Owners Illegally Removed Buildings' Central Heating Systems
Gov. Cuomo recently announced the first results of an ongoing investigation that uncovered the illegal removal of central heating systems in over two dozen rent-regulated buildings in New York City, impacting 145 tenants. The owners of these buildings, who are required by law to pay for and provide heat and hot water to rent-regulated tenants, had replaced their central heating systems with individual apartment meters, forcing tenants to pay for their own heat.
The Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) uncovered a pattern of abuse in several dozen buildings, mainly in neighborhoods where real estate prices are rising, including Bushwick and Williamsburg. In rent-regulated buildings, the removal of the central heating system and replacement with individual apartment systems without the prior approval of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) constitutes a reduction in basic building services.
HCR sent letters identifying the violations found and the necessary steps the owners of the buildings in question must take to rectify their illegal acts, including restoring the proper heating system and reimbursing tenants for costs they may have already incurred for heat and hot water, and ensuring no costs are passed on to tenants in the future. If owners ignore the letters, the TPU will take aggressive proactive enforcement steps with HCR’s Office of Rent Administration for service reductions and future rent credits for money paid to utility companies, with the possibility of additional overcharge proceedings.