Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
Fall is officially underway, and that means cold weather is inevitable. With the cooler air, come struggles between landlords and tenants about heat.
Heat season began in New York City on October 1. After that date, landlords were required to provide heat in their buildings. But advocates say some landlords delay turning on the heat, especially in low income sections of the city.
Juan Haro, with Movement for Justice in El Barrio, said the tenant organizing group is helping East Harlem residents tackle housing issues. “Many tenants live in fear of freezing this winter,” Haro said. “Every winter tenants struggle. We're talking about elderly people, we're talking about children who are spending the holiday season, for example, in the cold...freezing.”
New York City has a law on the books that requires the city’s Department of Houising Preservation and Development to fix broken heating units, and then bill the landlord after the fix is completed. But Haro said the law is difficult to enforce.
Movement for Justice in El Barrio has fought for the past six years to force some landlords to comply with city heat season laws. While many landlords try to repair broken heating boilers, Haro said some delay turning the heat on to save money. “Often times its like, the boiler is not faulty, or it's not necessary to actually make the repair, it's the landlords who are greedy that will actually turn off the boiler,” Haro said.
Last year, more than 211,000 heat and hot water complaints were placed with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Haro urges tenants with heating problems this season to call the city at 3-1-1 if their heat is not working properly or call the group's hotline number at 212-561-0555.