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Cold Weather Safety
What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home

The heat season begins on October 1 and continues through May 31. During heat season, residential owners with tenants are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6 AM and 10 PM when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10 PM and 6 AM, building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees. Hot water is required to be maintained at 120 degrees.

Any New York City tenant without adequate heat or hot water should first speak with the building owner, manager, or superintendent. If the problem is not corrected, tenants should call 311. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that your heat and hot water is restored. This may include contacting the building’s owner or sending an inspector to verify the complaint or issue a violation. In some cases, HPD will call in emergency contractors to resolve the issue and bill the landlord for the repairs. HPD also may initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum penalties and to continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies.

Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until heat returns, including:

  • Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.
  • Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered, loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you have a working fireplace, use it for heat and light, but be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation.
  • If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.
  • Never use a kerosene or propane space heater, charcoal grill, or generator indoors or near the home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.
  • If a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home, call 911, quickly open a nearby window, and go outside for fresh air immediately.
  • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.