New York City can get staggeringly cold during late autumn and winter months in any given year, making apartment dwellers painfully aware — in the most literal sense — when their heat and hot water isn’t being supplied in the manner it should be.
When that isn’t the case, occupants in dwellings with central heating need not passively acquiesce to landlord conduct that is either negligent or that willfully seeks to cut costs and unlawfully pocket money through depriving tenants of minimum comforts safeguarded by law.
As a tenant, you should know you have the right to have heat and hot water consistently supplied to you, and quick access to legal remedies with teeth if that is not the case. No New York tenant should suffer from physical discomfort relating to dwelling-related conditions that do not minimally conform to legal requirements. A tenant is also entitled to a rent abatement for days without heat or hot water, or a rent freeze. It is best to consult with an attorney, however, before taking any action (like withholding rent) that could lead to a housing court eviction case.
It was the case until recently that inside temperatures had to be at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from October 1 through May 31 if the outside temperature fell below 40 degrees.
As noted on the website of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), that outside temperature threshold no longer applies. Regardless of what the weather is doing outside during this upcoming Heat Season, indoor thermostats must register at least 62 degrees.
Daytime temperature requirements remain the same as in prior years, that is, inside temperatures must be at least 68 degrees between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. if the outdoor temperature is below 55 degrees.
Regarding hot water, The HPD site flatly notes that it “must be provided 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Tenants with complaints should not hesitate to contact the HPD. In the event that a problem is not timely responded to, the city can effect repairs through private contractors and bill the landlord. Additionally, costs can pile up quickly from fines levied for uncorrected heat and/or hot water violations.