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Posted on 12/8/2010
“It’s time to turn up the heat on landlords who leave their tenants out in the cold,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Too many New Yorkers have faced the last two days of below-freezing temperatures without any heat or hot water. We need to strengthen penalties for breaking the law so there is no longer any economic incentive to withhold heat and hot water from tenants.”
The 114,004 reports detailed today were collected by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development and are broken down by community board district. The community boards with the highest number of heat and hot water complaints between July 2009 and June 2010 are:
1. Bronx Community Board 7 (Fordham,
3. Bronx Community Board 4 (Highbridge,
4. Bronx Community Board 5 (
As part of the campaign, Public Advocate de Blasio’s NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List (www.advocate.nyc.gov/landlord-watchlist) now features snowflake icons in the profile of each building with heat and hot water violations
“We’re talking about a basic service that cannot and must not be denied. Can you imagine living more than a day or two without heat and hot water?” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “The problem is that there is a fundamental flaw in our system and it’s far too easy for landlords to ignore violations. Some landlords view the low penalties as irrelevant and have negligently refused to make repairs as a form of tenant harassment. We cannot allow this to continue.”
To compel landlords to repair broken heating systems, Public Advocate de Blasio has introduced the H.E.A.T. Act in City Council. Under the bill, fines for repeat offenders would no longer reset to lower levels at the start of every calendar year. Landlords would continue to pay escalated fines for a full two years after their first violation. The measure would also generate additional revenue for the City. At the State level, the Public Advocate is pursuing legislation that would fast-track emergency repairs for heating systems, and make it more difficult for landlords to evade paying heat and hot water fines.
“Adequate heat and hot water is a basic right for tenants,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the Council’s General Welfare Committee. “There is simply no excuse that more than 100,000 New Yorkers went without heat and hot water over the last year. Violations for failing to provide heat should be something to avoid, not a cost of doing business “
“If you pay rent, you are entitled to heat and hot water. Landlords who refuse to follow the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and fined. I am glad Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is taking the necessary steps to increase penalties for these crimes that landlords often ignore without fear. The tenants of our city deserve fair treatment,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams.
“The H.E.A.T. Act is the beginning of the reforms needed to bring rogue landlords who refuse to meet their legal obligations to their tenants by providing heat and hot water into compliance,” said Council Member James Sanders. “It is a shame that we must force human beings to provide the basic humane service of heat and hot water. The H.E.A.T. Act is step one in our response to these inhumane landlords.”
“We must hold landlords more accountable for failing to provide basic housing necessities such as heat and hot water,” said Council Member Al Vann. “The H.E.A.T. Act will increase the pressure on landlords, who shortchange their tenants, by increasing the punishments of their disgraceful behavior.”
“It may not be winter officially, but flurries in the first week of December are just a taste of the chill that is to come in the upcoming months,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Ensuring that tenants have access to the hot water and heat they so rightly deserve and need during these frigid winter months is critical to their health and quality of life. I stand strongly with Public Advocate de Blasio in turning up the heat on landlords who leave their tenants out in the cold.”
“Since this cold snap has started, I have received dozens of calls from tenants in my district who haven’t had heat,” said Council Member Steve Levin. “Landlords who do not immediately respond to heat and hot water failure must be immediately held accountable for any laps. This H.E.A.T. Act is a great step to ensuring that every tenant in
“I commend Public Advocate de Blasio for his H.E.A.T. Act and raising the critical and intolerable problem of no heat and no hot water in far too many buildings in the 16th C.D. When we look further, we usually find that these same buildings have dozens of other major violations which need to be addressed immediately after restoring heat and hot water,” said Council Member Helen Foster.
Landlords are currently assessed a maximum fine of $500 per unit, per day for the first heat or hot water violation, and up to $1,000 per unit, per day for subsequent violations. While the current law returns all landlords to the lower fine of $500 for violations each January 1st, the H.E.A.T. Act (Intro. 951) would require a landlord to go a full two years without violations before their fines would return to the $500 level. The bill currently has 15 supporters in City Council.
At the State level, Public Advocate de Blasio is backing S3857, a bill sponsored by State Senator Liz Krueger that would establish new administrative tribunals to rapidly correct housing code violations like failing heat systems. This would provide tenants with a faster and more effective way to secure urgent repairs, rather than wait at great length for their complaint to be heard in housing court. And to prevent landlords from routinely settling their fines in court for a small fraction of the initial payment, the Public Advocate is also pursuing State legislation that would establish new mandatory minimum fines for failing to provide heat and hot water.
“We applaud this effort to focus attention on the lack of heat and hot water. Already thousands of New Yorkers are without heat just as the temperatures are plunging. This bill sends a strong message to landlords that refusing to provide heat will not be tolerated,” said Steve Banks, Attorney in Charge of The Legal Aid Society.
“We applaud the public advocate in his ongoing effort to hold landlords accountable to their tenants. It is a right in
“Many of the speculative investors who have bought up our city’s affordable housing deliberately fail to provide heat and hot water as a mechanism for pushing out the low and moderate income tenants. And they do this with shocking impunity. We commend the Public Advocate’s office for taking a strong stance against these unscrupulous tactics by proposing to increase the penalties these landlords will face for their actions,” said Maggie Russell-Ciardi, Executive Director of Tenants & Neighbors.
“AAFE applauds the Public Advocate and the members of the City Council for introducing this important legislation. For years, tenants have been seeking out AAFE for assistance on this exact issue. In fact, turning off heat and hot water in the winter is one of tactics used by predatory landlords to harass tenants out of their rent regulated homes. This legislation will help protect an absolute necessity for all tenants throughout
“As winter comes into full swing, more and more tenants across central
Any tenants who are unable to immediately resolve their heat and hot water complaints by calling 311 are urged to call the Public Advocate hotline at (212) 669-7250.