Your landlord’s obligations are covered by New York’s heat laws and by the Truth in Heating Act. 

Here’s what you need to know.

The Truth in Heating Law

New York’s Truth in Heating law has been in effect since January 1, 1981. 

If you are a tenant in any New York City apartment where you’ll be expected to pay directly for heating and cooling expenses, landlords must provide you with a complete set of heating and cooling bills or a summary of the bills. 

The Truth in Heating Act also covers building sales. 

This set of bills must either cover the previous two years or the life of the residential structure, whichever is shorter. 

This law allows you to receive accurate information that will help you assess energy costs at a prospective apartment and determine whether those costs are within your budget before you sign the lease. 

Note that if you want this information, you must request this information before you sign the lease. The law does not require landlords to furnish this information to current tenants, only to prospective ones. You may make an oral or a written request, though a written request is always stronger and provides you with more legal protections. Landlords may not charge you any fee for providing this information. 

If a landlord fails to abide by this law, you’ll have grounds to complain to the New York State Consumer Protection Board. Our office strongly recommends avoiding apartments that fail to furnish the required information. A landlord willing to break this fairly basic administrative law will have few qualms about breaking others. 

New York Heat Laws

If you are not required to pay for heating and cooling expenses, keep in mind that NYC heat laws require owners and property managers to provide hot water year-round and heat during the winter months, stretching from October 1st to May 31st. The temperature inside your home must be at least 68 degrees any time the temperature outside drops below 55 degrees between 6 AM and 10 PM. Otherwise, it’s expected to be at least 62 degrees. 

Property managers must correct the problem within 24 hours of receiving your report if the heat goes out. 

Note: if you’re paying your heating bill and the heat still goes out, the landlord must fix the problem. They are responsible for maintaining HVAC systems in your buildings.

Is your apartment cold right now? 

If your building manager refuses to turn on the heat, you should contact a tenant’s rights lawyer immediately. 

You have remedies, but if you exercise them incorrectly, you might find yourself on the wrong end of an eviction suit. We can help you exercise your rights while protecting your tenancy. 

See also:

Your Right to Safety as a New York Tenant

You Have Rights if Your Landlord Does Not Maintain Services 

Thousands of New York Renters Are Going Without Heat, Hot Water

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