Brooklyn Boro

New temperature sensors will ‘turn up the heat’ on bad landlords

January 16, 2020 Meaghan McGoldrick

A group of lawmakers met at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday, just before a potential snowstorm this weekend, to hail the passage of a new bill they say will “turn up the heat on bad landlords.”

The legislation, spearheaded by Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres and supported by more than a dozen other councilmembers, mandates that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development identify the 50 buildings with the highest volume of heat violations, taking into consideration complaints from multiple dwellings. The landlords of those buildings will then be required to install a heat sensor in each apartment, which will help the city determine whether or not the landlords are violating the city’s housing code.

HPD would be required to conduct dedicated heat inspections of the buildings at least once every two weeks, according to the text of the bill, and the sensors would remain in place for up to four years

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The new legislation would help curb tenant harassment, Torres said.

“In private housing not only do you have an epidemic of heat and hot water outages, but you have the added element of harassment,” the Bronx legislator said in a statement prior to the bill’s passage. “There are landlords who want to deprive residents of heat and hot water as a means of harassment. This legislation will bring housing code enforcement into the 21st century. Heat and hot water are not a luxury; they are basic necessities of life.”

The bill was passed by the City Council at the end of 2019. It was cosponsored by 14 other councilmembers — half of them from Brooklyn — and pushed for by Borough President Eric Adams and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“With this legislation, we can use technology to hold landlords accountable for heating-related harassment,” Adams told the Brooklyn Eagle. “HPD data shows that last winter, 232,621 complaints were filed about inadequate heat and hot water, most of them in low-income communities of color. It’s time we use real-time tracking to crack down on the worst offenders and embrace 21st-century solutions that protect tenants.”

According to a recently released report by Localize.city, a real estate platform that provides data on property across the city, Brooklyn had the most buildings with heat and hot water complaints from September 2018 through August 2019 — more than 67,500 complaints across 11,053 buildings. The violations made up a third of all the complaints in that time span.

Brooklyn neighborhoods also accounted in the report for half of the top 10 areas citywide with the most heat and hot water complaints: Crown Heights, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and East Flatbush.

HPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The law goes into effect in June, according to Adams’ office.


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