Fewer heat complaints in NYC, but chilliest renters are remaining that way

The bomb cyclone of 2018 is believed to be the reason for a dip in 311 calls about a lack of heat in 2019. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

With temperatures over the weekend and stretching into Monday and Tuesday feeling absolutely bone-chilling, it may seem hard to believe that the amount of heat complaints made by New Yorkers this year is dwarfed by the number of similar calls made last year by the same time period. The reason is most likely that last year, there was the “bomb cyclone” causing heat-related 311 calls to spike.

RentHop, an apartment listings service, has been conducting annual studies to determine which neighborhoods in New York have the most freezing renters based on the volume of 311 calls about lack of heat. What they have found, in comparing the 2019 data to 2018, is that it’s mostly the same neighborhoods each year with a direct correlation showing neighborhoods with rents lower than the city’s median (around $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit) producing more heat complaints.

The study also came up with a formula that “de-dupes” or ignores duplicate complaints (more than one from one address on the same day) as well as a formula that “normalizes,” taking into account that some neighborhoods are bigger than others by calculating unique complaints per 1,000 rental units. The study also looked at the average asking rents of one-bedroom apartment listings in 2018.

This year’s worst neighborhood was the same as last year’s, Erasmus in Brooklyn with 86.5 normalized complaints, down from 117.5 last year or 1,081 actual complaints this year vs. 670 when de-duped. Median rent for a one-bedroom is $2,140.

The worst offender in Manhattan was also the same as last year, Hamilton Heights at 70.5, down from 92.9 the year before. There, actual complaints were even higher at 1,726 vs. 1,165 de-duped. Median rent for a one-bedroom in this neighborhood is $1,900.

The fewest complaints came from Annadale-Huguenot-Prince’s Bay in Staten Island, which also mirrors last year’s findings though this year the neighborhood tied with another in Staten Island, Arden Heights. Both had 1.9 normalized complaints, down from 2.4 and 4.7 respectively. Annadale-Huguenot-Prince’s Bay had four actual complaints, the same figure when de-duped. Arden Heights had two actual complaints, the same figure when de-duped.

Here’s the 2019 breakdown for Stuyvesant Town, Gramercy, Kips Bay, Union Square and Flatiron:

Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village had 4.9 normalized complaints, down from 8.9 in 2018. The actual number of complaints for the neighborhood this year was 58, 51 when de-duped. Median rent for available one-bedroom apartments is $3,389. (It is worth noting, however, that chilly residents at this massive property may choose to call building management rather than 311.)

Gramercy had 20.5 normalized complaints, down from 25.5. The actual number was 348, 203 when de-duped. Median rent is $3,295.

Murray Hill and Kips Bay were grouped together with a combined 8.3 complaints, down from 18. The actual number was 185, 150 de-duped. Median rent for a one-bedroom is $3,250.

Hudson Yards, Chelsea, Flatiron and Union Square were grouped together with a combined 9.9 normalized complaints, down from 15.1 The actual number was 353, 291 when de-duped.

This year (as of January 22) New Yorkers made a total of 5,040 normalized heat complaints, with the actual number at 87,558, 61,545 when de-duped.

The study also looked at the most complained about addresses, which were mostly in The Bronx and Brooklyn, and came to the conclusion that property owners don’t seem inclined to do anything about their tenants’ concerns.

“The prevalence of repeat offenders is quite disconcerting,” the study’s authors note. “It’s certainly possible that there are people who have it out for their landlords, but this many repeat names likely means that things aren’t being fixed and the same people that suffered last year are again this year.”

During heat season, October 1 to May 31, landlords must provide heat for all tenants. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if it’s below 55 degrees outside, the inside must be at least 68 degrees. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., if the temperature falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees.

4 thoughts on “Fewer heat complaints in NYC, but chilliest renters are remaining that way

    • Right in T&V’s backyard but it took a study from outside the area to get T&V to even mention heat. Journalism at it’s finest.

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