How to Comply with HPD's Heat Sensors Program
Enforcement is strict, and penalties for violations are steep.
As the current heat season ends on May 31, it's a good time to review HPD's latest code enforcement program related to heat complaints. In response to the persistence of complaints of inadequate heat, the City Council passed Local Law 18 of 2020 (Administrative Code §27-2033), which became effective last June. The law requires HPD to require certain owners to provide and install an Internet-capable temperature-reporting sensor in each apartment. We'll go over how you can avoid being selected to participate—and what you must do if you are selected. We’ll also give you a Model Form: Use Form to Comply with Heat Sensor Program's Recordkeeping Requirements.
Heat and Hot Water Basics
HPD's Code Enforcement Division is responsible for ensuring that residential building owners comply with NYC's Housing Maintenance Code and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. In accordance with the Maintenance Code, owners must supply their tenants with adequate heat from Oct. 1 to May 31, the "heat season," which translates to a minimum of 68 degrees between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when the outside temperature is below 55 degrees and at least 62 degrees between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. regardless of the outside temperature.
Tenants who believe they aren’t receiving the required services can file a complaint through NYC’s 311 municipal service system, which is then forwarded to HPD for its response. HPD considers a heat and hot water complaint to have been addressed if a tenant who has been contacted by HPD states that service has been restored or if HPD conducted or attempted to conduct an inspection. When an inspection confirms that the owner isn’t providing the required heat and/or hot water, HPD issues a notice of violation to the owner and can pursue progressive civil penalties against the owner through NYC Housing Court.
Heat Sensor Compliance Requirements
Every two years, HPD is required to identify 50 buildings with temperature violations and other heat-related issues. Owners of selected buildings are required to install one heat sensor in one living room of each dwelling unit in the building by Oct. 1 of the year in which the property is selected, unless tenants opt out. Heat sensors can measure indoor air temperature and record the temperature, along with the date and time of the reading. With the installation of heat sensors, such information will be accessible to owners and tenants of the units in which the sensors are placed. The owner’s failure to comply may result in the issuance of a hazardous violation.
After installation, HPD will conduct inspections during heat season at least once every two weeks in buildings that are selected for participation, without receipt of complaints, for compliance with the heat requirements. These inspections may be discontinued where HPD finds consistent compliance by Jan. 31 of the heat season.
Owner requirements. Specifically, owners are required to:
- Provide and install one heat sensor in one living room of each dwelling unit in the selected class A multiple dwelling by Oct. 1 of the year in which HPD notifies the owner of its selection for the program.
- Replace any sensor that was stolen, removed, found missing, or rendered inoperable during a prior occupancy of the unit and wasn’t replaced before the current tenant took occupancy.
- Replace the sensor within 30 days after the receipt of written notice from the tenant that the unit’s sensor has become inoperable due to a defect in the manufacture or installation of the sensor and through no fault of the tenant.
- Maintain records relating to the installation and maintenance of the heat sensors and collection of heat data from the sensors and make those records available to HPD upon request.
- Maintain a record of reasonable efforts to gain access to a tenant’s dwelling unit to install a heat sensor where the owner has been unable to gain such access and such tenant hasn’t refused the installation of the sensor in writing.
- Maintain a written record identifying each dwelling unit for which the tenant has refused installation of a heat sensor. Records must be kept for not less than one year after the owner is no longer subject to the provisions of the law.
- These requirements continue for four years—the time period for participation in the program, unless the owner is discharged from the program sooner.
Owners may not charge the tenant for the acquisition or installation of a heat sensor, nor for the replacement of a sensor due to wear or malfunction.
Tenant requirements. Tenants of each unit in which a heat sensor was installed by the owner must:
- Keep and maintain the heat sensor in good repair.
- Replace any heat sensor that’s stolen, removed, found missing, or rendered inoperable during the tenant’s occupancy, except that the owner may make the replacement and charge the tenant a maximum of $50 for the cost of each such replacement.
Tenants in a building selected for installation of heat sensors have the option to refuse installation of a heat sensor in their dwelling unit. Tenants must give the owner written confirmation of their decision to opt out of the installation.
Violation and Penalties
Remember that with this new enforcement program, HPD will conduct unprompted inspections for compliance with the heat requirements at least once every two weeks on the selected buildings. These are inspections initiated without receipt of complaints.
HPD will issue Class B hazardous violations at $25-$100 each, plus $10 per violation per day for failure to install the heat sensors and to comply with the requirements of the program. In addition to this penalty, general heat violations can be imposed at $250-$500 per day for each violation from and including the date the notice is posted at the building until the date the violation is corrected. The charges can increase from $500 to $1,000 per day for subsequent heat violations at the same building.
Also, HPD may impose an Inspection Fee of $200 if a third or subsequent inspection within a heat season results in a third or subsequent heat violation and if a third or subsequent inspection within a calendar year results in a third or subsequent hot water violation.
Selection and Notification
Buildings will be selected based on the number of heat violations placed over the preceding two years and whether the department has received heat-related complaints from more than one dwelling unit. By next July, HPD will select a new set of Class A multiple dwellings and notify the respective owners and managing agents of their responsibilities and how to be discharged from the Heat Sensors Program. The current list of selected buildings for the heat sensor program can be found at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/heat-sensor-program-building-list-2020.pdf.
Owners must notify all tenants by providing an opt-out form and posting a sign, within 15 days of the notice that they receive from HPD, on the building’s main entrance door, or another conspicuous location in a common area stating in English and Spanish:
- The building has been selected for installation of heat sensors.
- The requirements of the law including installation of heat sensors.
- The instructions on how to access the information collected by heat sensors.
- The tenant’s right to refuse installation of a heat sensor in his or her unit.
A sample notice in English can be found at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/hsp-6-notice-to-tenants-program-information-flyer.pdf. The notice in Spanish can be found at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdfs/services/hsp-6-notice-to-tenants-program-information-flyer-spanish.pdf.
Participating owners may apply to HPD to be discharged from the program in less than four years if HPD didn’t issue any heat violations during the immediately preceding heat season, or if the owner has demonstrated to HPD that it has taken permanent action to address the provision of heat for the next heat season. Owners would be required to show necessary documents to validate the work that was performed.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Use Form to Comply with Heat Sensor Program's Recordkeeping Requirement|