City Council to Consider Higher Heating Requirements After Committee Passes Bill

Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, Council Member Jumaane Williams. Image credit: NYCC/William Alatriste

Committee on Housing and Buildings voted to raise minimum heating requirements and to uncouple the requirement from outside overnight temperatures. On May 22, 2017, the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings recalled and passed a bill to require owners of residential buildings to maintain a minimum temperature in dwelling units that are occupied. Current law requires a minimum temperature to be maintained during heating season which is defined as the period between October 1 and May 31. The bill was co-sponsored by Chair Jumaane Williams, Council Member Mark Levine and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

The bill would amend existing law to require that during heating season between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., the inside temperature must be kept at 68 degrees Fahrenheit whenever the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the inside temperature would be required to be maintained at 62 degrees regardless of the temperature outside. This is a change from the current law which only requires the overnight temperature to be at 55 degrees whenever the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees.

At a hearing on January 14, 2016, a representative from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development testified in favor of the bill. HPD is charged with enforcing the Building Code regarding residential heating. In the 2014/2015 heating season, HPD received 208,000 complaints and issued 4,484 violations regarding inadequate heat. When building owners are nonresponsive HPD will fund necessary repairs. In the 2014/2015 heat season HPD spent $2.2 million for repairs.

The HPD representative testified that enforcement of the current code was difficult because the minimum residential temperature was dependent on outside temperature, which means that violations could change to compliance depending on the time of day. Combining with the fact that people may still feel cold at the current minimum temperatures results in the vast difference between complaints and violations.

The bill passed the committee by a vote of 7-1. Council Member Eric Ulrich voted in the negative. The bill may be voted on by the full City Council on May 24, 2017.

By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.