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March 2, 2011 11:30 AM   Subscribe

NYC Landlord filter - in my apartment building, each of the apartments has their own gas hookup, but the landlord has not turned on the heat for the communal areas (hallways, etc.) Is this against the law?

To be clear, we are none of us freezing to death. We get our own gas bill, have our own furnace, and we have no problem with the warmth of our building. The thing is that the communal areas (hallways, foyer, etc.) are unheated because the landlord has deliberately refused to pay the heating bills. Tenants who have been there for a while told us that the heat used to be on, and the resultant hallway warmth made our individual heating bills much cheaper.

I'm wondering if the landlord is legally required to provide heat to communal areas. I'm not really sure that I'm even interested in prusuing this, as it would very likely just make my living situation much much worse. But it would save us money, and I'm just curious if it's against the law.
posted by to sir with millipedes to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pretty sure he's not required to heat common areas as long as it isn't causing damage.
posted by boots at 11:36 AM on March 2, 2011

Call 311 and ask/complain.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Is it mentioned in your lease?
posted by tomswift at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2011


Under the warranty of habitability, tenants have the right to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment. This is a right that is implied in every written or oral residential lease. Any lease provision that waives this right is contrary to public policy and is therefore void. Examples of a breach of this warranty include the failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or the failure to rid an apartment of an insect infestation. Public areas of the building are also covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability also applies to cooperative apartments, but not to condominiums. Any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant or persons under the tenant’s direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. Real Property Law §235-b.

In short, yes.

You also might be interested to know that if there are boilers in individual apartments, the landlord is still required to have yearly inspection and maintenance performed at the beginning of heating season.
posted by patnasty at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Good point, but it's more complicated than that. NYC has very precise temp requirements during heating season, and they are actually quite low. I assume, though I don't know, that the heat loss from the apartments is enough to keep the hallway above the threshold, and the warranty of habitability is not being breached, even though the tenants are footing the bill.
posted by boots at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2011

In NYC heat must available between October 31st and May 31st.
posted by brookeb at 6:17 PM on March 2, 2011

Check to make sure that the temperature in the public areas falls below the legal limit (which is QUITE chilly, in my opinion) during both day and night (and get proof) before you make any noise. It's entirely possible that while he's not actively heating the public areas, they are still within the legal range of temperatures, especially now that it's warmed up. He might have figured out that he could save some money without breaking the letter of the law.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:42 PM on March 2, 2011

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