For the average person, the term “heat season” might bring on thoughts of heading to the beach, loading up on sunblock, and eating gelato. It’s the opposite for landlords. For you, it means the weather is turning cold and it's time to turn on your building’s heat.
Whether you’re a first time landlord or a grizzled professional, there are a few new things you should know about this upcoming 2017 heat season.
1. The Temperature Requirements are Higher
Heat season is October 1st — May 31st. Legally, you are required to turn on your building’s heat during this period. You already know that. But make sure you know the new night time requirements:
Day Time 6AM — 10PM: If the outside temperature is below 55 F, the inside-apartment temperature must be 68 F.
Night Time 10PM — 6AM: As of this season, the inside temperature at night must be above 62 F regardless of what temperature it is outside.
TIP: Take a picture of your thermostat for your records whenever you can. It's low-tech, but can cut down on potential conflicts with tenants and can help you track your system’s efficiency.
2. The Inspection Process Has Also Changed
The city requires an annual inspection for your boiler if your building is mixed-use or has 6 or more families. You have to have an inspection done by someone licensed from the DOB or an authorized insurance company.
As of August 14, 2017, you can no longer submit your inspection reports by person. They must be submitted online at DOB NOW: Safety.
TIP: You should also schedule additional maintenance inspections with experts. Whether you use oil or natural gas or your system is steam or water, chances are soot is building up that could damage your equipment.
3. Know the Fines If You Don’t Comply
Tenants have a right to heat and hot water. If they don’t have adequate heat, and they can’t get in touch with you to fix it, they will likely call 311. HPD will try to reach out to you, but generally they will set up an inspection.
If you haven’t restored heat or met the temperature requirements, HPD will issue a violation, which is almost always followed up by a court proceeding. You could be subject to significant civil penalties:
$250 — $500 each day per violation until a follow up inspection
$500 — $1000 each day per subsequent violation
$200 per additional inspection after the first two
TIP: Think of your tenants as your first line of defense! Their feedback/complaints are frontline reports about your heating system. Make it easy to reach you before they reach for 311.