The City Housing Maintenance Code and State Multiple Dwelling Law require building owners to provide heat and hot water to all tenants. Building owners must provide hot water 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Between October 1st and May 31st, a period designated as “Heat Season,” building owners are also required to provide tenants with heat under the following conditions:
Between the hours of 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM, if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit; and,
Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM, if the temperature outside falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
To see if there are any open heat and hot water violations on the property or to check the status of your heat and hot water complaint, click here.
Tenants who are cold in their apartments should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should call the City’s Customer Service Center at 311 (311 can be accessed outside of New York City by dialing (212) NEW YORK). For the hearing impaired, the TTY number is (212) 504-4115. The Center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. (You may also file a complaint at 311ONLINE for heat and hot water conditions.)
After the City’s Customer Service Center receives a complaint, HPD attempts to contact the building’s owner or managing agent to advise them that a complaint has been received. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, HPD may also attempt to contact the tenant 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 the appropriate violation. In cases where private owners fail to restore heat and hot water after the issuance of a violation HPD’s Emergency Repair Program (ERP) may contract with private companies to make the necessary repairs to restore essential services and bill the owner for the cost of the repairs to the property. The City is subject to laws governing procurement, contracting, wages, and other matters that may make such work significantly more expensive than the price the owner could obtain if he/she performed or contracted for the work. The City will bill for the cost of the emergency repair plus related fees. If the property owner fails to pay, the City will file a tax lien against the property. The tax lien will bear interest and may be sold and/or foreclosed to collect the amount the owner owes through the City’s Tax Lien Sale process, even if no other tax-related charges are unpaid.
PENALTIES AND FEES
Beginning in June 2012, pursuant to changes in the Housing Maintenance Code, there are some new provisions regarding the penalties for heat and hot water violations.
Eligibility for payment in satisfaction of civil penalties
If a heat violation is the first such violation issued during the current or prior heat season, or a hot water violation is the first such violation issued during the current or previous calendar year, an owner may be eligible to satisfy the penalty by submitting a $250 payment with a timely Notice of Correction. The Notice of Violation that the owner receives in the mail will clearly indicate whether the violation is eligible for payment in satisfaction of civil penalties. An owner who chooses to submit a Notice of Correction and payment in satisfaction may do so by submitting a paper Notice of Correction or by using eCertification. (You can find out more information on eCertification on HPD’s website, www.nyc/hpd.) The Notice of Correction indicates that the violation has been corrected by the owner or an agent or employee of the owner within 24 hours of the affixing of the notice of such violation (which is the same as the date of the inspection where the inspector identified the lack of heat and/or hot water). The payment of $250 must be submitted with the Notice of Correction to the department within 10 days of affixing the notice of such violation. Payment can be made via credit card or debit card on-line only (there is a 2.49% convenience fee for credit cards; Visa is not accepted at this time), or by certified check or money order if submitting the Notice of Correction by mail. Just because an owner is eligible to pay does not mean that the owner must take advantage of the option; owners may choose to not pay the $250. However, if the Notice of Correction and payment are not received within the 10 day period, then HPD may commence a proceeding for an order to correct and to recover civil penalties in Housing Court.
For a third or any subsequent inspection which results in a heat violation within the same heat season (October through May) or for a third or any subsequent inspection which results in a hot water violation within a calendar year, HPD will charge a fee of $200 for the inspection. In addition to this fee, the owner is still also subject to any civil penalties that may be imposed by the Housing Court. This fee is not paid directly to HPD, but will be billed to the owner though the Department of Finance; the owner will see the charge on the Statement of Account from DOF on the quarterly bill following the inspection. All fees that remain unpaid shall constitute a debt recoverable from the owner and a lien upon the premises. Should the lien exceed $1000 for more than 1 year, the liens may subject you to the New York City Tax Lien Sale. Through this process, the lien may be sold to a third party, who may foreclose on the property if the lien is not paid.
Beginning in October 2012, pursuant to changes in the Housing Maintenance Code, the following changes to civil penalties become effective:
If HPD commences a proceeding, the agency can seek the following penalties, from and including the date that the Notice of Violation is posted at the building until the date that the violation is corrected:
• $250-$500 dollars per day for each initial heat or hot water violation
• $500-$1,000 per day for each subsequent violation at the same building during the same and/or the next calendar year from the initial violation or, in the case of § 27-2029(a), during the same and/or the next heat season
If the owner fails to pay the Court ordered civil penalties, HPD will enter a judgment against the owner and the property and seek to enforce that judgment.
If a property owner wants more information or needs some assistance understanding the laws governing heat and hot water, HPD offers an online class which provides information about the law governing heat and hot water provision and helpful hints about maintaining your heating system. HPD’s Public Outreach and Education Program offers courses for owners, managing agents, and superintendents on “Basic Property Management and Maintenance,” including caring for the building’s heating plant.
To obtain a Frequently Asked Questions document on heat and hot water click here.