Last week in this blog we discussed the implied warranty of habitability, one of the most important rights provided to residential tenants by New York law. State law provides a number of other tenants' rights, including statutory rights to heat and hot water.
Under New York's Multiple Dwelling Law, if the landlord in a residential building provides hot water, the hot water must be provided 24 hours a day, every day of the year. There is a very limited exception to this requirement if the landlord can prove the building was built before April 18, 1929. In that case the landlord can be relieved of the obligation to supply hot water only if they can also prove that, at the time the building was erected, hot water was neither required nor furnished.
A New York tenant's right to heat is also guaranteed by the Multiple Dwelling Law, as well as by the Multiple Residence Law. The laws provide that if heat is supplied, it must be sufficient to keep an indoor temperature in the unit of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., if the outdoor temperature is below 55 degrees. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the indoor temperature must be maintained at 55 degrees or more, if the outside temperature is below 40 degrees. These rules apply from October 1 through May 31.
If a landlord fails to comply with the laws regarding heat and hot water, the tenant has legal remedies. The tenant can withhold rent until the problem is fixed, and if the landlord commences non-payment rent proceedings the tenant has the option of depositing rent with the court. If the tenant prevails, the deposited rent is refunded.
Source: Metropolitan Council on Housing, "Statutory Rights of Residential Tenants in New York," accessed June 1, 2015