This past Christmas Day was one of the coldest New York has seen in a few years. However, it was even colder for some residents living in Harlem.
Residents at an East Harlem public housing development were without heat and hot water for three days over the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, that is not the first time they experienced these issues.
According to a recent article, over 80 percent of the tenants in the development have experienced heating issues in the past two years. According to the New York Community Housing Association, the outages affected more than 3,300 people this past Christmas. Many other tenants around the state experience similar issues.
With temperatures near 30 degrees, tenants were forced to boil water on their stove tops to stay warm. Other tenants bundled up in multiple layers of clothing and taped garbage bags around the windows to keep the cold air from seeping the cracks. What many residents did not know was that their landlords were failing their legal duties.
New York City laws
According to the New York State Multiple Dwelling law, landlords in New York are required to provide heat and hot water in their facilities. In October through May, landlords must keep the temperatures in the buildings at least 68 degrees during the day (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), if the temperature outside gets lower than 55 degrees, and at least 62 degrees at night (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Additionally, hot water at 120 degrees must be provided every day of the year.
According to the Attorney General of the state of New York, tenants are protected by federal and state laws that require landlords to perform specific duties. A landlord breaches his duty of habitability by “failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis.” Similarly, a landlord is required to keep the facilities in “good repair” and maintain heating systems, including furnace systems and hot water.
If a landlord fails to properly maintain a property, serious injuries can occur. It can be beneficial to speak with an experienced legal professional to discuss your options before it is too late.