Renters' Rights to Heat and Hot Water in NYC Apartments

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If you're renting an apartment in New York City, you can't be left out in the cold. All tenants have the right to an apartment that has heat when it's chilly outside and to hot water throughout the year. It's important as a renter to understand your landlord's responsibilities when it comes to providing heat and hot water, your rights as a tenant, and what you can do if your landlord isn't fulfilling those responsibilities.

When Landlords Must Provide Hot Water

No matter what time of year it is, if you live in NYC, you should be able to take a hot shower. Even during the hottest days of summer, the water must reach a constant temperature of at least 120 F. The New York City Housing Maintenance Code and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law outline the hot water requirements for landlords.

Even if your shower or tub faucet contains an anti-scald valve (for safety) that limits the hottest temperature to less than 120 F, the water must still reach a constant temperature of at least 110 F.

When Landlords Must Provide Heat

New York City has a "heat season" during which time landlords must provide heat to their tenants. Under NYC housing law, landlords need to provide heat from October 1 through May 31 during specific times and when the outside temperature drops to a certain point:

  • During the day, the inside temperature must be at least 68 F everywhere in your apartment from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if the outside temperature falls below 55 F.
  • At night, the temperature must be at least 62 F everywhere in your apartment from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In addition to stating when landlords must provide heat, the city also regulates when the heat should not be on. Just as you would want to be warm in the winter, you probably don't want to be scorching hot in your apartment during the already-hot summer months. Thus, between June 1 and September 30 you can make a complaint about a residential building that has the heat on.

Where Do Heat and Hot Water Laws Apply?

The above regulations apply to tenants renting apartments in all five of New York City's boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. They also extend to commercial buildings and non-residential buildings, including:

  • Government buildings
  • Senior centers
  • Private schools
  • Daycare centers
  • Drug rehab treatment facilities

Report a Landlord for Violating the NYC Heat Law

If your landlord is not providing adequate heat or hot water, there are steps you can take. First, you should contact your landlord, property management company, or building superintendent to report the problem. If they can't resolve the issue or refuse to try, the next step is to call 3-1-1 to file a complaint with the NYC Citizen Service Center. The Center will try to contact your landlord on your behalf first, and, if unsuccessful, will send a housing inspector to your apartment. If the inspector finds that there is not adequate heat or hot water in your apartment, they have the option of issuing a building-wide violation.