Your landlord has certain obligations to make sure your apartment is livable.

Those obligations include providing hot water year-round and heating during “heat season.” Heat season runs from October 1st to May 31st each year. We’re still a few months out…but knowing your rights is important before heat season begins.

For one thing, landlords in New York City frequently violate these laws. In 2019, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development received over 3,000 heat-related complaints. Many other heat-related problems go unreported every year. 

How much heat is required?

Hot water must be provided at a minimum temperature of 120 degrees. Inside temperatures should be at least 68 degrees during heat season during the day and at least 62 degrees at night. 

What’s the first step you should take if your NYC apartment lacks heat during the heat season?

Notify your landlord in writing and request a repair. Keep a copy of all correspondence. If a dispute arises later, you want to show that you took reasonable steps to pursue a repair from the moment the heat went out. 

In most NYC apartments, written notice that the heat is out is enough to spark a same-day repair. 

If it’s 12 degrees or colder outside, if your landlord refuses to respond to your maintenance request, or if you’ve been waiting days for heat, you can file a complaint with the city online or call 311 to report your lack of heat. The city will begin putting pressure on your landlord to fix the problem. The city will close the complaint once you indicate the problem has been corrected. If HPD can’t reach you or the problem is not corrected, HPD will send a uniformed Code Enforcement inspector. The landlord will be sent a Notice of Violation if the inspector finds a violation.

You want to report before you take more drastic measures because reporting gives you more evidence to work with if you have to take your case to court. Plus, reporting might solve the problem. 

Can you withhold the rent if your NYC apartment lacks heat during the heat season?

Yes, but if you plan to take that step, you should work with a NYC landlord-tenant lawyer like me. Your landlord might countersue for non-payment of rent. You need to be ready if that happens. There are steps you can take, but you’ll want a lawyer to help you take them.

Plus, you can’t just spend that money. You need to set it aside because, eventually, the Court will set an amount to be paid. That amount could go anywhere from $0 all the way up to your full rental amount. Courts are unpredictable, so you should be ready to pay every penny. 

Get Help Today

If your attempts to get the heat on are unsuccessful this winter, don’t delay. Call McAdams Law to get help today. 

See also:

What to Do if Your New York Landlord Won’t Make Repairs

Your Right to Safety as a New York Tenant

Renter’s Rights When Exposed to Toxic Mold

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