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Another Way To Help Turn Thermostat Up

With winter weather upon the five boroughs, the city has released an update for the 311 mobile application that allows tenants to register heat and hot water complaints from their mobile devices for the first time, it was announced.

The updated app is currently available for download for both iPhone and Android.

The 2014/2015 “heat season” began on Oct. 1 and continues through May 31, 2015. Residential building owners have a legal obligation to provide tenants with hot water year-round and heat when the outdoor temperature warrants it.

In Fiscal Year 2014, New Yorkers registered more than 200,000 heat related complaints to NYC311. Recognizing this as a critical issue for the City’s tenants, 311, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) partnered to create a means to give New Yorkers the option of filing heat and hot water complaints on the 311 mobile app.

To report a heat-related complaint using the updated 311 mobile app, the user simply opens the app and chooses “Heat or Hot Water” from the complaint menu. The user then enters the address for the complaint, selects the type of condition, and indicates if one unit or the whole building is affected.

The user then provides their personal contact information, along with contact information for the owner and the tenant, if available. Once the complaint is submitted by the user, it is sent to HPD in exactly the same way as a complaint initiated in the call center or online. After filing the complaint, users can check for updates by going to the complaint screen in the app.

When the complaint is received, HPD attempts to contact the building’s owner or managing agent to get heat or hot water service restored. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, the HPD will call the tenant back to determine if service has been restored. If the tenant indicates that service has not been restored, or HPD cannot contact the tenant, an HPD inspector is sent to the building to verify the complaint and, if it is warranted, will issue a violation and attempt to access the boiler to assess the problem.

The 311 Mobile App will help the city to meet users where they are, and allow tenants to submit their heat and hot water complaints with ease and speed.

“NYC 311 is pleased to offer New Yorkers a quick and easy option to submit their heat and hot water complaints. The 311 Mobile App is an important part of the plan to make City services more accessible and further the Mayor’s initiative to deliver equity, equality and opportunity for all,” said 311 Executive Director Joseph Morrisroe.

“DoITT is proud to have collaborated with NYC 311 and HPD to further improve the popular 311 mobile app. An outstanding example of mobile technology designed with the user in mind, the 311 app and this latest update is another way the city is using technology to improve the lives of New Yorkers,” said DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest.

“When the temperatures drop, it’s important for tenants to be able to report heat and hot water problems quickly and easily,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “The 311 Mobile App allows users to quickly file complaints, store contact information, and track their service requests. Whether you’re reporting a problem via the 311 Mobile App, 311 Online, or by calling 311, HPD will be there to ensure that landlords comply with the law.”

During heat season, residential building owners with tenants are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees. Hot water is required to be maintained at 120 degrees year-round.

In the event of a heat deficiency, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent, or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should register a complaint via 311.

To date, over 50,000 customers have downloaded the free 311 mobile app that is available on Android and IPhone platforms. In addition to using the mobile app, tenants can still call 311, the city’s central 24-hoursper day, seven-days-a-week information and complaint line, or file complaints via 311 online at www.nyc.gov/311.

Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 1-212-504-4115.

The HPD fields a team of inspectors who work in shifts, and are situated in offices in all five boroughs, to provide coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information on heat season visit the HPD website, www.nyc.gov/hpd.

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