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Smaller NYC apartment buildings more likely to have chronic heat problems, report shows

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Buildings with just three apartments have more violations, an analysis of city data found

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It is cold in New York right now—extremely, uncomfortably, your extremities go numb as soon as you go outside cold, with temperatures not expected to get above freezing until the weekend.

Your first thought might be to stay indoors, but for many New Yorkers—including hundreds of NYCHA residents—their homes are not a safe haven from the extreme cold. Despite tenant laws stipulating that heat and hot water must be provided during colder months (roughly the beginning of October to the end of March), landlords don’t always comply, whether by accident—pipes freeze, boilers break—or because of a larger pattern of neglect. While tenants can file complaints to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the agency currently has a backlog of open violations going back to 2017.

To get a sense of how widespread the problem of heat and hot water violations is, there’s now a map for that: Localize.city, which provides neighborhood insights based on available New York City data, has created a resource showing the heat and hot water violation history for apartment buildings (with three or more units, and excluding public housing) throughout the city, and IDed 150 of the worst offenders.

Localize found that heat violations are often a problem plaguing smaller buildings—close to half with chronic problems have just three units, and an additional 27 percent had four units—and that the neighborhoods with the highest rate of violations are all located in the Bronx and Brooklyn. (However, the building with the single highest number of violations is located on West 134th Street in Harlem.)

In 2018, the City Council introduced a bill that would require the city to ID the buildings with the highest rates of heat violations, and compel them to install heat-detecting sensors in apartment buildings to easily allow landlords and tenants to monitor internal temperatures. Until that’s a reality, though, here’s everything you need to know about what to do if your apartment is without heat.