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Landlord refuses to pay for heating oil

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Landlord refuses to pay for heating oil

Postby francine » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:32 pm

Here's our situation: we're the last tenants in a four-unit, circa 1900 building that's being sold at a loss by the landlord. We have a good relationship with him, and have never had any problems. However, as tenants started moving out two years ago, he did not seek new ones, which, I suppose, makes the building more desirable to prospective buyers. He has paid for only a couple of 150-gallon (!) oil deliveries in the past two months, which, of course, last about five or six days. He is crying poverty now, as it costs thousands of dollars each month to heat the building. As tenants in a non-regulated building, can we negotiate with the fuel oil company for delivery, and pay reduced/no rent (according to NYC rent regulations Multiple Dwelling Law § 302-c; Multiple Residence Law §305-c)?
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:11 pm

What Borough and what neighborhood is the dwelling in? Don't give the actual address.

MDL 302-c is too long to print entirely here, but see http://tenant.net/Other_Laws/MDL/mdl08.html

The first point is:
1. Any tenant acting alone or together with other tenants of a
multiple dwelling employing an oil fired heating device for
which the owner is responsible and wherein there exists a
lack of heat due to the owner's failure to have oil supplied
to the premises, may contract and pay for the delivery of
such oil in accordance with the provisions of this section.
Any payment so made shall be deductible from rent providing
the following provisions have been substantially complied
with by the tenant or someone acting on his behalf:

... and then a lot of details.

I would make sure every detail is followed precisely. If you haven't already, put together a tenants association. Make sure you keep a heat log, a record of all communications (keep envelopes with postmarks), keep copies of EVERYTHING. Keep a log of all phone calls, letters and emails to the LL and followup everything with certified letters to the LL. Tell the LL you intend to invoke this provision and send him a copy of the law.

Make daily complaints to 311 and keep records of those complaints. Try to get an inspector out to the premises.
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Postby francine » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:04 pm

Thanks for your reply. We're in Manhattan, in East Harlem. A tenant's association is moot at this point as we (me and my husband) are the only tenants left in the building - the other three units in the four-unit building are empty. I will start a heat log, and I suppose I should start to get things in writing; up to now, all communication has been via telephone conversations and text messaging.

I did not think to call 311. I would not have thought that it was an option as this is a privately owned, unregulated building (and I believe that they are, arguably, the most useless city office). It's all about keeping a record of complaints, though, no?

The question at this point is how much diligence do I need to display before we can start buying oil? It's really cold in here, and the whole process of letter writing and building inspection is pointless if it's going to take a couple of months to start heating our apartment again.
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