Heat and Hot Water in New York City Apartments

Know Your Rights

Manhattan Apartment Blocks
Hal Bergman/Photodisc/Getty Images

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

When Are Landlords Required to 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 degrees Fahrenheit. The New York City Housing Maintenance Code and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law outline the hot water requirements for landlords.

When Are Landlords Required to 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 degrees everywhere in your apartment from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees.
  • At night, the temperature must be at least 55 degrees everywhere in your apartment from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. if the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees.

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. That's why, between June 1 and September 30, you can make a complaint about a residential building that has the heat on.

Who Do Heat and Hot Water Laws Apply To?

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
  • Day care centers
  • Drug rehab treatment facilities

Report a Landlord for Violating 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 would be to file a complaint with the City's Citizen Service Center. This can be done by calling 311. 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, he or she will have the option of issuing a building-wide violation.