(Source: HPD) — New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas today reminded residential building owners of their legal obligation to provide tenants with hot water year-round and heat when the outdoor temperature warrants it.
“The cold weather months are the busiest season for HPD’s Housing Maintenance Code inspectors. Ensuring that New Yorkers have adequate heat and hot water is our critical mission from October through May,” said Commissioner Visnauskas. “Every landlord is required to provide housing that is warm, safe and secure and most do exactly that. But when they fail in that responsibility, HPD is here to defend and protect the rights of tenants no matter what their income or where in the City they live.”
In the event of a heat deficiency, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should call 311, the City’s central 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week information and complaint line. Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD at (212) 504-4115. Complaints can also be filed via 311 Online at www.nyc.gov/apps/311.
Once the complaint is recorded, HPD staff attempts to contact the building’s owner or managing agent to get heat or hot water service restored. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, HPD will call the tenant back to determine if service has been restored. If the tenant indicates that service has not been restored, an HPD inspector is sent to the building to verify the complaint and, if it is warranted, will issue a violation. HPD fields a team of inspectors who work in shifts, and are situated in offices in all five boroughs, to provide coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For situations that merit the deployment of additional crews, such as prolonged periods of below-freezing temperatures, the agency will deploy additional inspectors, as well as maintenance staff to any given shift, sometimes doubling the normal number of inspectors on duty to help respond to complaints and emergencies.
In cases where private owners fail to restore heat and hot water, or when HPD is unable to reach owners, HPD’s Emergency Repair Program (ERP) may use private contractors to make the necessary repairs to restore essential services. The cost of the emergency repairs is billed to the private owner and becomes a tax lien on the property if not paid. The City’s ERP is by far the most extensive in the nation, completing more than $5.0 million in repairs during the 2012-2013 heat season.
HPD’s Housing Litigation Division (HLD) also may initiate legal action against properties that were issued heat violations. Property owners are subject to civil penalties heat and hot water violations that range from $250 to a maximum of $500 per day for first violations. Subsequent violations at the same location, within the same calendar year, are subject to penalties ranging from $500 to $1000 per day. Owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and to continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies. HPD’s HLD filed more than 2,844 cases in the 2012-2013 heat season.
Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation that went into effect in June 2012 which states property owners could be subject to inspection fees if multiple inspections need to be performed for heat and hot water that result in violations. HPD may impose a fee of $200 per inspection if it has to carry out three or more inspections at the same location, within the same heat season for heat violations or calendar year for hot water violations. Failure to pay will result in the City filing a tax lien against the property.
In addition to increasing the penalties for repeat offenders, legislation was also passed offering property owners who address heat and hot water conditions immediately a simplified process for satisfying the civil penalty without going to Housing Court. If the violation is the first that has been issued on the property since the beginning of the previous heat season or the last calendar year, and the violation is corrected within 24 hours of the posting of the Notice of Violation, the property owner may satisfy the above referenced civil penalty by properly completing a Notice of Correction by the correction date listed on the violation and submitting a payment of $250. Submitting a proper Notice of Correction and payment in satisfaction of the civil penalty will stop the commencement of a Housing Court proceeding. Landlords can submit the Notice of Correction by eCertification or mailing in the Report of Correction via certified mail within 10 days of the date of the inspection. Information on eCertification can be found on the Residential Building Owner’s page of the HPD website at: www.NYC.gov/HPD
During the 2012/2013 heat season (October 1, 2012 – May 31, 2013):
195,446 heat and hot water problems (including duplicate calls from a single address) were reported to the City through 311.
– HPD inspectors attempted 119,201 heat-related inspections.
– HPD inspectors wrote 11,379 heat-related violations.
– HPD completed a total of $ 5,014,960 million in heat-related emergency repairs
(charged to building owners).
– HPD filed 2,844 heat cases in court and collected $2,407,154 in fines.
Heat cases filed by borough:
– Manhattan: 456
– Bronx: 790
– Brooklyn: 1,105
– Queens: 380
– Staten Island: 113
Top Community Board In Each Borough for Primary Heat/Hot Water Complaints (does not include duplicate complaints):
CB 12: 15,193 complaints logged (peak month – January 2013: 3,261 complaints)
CB 7: 11,208 complaints logged (peak month – January 2013: 2,510 complaints)
CB 17: 7,456 complaints logged (peak month – January 2013: 1,919 complaints)
CB 14: 3,155 complaints logged (peak month – November 2012: 772 complaints)
– Staten Island
CB 1: 1,435 complaints logged (peak month – November 2012: 310 complain
Information on heat season is also available on the HPD website at www.nyc.gov/hpd. As part of HPD’s commitment to providing information to non-English speaking New Yorkers, HPD has produced magnets with heat season requirements in twelve different languages. The magnets can be picked up at HPD’s Division of Code Enforcement borough offices listed below:
Manhattan: 94 Old Broadway, 7th Floor
Bronx: 1932 Arthur Avenue
Brooklyn: 701 Euclid Avenue, or 210 Joralemon Street, Room 806
Queens: 120-55 Queens Blvd (Borough Hall), First Floor
Staten Island: Staten Island Borough Hall
HPD also works with building owners who want to improve the management of their buildings or need assistance with improving their heating systems. Building owners and managers can access HPD’s e-learning course online at www.nyc.gov/hpd to learn about heat and hot water regulations, HPD’s processes and heating system maintenance.
About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of fiscal year 2014. Since the plan’s inception, the City has financed to creation or preservation of nearly 156,400 affordable homes. For regular updates on news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychpd and www.twitter.com/nychousing. For more information, visit our website at www.nyc.gov/hpd.