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Landlords are required by New York law to: provide heat and hot water, but the person responsible for paying depends on the type of building you rent in, according to our experts.

New Yorkers living in antebellum apartments often have to deal with old, noisy and difficult to operate steam radiators – the heat there is generally covered by the rent. Those in new developments can usually set their own thermostat, but usually pay for their own heat, a scenario that occurs when a building has electric heating.

“Many newer buildings have individual heating units and the heat is metered and paid for by the tenant,” says Sam Himmelstein, an attorney representing residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations (FYI, a Brick sponsor). He says tenants should check their lease – that is where it is determined who pays for the heating.

“If the lease is silent on the matter, in my opinion it would be the landlord to pay,” he says.

Still, electric heating is quite rare in NYC, says Adam Frisch, senior managing director of leasing at Lee & employees, a management company that represents owners of small buildings in Manhattan.

“If a tenant pays for heat directly, that means a separate meter,” he says. He says he is aware of a walkable building in Chelsea where electric heating is paid for by tenants, and the landlord is offering tenants credit to pay them back.

“With almost no buildings, a tenant would have to pay for gas heat, unless it is a loft with living/working status,” says Frisch.

But he offers this reality check: “In a sense, you’re still paying for heat from your rent,” he says, because your rent goes toward construction costs, even in a gas-heated building. And higher heating costs can lead to an owner increasing the rent upon renewal.

If your lease doesn’t specify who pays for heat — and your landlord refuses to pay for it — you can: file a complaint with 311.

The heat season, which lasts from October 1 to May 31, is now underway, and if the outside temperature drops below 55 degrees during this time (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), your landlord should turn up the heating so that your apartment is at least 68 degrees. At night, the temperature in your apartment should be at least 62 degrees, regardless of the temperature outside.

If your landlord does not comply with this, you must report this to the municipality. For more information, read Brick Underground’s comprehensive guide to tenant heating.


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