Heatless in NYC
November 25, 2013 6:50 PM   Subscribe

My apartment has no heat. How long must I wait for a response from my landlord before I report them to the NYC housing authority?

The Facts:
- The heat constantly broke all last winter. To the point where my roommate (whom I sublet from) stopped even complaining and we lived off space heaters.
- I have called, texted and emailed today. First contact around 5pm. No response.
- I am moving out in a month (because this sort of thing is not uncommon) so I might be a little on the offensive. I don't want to make someone pay a fine if I report them without giving them a "reasonable" amount of time to fix it. But I do think I should have heat at all times.
- Tonight is 32 degrees.

So when is it reasonable to report them?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total)
24 hours. call hpd.
posted by tabula rasa at 6:54 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]

It's been FREEZING for two damn days! And it is their legal responsibility to provide heat. Report them now! You can make a report online. Encourage other tenants in your building to do the same (if they, too, have no heat). I put up signs in Spanish and English in my last building encouraging people to call 311 if they didn't have hot water!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:55 PM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

I am not a lawyer but not having heat in NYC is serious business. It's unacceptable and you should report them. Don't stop complaining! They have to act. That's one of the main things you are entitled to as a renter, no ifs ands or buts. Usually landlords act fast, even if they're scummy about other things.
posted by sweetkid at 6:57 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

The time is long past. Anything more than 1 night in cold with no response from the landlord. Pretty much heat, roof and walls are the sin qua non of housing.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:17 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

As soon as the temperature in your apartment falls below 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the 'day' and 55 degrees at 'night'.

Here's the word from NYC.gov.

There's no screwing around with heat, call right away, or have your roommate do so.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:34 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you don't have heat, to the point of the apartment having a temperature below 60 degrees or thereabouts for more than 24 hours after contacting the landlord or super, you are legally entitled to withhold rent for all days without heat. NYC has a specific landlord-tenant court for matters like this. You might want to consult a landlord-tenant attorney. There are free or low-fee attorneys available for this, or you can get a group of tenants together and go to court without representation.
posted by RRgal at 7:39 PM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

As soon as you notice: contact landlord/super

Not fixed within a few hours: contact them again for status update

If they do not imply that it is currently being fixed and/or that they're getting a mobile boiler truck: 311

I have reported my former landlord to 311 for lack of heat several times. You can do it anonymously. Heat is usually on within a few hours of making the call. They send an inspector out within 24 hours to make sure the heat is on.

Heat is a BFD in NYC. Doubly so if you have any rent controlled tenants in your building. Call 311.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:05 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, please note that there's no city rule about how long you have to wait to call 311 when it comes to a heat complaint. It's a courtesy to contact management first, but it's not your duty to make them supply heat, it's their duty to supply it when it is needed. So don't feel bad about calling "too soon"!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:38 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I assume you have already heeded the good advice in this thread and called 311 to make a complaint. In the future, if this should happen again in a different building, you can check the past complaints registered by tenants against the building on the nyc.gov website and let that guide your decisions. In this particular case I would have called 311 immediately, having had personal knowledge of the heating situation being an ongoing problem that was not fixed the year before. You do not, IMO, owe them any benefit of the doubt this time around.
posted by elizardbits at 6:28 AM on November 26, 2013

"I don't want to make someone pay a fine if I report them without giving them a "reasonable" amount of time to fix it."

I am a landlord - and if your facts are correct - I WOULD REPORT THE GUY !!

You went over-night with no heat, it was 32 degrees, and you didn't even get a call back !?

All businesses try to trim costs and save money, but there is a point where it is wrong.
Would you not report a restaurant that had roaches and didn't bother to hire pest control?

This landlord has an obligation to provide heat. If he can't do it correctly, then frankly he should not be a landlord.

Personally, I am sick of all these idiots getting involved in real estate investing who are clueless. They watch an episode of Flip This House, and suddenly they are an investor.

Your landlord is either a slum lord, and should be reported - or incompetent, and should be reported. There is no excuse for: no heat, no call. Report Him !! You might save another one of his tenants who does not have the same strength to fight.
posted by Flood at 6:29 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

You say the heat constantly broke all last winter. That is unacceptable even in the cheapest of NYC apartments - it is illegal to not provide proper heat to your tenants. Please do not feel guilty about reporting it. If your landlord wants to be a landlord, he needs to get the heat working properly, and if it takes reporting him to the city to do it, so be it. And yeah, I've lived in apartments around the area with sketchy heat. It is absolutely miserable and you do not have to live like that. It doesn't matter that you're leaving in a month.
posted by wondermouse at 6:32 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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