With the cold approaching New York City this weekend, Council Member Jumaane Williams reignited his push to amend the overnight temperatures maintained in residential dwellings.
The bill, known as Intro 0722, would also remove the outside daytime and nighttime temperature trigger, which would normally prompt when inside heating should kick in.
“Between Oct. 1 and May 31, owners of residential building who are required to provide heat for their tenants must maintain certain minimum temperatures in areas of dwelling units that are used or occupied for living purposes,” reads the description of the bill, which Williams first introduced in 2015. “This bill would amend existing law to increase both the outside temperature that triggers the heating requirement and the minimum temperatures required to be maintained in living areas as follows: Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., the inside temperature would have to be kept at 72 degrees or above (raised from 68). Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the inside temperature would have to be kept at 65 degrees or above (raised from 55).”
At City Hall, Williams was joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York State Senator Bill Perkins, the Housing and Family Services of Greater New York and the Flatbush Tenant Coalition. They all called on the Bill de Blasio administration to push forward on the bill.
“Most people don’t realize how cold it has to be outside to legally be able to get heat,” stated Council Member Williams. “We focused on what we have the ability to focus on, which was the nighttime temperature. Right now in order to get heat, it has to be 40 degrees outside, and inside it has to be 55 degrees, which is not a comfortable temperature. There are a lot of seniors and young people who cannot deal with 55 degrees. It’s very confusing for tenants who think they’re supposed to receive additional heat.”
“New Yorkers have been waiting more than eight months for the impact study needed before we pass this bill, and we don’t even have a timeline yet,” added Brewer. “The administration shouldn’t keep New Yorkers waiting in the cold.”
According to Williams, there have been more than 65,000 heat complaints already this current heating season, which runs from Oct. 1 to May 31. Owners who don’t maintain heat at the currently required 55 degrees overnight are subject to civil penalties that range from $250 to $1,000 daily. For Intro 0722 to move forward, said Williams, the administration has to conduct an environmental impact study. The City Council has been waiting for a review since March 2016. The city hasn’t given a start date.
Patricia George, tenant leader for Flatbush Tenants Coalition, worries that the city will move on Intro 0722 when it’s too late.
“I fear for long-term tenants, who have been here for many years,” stated George. “There is no reason why we should have to complain about getting adequate heat, it should be our right.”