The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) closed out the heat season with over 114,000 heat complaints racked up across the five boroughs during the lockdown.
Each year, from October through May all New York City buildings must adhere to “heat season” rules to ensure New Yorkers can stay warm in the colder months. Hot water must be provided all year long and in buildings where adequate heat was not provided, HPD inspectors wrote 3,855 heat and 5,454 hot water violations.
From Oct. 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021, 177,307 total heat and hot water problems were reported to the City through 311, with 114,247 of those calls being unique individual calls without duplicate complaints. As a result, HPD inspectors attempted 112,650 heat and/or hot water inspections, including multiple inspection attempts in response to a complaint.
HPD looks to correct the condition as soon as possible when building owners fail to restore heat and hot water after getting a violation. During emergency repairs, enforcement staff pushed owners to make the repairs and checked in with tenants to verify that the work was completed. If the owners don’t respond, HPD sends work crews to complete the jobs.
During this heat season, HPD completed $1.3 million in heat-related emergency repairs, including fuel delivery, boiler repairs or hot water repairs, which were billed to the building owners. HPD filed 893 heat and hot water cases in court accounting for almost 3,000 violations and has collected $450,000 in civil penalties. For the FY2021 through May, HPD has collected $193,750 in heat settlement penalties and $198,000 in heat inspection fees for a total collection of almost $850,000.
HPD’s enforcement team also supported citywide efforts to combat COVID-19 through initiatives such as Business Inspections for COVID Clusters and also by helping keep New Yorkers safe in their homes during lockdown. Between March 2020 and May 2021, HPD’s enforcement team conducted 550,000 inspections and issued 650,000 violations and have continued to respond to complaints across the city.
Since September 2020, inspectors, including HPD inspectors, took part inspect businesses operating in COVID-19 clusters, including restaurants with indoor dining, and checked for issues such as employees not wearing masks, checking maximum capacity requirements, alcohol consumed at bars, and other safety measures aimed at restricting the spread of COVID-19. The program has since wrapped with inspections taking place at over 300,000 stores and restaurants and issued 86,000 warnings.
“HPD’s Enforcement team is among the unsung heroes of this crisis, carrying out inspections and emergency repairs for the most serious conditions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “I want to thank them for keeping up essential services despite physical, emotional, and logistical challenges, and for going above and beyond to serve New Yorkers in new ways through the pandemic.”
New York City tenants that are facing issues with heat, hot water, water leaks, pests or other types of housing quality issues, should first try and speak to the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If service is not restored or repairs made timely, the tenant should register an official complaint via 311. To file a complaint, tenants can call 311, visit 311 online or use the app 311Mobile (on Android and iOS devices) to file a complaint. Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (212) 504-4115. HPD encourages tenants to check the HPD webpage to learn the result of the complaint.