently the warmest borough with just 805 complaints as of Monday.

Adolfo Carrion Jr., the Commissioner of NYC Housing Preservation and Development, says HPDs mission is to resolve complaints quickly.

"Within two days, just beyond two days, we fixed these problems, we got 230,000 heat and hot water complaints last heat season, so it's a lot incoming but we're ready, we have a workforce of inspectors that will run out there to fix these problems," Carrion said.

Compared to this time last year, the number of heating complaints is up nearly 14.8%.

So, what are your moves if you have no or low heat and hot water? Tenants have rights, and not just in New York City, but many towns across the Tri-State enforce heat requirements as well.

At the Legal Aid Society office in Harlem, tenants who come for help are encouraged to keep a record.

"You should definitely get a thermometer and check what the temperature is," said attorney-in-charge Munonyedi Clifford with the Legal Aid Society. "And keep a heat log and that's not anything fancy, it keeps a record of what the temperature is in your apartment and what the temperature is outside."

In NYC, the heat season runs eight months from October 1 to the end of May.

If outside temperatures fall to 55 degrees or below, the inside temperature must be a minimum of 68 degrees during the day and 62 or higher overnight.

"Those are pretty liberal, it's not a big ask," Clifford said.

The attorney in charge of the citywide housing practice at Legal Aid said the first step is to contact your landlord, if you can in writing, so there's a record.

"Give them a call, send then email or text," Clifford said.

If you get no response from your management company or landlord, call 311 and keep a record of the 311 code, the date, and the time you made the complaint.

The city should send out a housing inspector to your apartment and they will check the condition.

311 says they're presently taking two to three days to respond to complaints. If they find a violation, heat and hot water are a Class C violation and the landlord has 24 hours to rectify that situation.

"You can also bring your landlord to court," Clifford said. "You can file what is called a housing part, or a HP case, against you landlord for the lack of heat."

NYCHA or rent-regulated tenants can file an action for reduction of services and should request a rent reduction for the period of time they're without adequate heat or hot water. They can also contact advocacy groups.

And remember: never try to warm up with stove top burners or your oven on -- it's a danger of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Click here to make a complaint in New York City and click here to make a complaint in New Jersey.

ALSO READ | 7 On Your Side's Holiday Shopping Guide

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