Council approves bill increasing landlord heating violation fines

Jolinda Brown shows how her sink does not provide hot water in her Jamaica apartment. Photo by Ivan Pereira
By Ivan Pereira

After the City Council passed a bill last week that would enforce tougher penalties on landlords who do not provide heat to their tenants, one alleged Queens victim of the abuse said she was happy about the crackdown.

The Heat Enforcement for All Tenants Act was sponsored by city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio after his office received numerous complaints from city apartment dwellers during the winter. De Blasio said the HEAT Act, which was approved by the Council March 2, will go after landlords by targeting their wallets.

“We don’t want a single New York family to face another brutal winter without heat,” he said in a statement. “We are changing the economics so that landlords will think twice before turning off their tenants’ heat just to save money.”

Under city housing laws, building owners must provide tenants with hot water year-round and heat from October to May whenever the temperature falls below 55 degrees during the day and below 44 degrees at night.

The act would raise the maximum fine issued for landlords who violate this law from $500 per day, per housing unit to $1,000 per day, per unit. The act would mandate the landlord have no violations for two years before the penalties reset to a $500 fine.

Jolinda Brown, 40, of Jamaica, said she was thrilled to hear that the Council was doing something because she is in a cold situation with the landlord of the Francis Lewis Boulevard house where she rents. Brown, who lives with her son and husband at the residence, said her landlord, Loranie Hamilton, has cut off the heat to her home although she had paid her rent on time for weeks.

The public advocate’s office has been helping Brown with her case and she is currently fighting the landlord in Housing Court.

“I really truly believe in my heart that these landlords need to pay for what they do. It’s not humane what they do,” Brown said.

Hamilton did not return a phone call for comment.

De Blasio has already gone after those landlords on his office’s website, with an interactive map and list of landlords who had heat violations.

As of press time Tuesday, there are four Queens properties listed on the database: three in southeast Queens and one in Far Rockaway.

A 37-unit building at 88-22 Parsons Blvd., owned by Avi Felder, had 143 infractions, the most heat violations in the borough; the three-unit building at 108-30 Liverpool St. had 50 heat-related violations; a two-unit building at 94-11 134th St., where no owner was listed, had 28 violations; and a two-unit building at 29-37 Beach Channel Drive, which also had no owner listed, had 29 infractions, according to the public advocate’s office.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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