Tenants and landlords both have rights. However tenants, especially, need to find out what these rights are and understand when they should take action. The following information answers some of the frequently asked questions about heating and hot water.

In accordance with the International Property Maintenance code, Section 602.3, heat at a temperature of 68°F, regardless of outdoor temperature, must be supplied from Sept. 15 through May 31 to tenants in multiple dwellings. The exception to this is when the outdoor temperature is below the winter outdoor design temperature for the locality, (15°F for Westchester County, NY), then maintenance of the minimum room temperature is not required, provided that the heating system is operating at its full design capacity.

What should tenants do if there is no heat in their apartment?
You should take the following steps:

  • Step one is to call your building superintendent or landlord.
  • If the heat cannot be restored promptly, then you should try to find out why.
  • Heat complaints may be reported to your local building inspector. See the link below.

Where can I contact my local building inspector?
Here is a list of local towns and cities in Westchester with the numbers and contact information that you can call to reach the building departments (see page 3).

What are the rules for hot water?
New York State law requires that hot water be provided 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The minimum temperature for hot water is determined by each municipality.

May I be evicted for reporting a heat complaint to the local building inspector?
No, the landlord cannot evict you solely because you called the inspector. If eviction is threatened, seek legal advice on your own. If you need free assistance, contact: Mount Vernon United Tenants, 40 South First Avenue, Mt. Vernon, or call (914) 699-1114.

What does the law state about the conditions of my apartment?
Section 235-b of the New York Real Property Law titled “Warranty of Habitability” states “In every written or oral lease or rental agreement for residential premises the landlord or lessor shall be deemed to covenant and warrant that the premise so leased or rented and all areas used in connection therewith… are fit for human habitation and for the uses reasonably intended by the parties and that the occupants of such premises shall not be subjected to any condition which could be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or safety.”

For what kind of conditions should I call the Building Inspector?
Conditions that affect the living standards of your apartment and the building itself. These conditions can be peeling paint, broken doors, windows elevators, locks and mail boxes, fire damage and improper services from the building superintendent.

What steps should I take to address these conditions?
We recommend you proceed as follows:

  •  The first step is to contact and notify your building superintendent, building manager or landlord. If they do not satisfactorily address your concerns, then proceed to the second step.
  • The second step is to contact the local building department to request their inspection and enforcement of the law.
  • If the conditions are not addressed, then a certified letter to the landlord is in order. Tenants should document with photographs whenever possible.

Does Westchester offer assistance to help cover the costs of heating?
Westchester County offers a program called HEAP – Home Energy Assistance Program. For information call the Department of Social Services HEAP line at (914) 995-5619.