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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eric Bederman 212-863-5176


HPD COMMISSIONER CESTERO ANNOUNCES BEGINNING OF 2010/2011 "HEAT SEASON" AND REMINDS LANDLORDS OF LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE HEAT AND HOT WATER TO TENANTS

HPD Inspectors Completed 123,608 Heat and Hot Water Inspections Over 2009/2010 Heat Season
 
New York, NY - New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero today reminded residential building owners of their legal obligation to provide tenants with hot water year-round and heat when the outdoor temperature warrants it.

The 2010/2011 “heat season” begins tomorrow, October 1, 2010 and continues through May 31, 2011. During heat season, residential owners with tenants are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M., 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.

“There’s no excuse for a property owner to put their tenants’ health and safety at risk because they’ve failed to provide heat and hot water during winter’s coldest months. With ownership comes responsibility, and the City of New York expects that responsibility to be followed to the letter of the law,” said HPD Commissioner Cestero. “We want to be sure New Yorkers know their rights, and if their landlords aren’t taking action to provide heat, they should call 311 to notify HPD and our dedicated staff of inspectors who are here to help.

“The majority of landlords want to do the right thing for their tenants, and they can reach out to HPD as well if they need help complying with heat season regulations. We are always ready to work with them to provide the educational tools and other assistance that may be available. But landlords should be aware that in those cases where they don’t take action, HPD will step in and make the repairs, which will be charged as a lien against their property.”

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 which is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The City's Citizen Service Center can also receive complaints from hearing-impaired tenants via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD at (212) 504-4115.

When an operator receives a complaint, HPD staff attempts 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, if warranted, issue a violation. HPD fields a team of inspectors working in shifts, situated in offices throughout all five boroughs to provide coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For situations that warrant the deployment of additional crews, such as prolonged periods of below freezing temperatures, the agency will deploy additional inspectors, as well as maintenance staff to any given shift, sometimes doubling the normal number to help respond to complaints and emergencies.

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) may use 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.

HPD also may initiate legal action against properties issued heat violations.  In January 2004, Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation that increased the civil penalty range for heat and hot water violations from $250 to a maximum of $500 per day for first violations. Further, the bill established a new penalty structure for subsequent violations at the same location, within the same calendar year, with penalties ranging from $500 to $1000 per day. This was the first increase in penalties in over 20 years.  Owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and to continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies. Owners may also be required to attend training on proper heating plant operations and how to responsibly reduce heating expenses while maintaining adequate heat services.

During the 2009/2010 heat season (October 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010):

  • 203,105 heat and hot water problems were reported to the City through 311.
  • HPD inspectors made 123,608 heat-related inspections.
  • HPD inspectors wrote 10,806 heat-related violations.
  • HPD completed a total of $5,391,723 million in heat-related emergency repairs (charged to building owners).
  • HPD filed 3,370 heat cases in court and collected $1,932,858 in fines.
    • Heat cases filed by borough:
      • Manhattan:       361
      • Bronx:              1,019
      • Brooklyn:         1,467
      • Queens:            418
      • Staten Island:    105 

      Top Five Community Boards for Heat/Hot Water Complaints (July 2009 – June 2010):

      • Manhattan
        • CB 12: 5,365 complaints logged (peak month 12/09: 1,073 complaints)
        • Total Manhattan complaints 7/09-6/10: 21,744
      • Bronx
        • CB 7: 1,179 complaints logged (peak month 12/09: 5,405 complaints)
        • Total Bronx complaints: 33,709
      • Brooklyn
        • CB 17: 4,325 complaints logged (peak month 12/09: 937 complaints)
        • Total Brooklyn complaints 7/09-6/10: 39,196
      • Queens
        • CB 12: 2,794 complaints logged (peak month 12/09: 588 complaints)
        • Total Queens complaints 7/09-6/10: 17,472
      • Staten Island
        • CB 1: 1,443 complaints logged (peak month 12/09: 292 complaints)
        • Total Staten Island complaints 7/09-6/10: 1,883

        Information on heat season is also available on the HPD website at www.nyc.gov/hpd. As part of HPD’s commitment to providing information to non-English speaking New Yorkers, HPD has produced magnets with heat season requirements in twelve different languages. The magnets can be picked up at HPD’s Division of Code Enforcement borough offices listed below:

        • Manhattan: 94 Old Broadway, 7th Floor, Phone: 212-234-2531
        • Bronx: 1932 Arthur Avenue, Phone: 718-579-6790
        • Brooklyn: 701 Euclid Avenue, Phone: 718-827-1942 or 210 Joralemon Street, Room 806, Phone: 718-802-3662
        • Queens: 120-55 Queens Blvd (Borough Hall), First Floor, Phone: 718-286-0800
        • Staten Island: Staten Island Borough Hall, Phone: 718-816-2340

        HPD also works with building owners who want to improve the management of their buildings or need assistance with improving their heating systems. Building owners and managers can access HPD’s e-learning course online at www.nyc.gov/hpd to learn about heat and hot water regulations, HPD’s processes and heating system maintenance. 

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        About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)
        HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, the preservation or creation of more than 108,000 affordable homes has been financed. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd




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