New study reveals increase in heat complaints in 2018

New study reveals increase in heat complaints in 2018
Photo by Warren Ruda/AP
By Gina Martinez

2018 has already set a record for the most heat complaints in the city.

A study posted by Renthop, a real estate information site, broke down heat complaints by neighborhoods and addresses.

While a majority of the complaints came from addresses in the Bronx and Brooklyn, Queens neighborhoods including Flushing, Laurelton and Hollis saw a significant increase in complaints compared with previous years.

According to the study, in the first week of 2018, one of the coldest in recent memory, New Yorkers made more heat complaints than in any previous year on record. Renthop said that during the bomb cyclone, nearly 30,000 complaints were made, meaning there were about as many cold New Yorkers as there were during the first week of the previous three years combined.

The cold snap brought in 29,386 complaints, 18,567 of them categorized as “unique” (complaints per 1,000 rental units in a neighborhood) compared with the 8,092 complaints, 5,828 of them unique, for the first week of last year.

The NYC heat season begins on Oct. 1 and ends on May 31. During that time, all city landlords are required to provide heat to tenants.

Renthop said some of the key findings from its study were that there was a strong correlation between rent prices and complaints about lack of heat; that besides being the worst first week on record, it also ranked as the most complained-about week of any week over the past three years; and that in terms of unique and duplicated calls, nearly half of the addresses receiving the most unique heat complaints this season ranked high last year as well.

One address in Queens, 89-21 Elmhurst Ave., received 1,298 complaints this heat season in just 50 days. This tops the record the address set last year, when 1,222 complaints were made for the whole heat season. This means that more than 25 complaints per day are being made.

According to Renthop, given some addresses’ continued presence on the list, landlords are not doing enough to ensure residents are warm.

“The same landlords in the same areas still aren’t adequately heating their buildings, and the same Department of Housing isn’t doing enough to make sure these people aren’t cold,” the report said. “One can only imagine how the person or persons at these addresses making hundreds of calls must feel, year after year, cold and seemingly screaming into the wind for help.”

The Queens neighborhoods with the biggest jumps in complaints included Old Astoria, Queensboro Hill and Laurelton.

The report said that according to 311 data, Hollis residents reported 61 complaints so far this heat season compared with 45 total for the entirety of the 2017 heat season, a 34.7 percent increase, and the number will probably continue to rise by the end of heat season in May.

Laurelton has 51.5 complaints this heat season compared with 44.7 in 2016-17, a 15.3 percent increase, while Bayswater in Far Rockaway has 47.5 complaints, an 18 percent increase since 2017. Queensboro Hill in Flushing saw a dramatic increase of heat complaints, jumping 116 percent in complaints from 9.3 during the last heat season to 20.2 this year. Old Astoria heat complaints jumped 90.2 percent, from 11.6 complaints during the 2017 heat season to 22 complaints so far this season.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.