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No heat or hot water

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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No heat or hot water

Postby Cazmia » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:49 pm

We have no heat and hot water and it is 15 degrees outside. We have had a Tenant's Association meeting and every tenant has agreed to contribute $50 every 2 weeks to keep the boiler filled.

How do we legally deduct this money from our rent and is there an emergency number to call that will get oil here before the weekend?
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Re: No heat or hot water

Postby TenantNet » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:22 pm

I presume you're in NYC as you posted to the Rent Regulated forum.

It certainly is cold, but you're exaggerating a bit. It's been hovering in the mid-20's, not 15 degrees.

You should start by getting to know the heat requirements. I'd look at the heat post in the forum's reference section: http://tenant.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=4939

I also presume you have notified the LL by cert. mail and lodged complaints with 311. Do both to document the situation. Teach your tenants to document everything, all mail, all phone calls and so on. Tenants should create Heat Sheets.

I would keep calling 311 until you get action from HPD, not only an inspection, but perhaps their Emergency Repair Unit. But understand this time of year HPD is overwhelmed with heat complaints.

Have you contacted your local City Councilperson or community board?

Consider filing a HP Action in Housing Court or seek a 7A Administrator. Be careful about both of these as they can backfire.

I assume you mean heating oil. I have seen regulations on how tenants can pay for utilities like Con Ed in the public parts of buildings (i.e., hallways). Look at this booklet: http://tenant.net/Rights/Utility/util-toc.html It's a bit old (1995) so keep that in mind. Maybe they might have an updated version. Also look at http://utilityproject.org/

But you're dealing with fuel for the boiler, not Con Ed electricity. But you can probably do similar things with oil.

Filling the boiler up presumes you have access to the boiler. Or is the LL cooperative in your efforts? You may need some professional or legal help to do all this. If there are low-income tenants in the building, have them contact Legal Aid or Legal Services. In some parts of the city there are not-for-profit groups that can help tenants in this process.
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Re: No heat or hot water

Postby Cazmia » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:46 pm

It was so cold the night I posted here, we just couldn't wait for the advise. I'm the Tenant's Association President, so once one tenant stopped me to talk, all the tenants came up to us and we had started an impromptu tenant's association meeting right there in the hallway.

No one hesitated to contribute $60 a piece to buy oil. We are lucky that as neighbors we can rely upon one another this way. Makes me proud.

You mentioned Con Edison. We have received notice from them that the owner also is not paying the electric bill, and electricity could be cut off to public areas of the building by the 20th of this month.

This would mean we might not be able to use a boiler we desperately banded together to fill ourselves. 311 has been contacted. This owner is the worse yet.
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Re: No heat or hot water

Postby TenantNet » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:28 pm

I know Con Ed has a program where tenants can cover the bill for public areas of the building. I think the program then allows tenants to deduct the amounts contributed from their rents. See this link: http://tenant.net/Rights/Utility/util-toc.html -- but remember it's a bit old, so it might be outdated. I would call Legal Services to see if they have an updated booklet (let us know if they do), and if there are changes in how it works.

If you have tenants whose income is sufficiently low that they qualify for Legal Services, then they might be able to represent all tenants in this issue.

Legal Services out to know if there are similar programs for heating oil or gas.

And in the meantime, put the LL on notice, file 311 complaints and consider an HP Action in Housing Court, and/or a 7-A Administrator to take over management of the building.

Also consider going to your elected officials, and possibly the press. The tabloids love to cover buildings without heat over the holidays.
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