Anyone who has lived in NYC knows that heat and hot water are often included in the rent. But that also means that you are not always in control of the temperature of your apartment.
To protect tenants, there are a set of laws that govern when property managers in New York City are required to turn on the heat and what temperature they must maintain within the building. Here is a closer look at NYC heat laws and what you can do if there is no heat in your apartment.
When is NYC Heat Season?
NYC Heat Season lasts from October 1st through May 31st. During this time, landlords are required to maintain a habitable temperature within the apartment according to the local laws.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development enforces these laws and ensures that landlords meet the requirements. If you live in a building in NYC that has no heat during this period, you should first contact the landlord. But if the problem is not solved within an adequate time frame, you have the right to contact HPD and file a complaint.
What Are NYC Property Managers Required to Provide According to NYC Heat Laws?
According to NYC heat laws, landlords and property managers must provide heat and hot water during heat season. Although it’s typical for landlords in New York to include the costs of some utilities, it varies depending on the buildings.
Landlords are not required to foot the bill but are required to make sure that heat and hot water are readily available. If you are unsure whether or not you have to pay for these utilities, check your lease – it should reveal whether or not heat and hot water are included in the rent.
Also, keep in mind that property managers are only responsible for supplying heat during heat season. So, if you like your room to be at a particular temperature even in the summer, you may have to make other arrangements.
Are NYC Property Managers Required to Provide Heat?
Yes, NYC property managers must provide heat, but only during certain hours. From 6 AM to 10 PM, the landlord must keep the unit at a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. After 10 PM, the unit must be at least 62° Fahrenheit.
If the heating apparatus in the building is broken or damaged, it’s also the property manager’s responsibility to make any repairs or replacements. Landlords are required to provide access to a reliable source of heat at all times during the NYC heating season. So, anything that prevents this is their responsibility to correct.
At what Temperature do NYC Property Managers Have to Turn on Heat?
Property managers must turn on the heat when it reaches 55° Fahrenheit or below outside during the day. The inside of the unit must then be kept at a consistent temperature of at least 68° Fahrenheit. There is no temperature threshold at night, but property managers must maintain a consistent temperature of at least 62° Fahrenheit.
If your apartment is not kept at the correct temperature during the heating season, you have the right to file a complaint or contact your landlord.
What to Do if Your Apartment Has No Heat in NYC?
If your apartment has no heat during heat season, you have a right to take action. The first thing to do is contact your landlord or property manager directly. A simple phone call or text will likely be enough to get them to fix the problem. But, if you are left without heat for a prolonged period, more drastic action may be necessary.
1. Notify Landlord in Writing
Before you take drastic action, you should consider notifying the landlord in writing. A quick phone call or text message may suffice if you believe the lack of heat was a simple oversight. But if you believe the property manager is being negligent, you should send them an email or a letter stating what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. Also, make sure to keep a copy for your records if you need to take them to court.
2. File a Complaint or Call 311 if your Apartment Lacks Heat
If all else fails, you can submit a complaint to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). This can be done by filing a complaint online or calling 311.
This can be a useful strategy if it’s becoming an emergency situation. For example, if you find yourself with no heat in 10° weather with no response from your landlord or property manager, this may be the most sensible option.
It’s always better to work it out privately before contacting the authorities. But if you reach a breaking point and it doesn’t seem like any attempts to remedy the problem are being made, you still have the option of reporting it to the local authorities.
3. Withhold Rent
If the landlord is not responding to your request, you can withhold your rent payment until the heat is fixed. Landlords have a responsibility to maintain a habitable environment for their tenants. Failing to provide adequate heating during the winter months would constitute a failure to uphold this requirement, so you may have a case for withholding the rent until it’s fixed.
But keep in mind that this strategy can also backfire. If you fail to pay the rent for several months, you could get sued for nonpayment of rent. So, make sure to still set aside the rent if the heat is fixed and document the conditions and communications between you and the landlord in case you have to present them in court.
4. Commence an HP Legal Proceeding
If the situation gets serious and nothing is being done to provide adequate heat to the unit you’re renting, you can take legal action. You can pursue an HP proceeding – a case brought against a landlord by a tenant for failure to provide habitable conditions or adhere to proper building codes.
To begin the proceeding, you will need to go down to the local housing court and fill out an “Order to Show Cause Directing the Correction of Violations (HP Action).” You will also be required to fill out a “Verified Petition in Support of an Order to Show Cause Directing the Correction of Violation.” In this form, you should list all conditions needing repair, including the lack of heat.
You may also want to request an HPD inspection to verify that the conditions listed on the form are accurate. You will then submit the forms and be required to pay a court fee. If you cannot pay the court fee, you can apply for relief and have them waive the fee so long as you meet certain income standards.
The clerk will then notarize your application and submit it to a judge who will review the claim. The clerk will also set a hearing date and provide you with papers to serve your landlord and instructions on how to do so.
After that, all you have to do is gather all the paperwork. This includes any proof you have of the lack of heat and correspondence between you and your landlord. Then, present them before the judge on your assigned court date, and they will review the evidence and rule accordingly.
Do I Have to Pay Rent if there is No Heat?
No, you do not have to pay rent if your apartment has no heat. The landlord is required by law to maintain habitable conditions. Failure to provide adequate heating is technically a breach of this responsibility and violates the lease agreement.
However, this strategy can be risky and may often backfire. If you fail to pay the rent on time, your landlord may still take you to court over unpaid rent. Then you may have to hire an attorney to represent you, and there is no telling how the court will rule. Even if the court rules in your favor, you may still spend additional money fighting the case.
The smarter thing to do is report the situation to the local authorities and commence an HP proceeding if necessary. While withholding rent may get your landlord’s attention, it may anger them, which could make the situation more difficult to deal with. Typically the threat of fines levied by the HPD will be far more effective at getting your landlord to attend to the issue than withholding the rent.