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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room


January 30, 2004

Press contact: Carol Abrams (212) 863-5176



New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Jerilyn Perine reminds residential building owners of their legal obligation to provide tenants with 24-hour hot water and heat whenever the outdoor temperature warrants it. There has been record call volume to 311 of tenants complaining about lack of heat.

During heat season, owners of privately-owned multiple dwellings citywide are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6am and 10pm when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10pm and 6am, building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees.

In the event of a heat deficiency, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should call the City's Citizen Service Center at 311. 311 is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. (For hearing-impaired tenants, it is (212) 504-4115 via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD.)

Information on heat season is also available on the HPD web site at

All-time record
6,023 calls in a single day
Set 1/16/04

Prior All-time record
4,083 calls in a single day
Set 1/17/00

Average calls in the winter
1,500 in a single day

Year to date this winter
156,920 heat/hot water calls
10/1/03- 1/29/04

Same period last year
115,708 heat/hot water calls

HPD's litigators started 1,400lawsuits against landlords who incurred heat/hot water violations this winter and collected over $835,000in heat fines. This is a record.

We have 300 Code inspectors in the field. Every available inspector is in the field for the duration of the cold spell. Our inspectors work 24/7.

"We are putting landlords with a history of heat problems on notice, and providing them with education and assistance to encourage compliance," Commissioner Perine said. "Landlords who continue to violate the law will be brought into court."

When an operator receives a complaint, HPD staff will attempt to contact the building's owner or managing agent to get heat or hot water service restored. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, HPD will call the tenant back to determine whether service has been restored. If service has not been restored, an HPD inspector is sent to the building to verify the complaint and issue a violation.

In cases where private owners fail to restore heat and hot water, or when HPD is unable to reach owners, HPD's Emergency Repair Program (ERP) uses in-house staff and private contractors to make the necessary repairs to restore essential services.

The cost of the emergency repairs is billed to the private owner and becomes a tax lien on the property if not paid. The City's Emergency Repair Program is by far the most extensive in the nation.

To help owners better maintain their heat and hot water systems, HPD produced a video called "Heat and Hot Water in Residential Buildings." It is available at no cost through HPD's Owner Services Program by calling 311. HPD's Housing Education Program is also a source of heat training and offers other courses such as how to effectively deal with building finances and caring for the building's heating plant.

HPD is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. A major responsibility of the agency is to encourage preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards.

Fire Safety:

  • Keep portable space heaters at least 3 feet from paper, curtains, furniture, clothing, bedding, or anything else that can burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to bed, and keep children and pets well away from them.

  • Be careful not to overload electrical circuits. Remove electrical cords from under rugs, those nailed to walls and behind radiators. Stop using old or frayed extension cords.

  • Don't use your stove as a heat source.

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