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Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

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Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby RebeccaG » Tue Mar 04, 2003 6:27 pm

Does it ever happen that some landlords will turn off the heat and hot water in the winter to save money and then wait until someone complains?

Ours goes off every other day more or less.
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby DMcDonough » Tue Mar 04, 2003 6:58 pm

There are some landlords that do this all the time. My last landlord did, and the complex does this too -- except they "lower" it rather than cut it off completely, so that you can't say they failed to give heat. If you complain to the Dept of Buildings/Code Enforcement, they call the landlord first before sending an inspector -- the landlord then goes in and turns the heat on and viola! when the inspector shows up, there is no heat problem. If you make enough "false" or "unfounded" complaints, the landlord then evicts you on the grounds that you are a nuisance who files false reports, etc.

I got a good piece of advice from a cop. If you are sitting in your apartment in subzero temperatures and there is no heat, and the landlord has been called but does not respond, try calling the cops if it is so cold that it is a definite hazard. If you are lucky and the cops show up, and they see there is no heat, this is a crime, the cops can serve a summons or write up a police report, and they can tell the landlord to turn the heat on. This will piss off your landlord but it can't be called an 'unfounded' complaint because the landlord didn't have 'warning' in advance that allowed him to turn on the heat and not get caught red handed, and very rarely will a court of law say that a police report was false.

If your landlord doesn't like to give you heat, document it in a 'heat log', get an indoor thermometer that records the temperature and a camera that 'burns' the date and time onto your photos, and take a photo of the thermometer to show that on a certain date at a certain time, your house was cold below the given requirements. Hold on to that information, and if things get tough and you have a lot of heat problems documented and can prove it was an ongoing thing for an extended period of time, you can get some of your rent back.

But really the best thing to do is to just find a new place. Landlords hate to give heat and they hate to have the whistle blown on them, and they WILL retaliate, and unfortunately have the power to do so even though the laws are written in favor of tenants in many cases. I would much rather move into a place where I pay my own heat, my own electric because then I control how warm or cold it is in my living space and the landlord can't complain because I am after all paying for it all. This is a hard arrangement to find, and not everyone can afford such an option.

Good luck, and yes, this is a common problem that is hard to resolve for many tenants.

(I am not a lawyer just a tenant.)
Diana
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby ChrisG » Tue Mar 04, 2003 10:10 pm

so have your talked to the LL about the heat? they may not even realize what's happening ... or they may not be smart enough.

it's been really cold during the weekdays in my place this winter. i started working from home most of the time this past year, so i had never been around to notice it before. it seemed like the LL was lowering the heat when she thought nobody was home. We finally asked her about it and it turned out that she had been running a space heater in her office (a room in the building). This room contains the only thermostat so of course it wouldn't turn the furnace on due to the increased heat in that room. It took us a very long time to explain to her how a thermostat works (!) before she agreed to pump up the heat during the daytime.

some LL's just need a little guidance :)
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby Shaba68 » Tue Mar 04, 2003 10:24 pm

Unfortunately, I can relate to this situation...I have lived in my apartment for a little over a year and my furnace has gone out at least once a month. It's like pulling teeth to get the landlord there to fix it...I'm moving out on Saturday and it went out again yesterday (-3 degree temps last nite!) and it still hasn't been fixed today. I just want to know who to complain to so that other people don't get stuck with these TERRIBLE landlords!
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby tiredsecy » Wed Mar 05, 2003 5:24 pm

If the building is rent controlled or stabilized, call Housing Preservation or the Heat hotline they show on the news every time there's a cold snap.
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby RebeccaG » Wed Mar 05, 2003 5:36 pm

It makes you wonder why people chose to become landlords in the first place, if most seem to have this general animosity toward their tenants, and tenants in general.

Or maybe it's a power trip.
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby RebeccaG » Wed Mar 05, 2003 5:43 pm

Also, if landlords made sure there WERE no problems with lack of heat, or broken down this or that, or lack of various other basic comforts normal people take for granted, except in New York, then they would be far less inclined to have non-paying tenants and/or court cases.

But in New York, you have way overpriced tiny, shabby, ancient holes with thin walls, no heat and few comforts or amenities, and it doesn't make us tenants feel very loved---more like despised.
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby ChrisG » Wed Mar 05, 2003 6:14 pm

i'm pretty sure most LL's are just thinking about all the money they're gonna make when they enter upon renting out apartments. They don't really have a conception about what they have to do until something goes wrong. in my case, with the space heater/thermostat thing, we asked our LL why she was using a space heater in the first place. she said her office (in our building) was too cold, but she assumed that the rest of the building must be warm enough. why? because she couldn't believe that people could stand to live at such low temperatures; cuz nobody had complained she assumed we were fine. somehow becoming a LL seems to make you lose your human empathy. or she's just kinda dumb.
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby mjr203 » Wed Mar 05, 2003 6:27 pm

Originally posted by ChrisG:
somehow becoming a LL seems to make you lose your human empathy. or she's just kinda dumb.
or both :D
most Landlords suck it.
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby joliett » Fri Mar 14, 2003 2:34 am

"When you complain to HPD they notify the landlord," Diana195 stated -- which is exactly correct.

That's exactly why the problem should be documented by an EXPERT - before the HPD inspection.

Just like the Landlord has one, the Tenant should have an expert on his/her side.

When the landlord attempts to fix eveything just for an inspection, at least the Tenant has the problems documented by an EXPERT, recognized by the HPD and all courts in NYS.
Joel Teicher, P.E.
www.TenantEngineer.com
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Re: Can Heat Problems Be Deliberate?

Postby lappert » Fri Mar 14, 2003 9:22 am

And the best EXPERT is the tenant, who can keep a heat diary day in and day out, right?
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