HPD Releases Stats and Guidance as City’s Heat Season Begins

Image Credit: HPD

The agency received over 98,000 unique complaints about heat or hot water last season. On October 1, 2020, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced the start of the 2020 – 2021 heat season, in which all residential building owners are required to maintain specific indoor temperatures. From October 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021, building owners must maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees when outdoor temperatures are below 55 degrees during the daytime and a minimum of 62 degrees indoors overnight regardless of the outdoor temperature. Hot water must be provided at 120 degrees year-round. 

If tenants do not have adequate heat or hot water, they should first notify the building owner, superintendent or managing agent. The tenant should then register a complaint with 311 if service is not restored by calling 311, visiting the 311 website or using the 311Mobile app. HPD also encourages tenants to check the HPD website for updates on the complaint. Updates are also available to tenants by text message. Failures by a landlord to provide heat entirely will result in intervention by HPD’s Emergency Repair Program or Housing Litigation Division. HPD plans to continue enforcement of heat and hot water rules even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

Low-income property owners who are having difficulties maintaining heat in their homes can contact the State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Home Energy Assistance Program at 1-800-692-0557. Assistance may be available for paying heating bills or repairing heating equipment for eligible households.

HPD also shared statistics on the previous “heat season”. During the 2019-2020 “heat season,” over 170,000 heat and hot water problems were reported to the City from 98,320 unique sources. HPD inspectors attempted over 100,000 heat and/or hot water inspections and wrote 3,547 heat and 5,164 hot water violations. This was a decrease in both as compared to the 2018-2019 “heat season”. Last season, HPD completed $1.1 million in heat-related emergency repairs, which were billed to the respective property owners. HPD filed 1,662 heat cases in court and received $834,497 in civil penalties. The average time between when a complaint was received to the inspection was 2.1 days, an improvement from the year prior. 

HPD also noted the top community boards that had heat or hot water complaints in each borough during the 2019-2020 “heat season”: 

– Manhattan Community Board 12 (Inwood and Washington Heights) had 11,954 complaints. 

– Bronx Community Board 5 (Fordham, University Heights, Morris Heights, Bathgate and Mount Hope) had 10,243 complaints.

– Brooklyn Community Board 14 (Flatbush, Midwood, Kensington and Ocean Parkway) had 5,850 complaints.

– Queens Community Board 4 (Corona, Corona Heights, Elmhurst and Newtown) had 4,510 complaints.

– Staten Island Community Board 1 (Arlington, Castleton Corners, Clifton, Concord, Elm Park, Fort Wadsworth, Graniteville, Grymes Hill, Livingston, Mariners Harbor, Meiers Corners, New Brighton, Port Ivory, Port Richmond, Randall Manor, Rosebank, St. George, shore Acres, Silver Lake, Stapleton, Sunnyside, Tompkinsville, West Brighton, Westerleigh) had 1,071 complaints. 

State Senator Brian Kavanagh, chair of the Senate Housing Committee, stated, “As we continue our efforts to protect New Yorkers during this pandemic, it is essential that we get the basics right, including ensuring that everyone has access to safe and decent living conditions. So it’s a good time to remind tenants and landlords that our heat and hot water laws are in effect.” 

HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll stated, “HPD Housing Inspectors and Emergency Repair staff are among the unsung heroes of this crisis, carrying out inspections and emergency repairs for the most serious conditions in the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.  We will continue to rely on their dedication this coming winter as they work to ensure heat and hot water is provided as required by law. If your apartment is without heat or hot water during the cold weather months, report it to your landlord. If the condition is not corrected, report it to 311. HPD takes every complaint seriously and will hold owners accountable to the law.”

By:  Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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