When brutally cold temperatures hit New York City, as they have this winter, renters are at the mercy of their landlords for their comfort and safety. The city has received some 22,000 complaints from New Yorkers about lack of heat or hot water.

A nurse who lives in East Harlem says, “The heat and hot water there has been on and off since Thanksgiving.” She added, “It’s ridiculous.” Tenants have been using space heaters and electric blankets to stay warm in the frigid temperatures. These can be fire hazards.

New Yorkers who live in public housing run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been particularly hard hit. Mayor Bill de Blasio blames the age of the buildings — some of which are 70 years old. He says that “they have not gotten the kind of upkeep they needed for decades.” He explained, “The federal government started moving away from support for public housing back in the ’80s,” which is why “we’ve got a lot of buildings with really old boilers.”

New Yorkers who live in privately-owned apartment buildings haven’t necessarily been spared. Some, including those who are pregnant or have medical conditions, have moved to hotels or other locations to stay warm. One woman who works with WeCare New York says that “private landlords are getting away with this and people have to live in deplorable conditions.”

New York renters who are living in uncomfortable or unsafe conditions need to notify their landlords or property owners immediately. If you are not getting any relief, determine what your legal options are.

Source: New York Daily News, “City hit with 22,000 heat and hot water complaints from renters during arctic freeze,” Andy Mai, Christina Carrega, Erin Durkin and Reuven Blau, Jan. 8, 2018

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