NYC Heat Laws: Tenant Rights To Basic Amenities

Posted by: TheGuarantors on December 1, 2021

For many, moving to New York City is a dream come true. Renting an apartment with the right amenities can determine what your narrative will be. And knowing your rights as a tenant (e.g., with regard to the NYC Heat Laws) is important.

Your rights as a tenant include the right to fair housing, limited upfront payment, and a safe and secure home. Having access to heat and hot water in the winter is not a luxury, it's one of your rights as a renter according to the NYC Heat Laws.

Related: 5 Mistakes to Avoid as a First Time Apartment Renter in NYC

Apart from hot water in your apartment, owners and property managers are expected to provide heat during the winter season, according to NYC heat laws. It is known as the heating season and lasts from October 1st to May 31st. 

Other basic amenities include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, pest-free properties, lead-free walls, paint or wallpaper on the walls, windows, lighting, window guards, a lockable front door with a peephole, access to a mailing service, etc.

At what temperature do NYC property managers have to turn on the heat?

Temperature requirements for NYC property managers
NYC heat regulations state that, between 6am and 10pm, the temperature inside your home should be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when the temperature outside drops below 55 degrees. At night (between 10pm and 6am), the inside temperature is expected to be at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

What to do if your apartment has no heat in NYC

Reporting no heat in your apartment in NYC
Your first point of call should be to reach out to your property managers. Your lease should specify the process for reporting damages or emergencies. Reach out to your property manager as specified in your contract; according to NYC Heat Laws, your property manager is required to fix the heat within 24 hours of receiving the report.

If the property manager does not address the report immediately, tenants can call 311 to make their NYC heat complaints. Technically, you can withhold your rent, or at least some part of it, if the property manager does not to provide you with heat. However, this option must be explored with caution. The property manager can sue you for non or partial payment of rent. Sure, you can file a countersuit against your property manager for breaching the warrant of habitability based on the NYC Heat Laws, but then the court will have to order a rent abatement.

The amount will vary, and in some cases, the renter may still have to pay all. Thus, you should only use this as your last resort, or if you're prepared to pay the full amount as ordered by the judge. It's also wise to do this under the advisement of legal counsel. Otherwise, you may be evicted for nonpayment of rent.

What to do if the heat is too little or too much?

Heat laws in NYC

The NYC heat regulation states that it has to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit inside when the temperature drops below a certain level, but this might still be too cold for some people. For extra heat inside your apartment, you might want to consider investing in an electric space heater. However, you should only use this after all necessary fire precautions have been taken.

If, on the other hand, it gets too hot in your apartment, consider getting a thermostatic radiator valve. This can help regulate the amount of heat that comes from your radiators.

Just be aware that, in both cases, you may need to reach an agreement with your property manager before going ahead.

Related: How to Protect your Rights as a Renter

Bottom Line

The NYC Heat Laws have been put in place to protect you, especially during the cold winter months. Property managers are expected to provide hot water to your home all year round, and also to maintain specific heat levels during the winter. Familiarize yourself with the laws so that you know what to expect from your property manager.