The one upside to a broken heater during a New York winter is that state law is totally clear-cut: your landlord has to fix the problem, and they have to fix it ASAP. If you live in New York City, the protections for renters without heat are even stronger.
What should I do if the heat is broken in my rental?
It’s probably a good idea to start by calling your landlord so they’re aware of the issue right away. But you should also follow up with an email, text, or letter—basically, any form of written communication that proves you alerted them when you did. Also make sure to document the issue if you’re at all concerned your landlord might drag their feet taking care of the problem. Take temperature readings if you can, noting the time and date.
How long does my landlord have to fix the heat?
For a broken heater, they have to fix it as soon as possible. If your heater isn’t straight-up broken—it’s just not heating to the appropriate temperature as required by your city’s laws—your landlord might have a little bit more time to fix the problem.
What if my landlord refuses to fix the heat?
If they refuse, then you may be able to withhold some or all of your rent (or potentially abandon your rental altogether). You may still be allowed to withhold rent even if your landlord doesn't outright refuse to make repairs—for instance, if they're dragging out the process or have tried unsuccessfully to fix the problem.
Are the laws the same in New York City?
Your landlord is absolutely still required to keep the heat on in NYC—and, even better, there are specific temperature requirements laid out by the city. Plus, they have a whole system set up to deal with landlords who aren't taking repairs seriously.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.