Feeling the Heat: Everything you need to know about HPD’s new Heat Sensor Requirements

The HPD has recently begun issuing violations for Local Law 18, also known as the heat sensors program, as established in 2020. Let’s take a quick look at this law so you can stay compliant.

What is Local Law 18?

Local Law 18 of 2020 established a heat sensors program for select buildings. Here’s how it works: Every two years, 50 Class A multiple dwellings will be selected to participate in the program. The first group of buildings was selected by July 1, 2020 and the next group will be selected by July 1, 2022.

All property owners of buildings on the selected list are required to install internet-capable temperature recording devices (heat sensors) into tenant living spaces by October 1 of the selection year. For the current list of buildings, the deadline for installing heat sensors was on October 1, 2020. Property owners must also inform their tenants about the building’s inclusion in the program.

How will I know if my building is on the list of selected properties?

You can view the current list of selected properties here. If your building is on the list, you’ll also receive notice of inclusion from the HPD which gives you 15 days to comply with the program’s requirements.

How are properties selected for the program?

Buildings are selected for inclusion in the heat sensors program based on the number of heat complaints and violations issued over the preceding two years, and whether or not the HPD has received heat complaints for more than one dwelling unit in the property.

My building is on the list—what are my requirements?

If you’ve received notification of inclusion from the HPD, you’ll have 15 days to post a sign on the main entrance door to your building (or another location in a common area) informing your tenants about the program. The sign should be printed in English and Spanish and include the following information:

  • The building has been selected for installation of heat sensors.
  • The requirements of the law including installation of heat sensors.
  • The instructions on how to access the information collected by heat sensors.
  • The tenant’s right of refusal of installation of a heat sensor in his or her unit.

Next, you’ll need to provide and install one heat sensor in one living room of each dwelling unit in the selected building by October 1 of that year.

Your responsibilities in regard to the heat sensors include the following:

  • Replace sensors within a unit that are stolen, found missing, or rendered inoperable during a prior occupancy that weren’t replaced before the start of the current occupancy.
  • Replace sensors within 30 days “after the receipt of written notice provided by the tenant of the dwelling unit where such sensor is located that it has become inoperable due to a defect in the manufacture or installation of the sensor and through no fault of the tenant.”
  • Maintain records for the installation and maintenance of the heat sensors.
  • Maintain records for the collection of data from heat sensors.
  • Have the data records available for the HPD upon request.
  • Maintain records of attempts to access the unit to install heat sensors where the owner is unable to gain access, and the tenant has not refused the installation in writing.
  • Maintain a written record identifying each dwelling unit in which the tenant has officially refused the installation of a heat sensor. Records must be kept for a year after the property has been discharged from the program.

It’s also important to note that owners cannot charge tenants for the acquisition or installation of heat sensors, or for replacements due to wear or malfunction.

Are there any tenant responsibilities associated with the heat sensors program?

Tenants are not responsible to take any action in regards to heat sensors, but they can request to opt out of the program by filling out an opt-out form, available in English and Spanish.

In addition, tenants are to be held responsible for any damage inflicted upon a heat sensor installed in their unit. In the opt-out form, tenants are notified of the following:  If the heat sensor is installed in your dwelling unit, you must not damage it, turn it off, or otherwise make it inoperable. If the heat sensor is stolen, removed, found missing, or is made inoperable by you during your lease term, the owner may replace the heat sensor and charge you a maximum of $50.00 for its replacement.

What violations are associated with this program?

The HPD has recently been issuing some Class B violations for failure to install heat sensors/comply with the program. These violations may also carry housing court penalties ranging from $25 to $100 each, plus $10 per violation per day.

It’s also important to note that general heat violations can also be issued to buildings that are included in the heat sensors program. Daily fines for heat violations run from $250/day to $1,000/day, so it’s crucial to resolve any heat violations as quickly as possible.

The HPD is warning building owners that it will be conducting impromptu inspections in selected buildings to verify compliance with Local Law 18. Additionally, the HPD claims they may impose inspection fees of $200 for the “three strikes rule,” or “if a third or subsequent inspection within a heat season results in a third or subsequent heat violation and if a third or subsequent inspection within a calendar year results in a third or subsequent hot water violation.”

As a reminder, heating violations can be issued during heat season (October 1 – May 31st), while hot water must be provided year-round.

When will my property be released from the program?

If one or more of your properties has been selected for the heat sensors program, you must follow the requirements for four years. If you’d like to be discharged from the program before the four years are up, you can apply for a discharge, but only if you have taken permanent action to address the provision of heat for the following heat season, or if your property has not received any heat-related violations in the preceding heat season. You can apply for an early discharge from the program here.

To learn more about Local Law 18, you can check out the HPD’s summary page about the heat sensors program here.

And, as always, if you need help resolving any compliance issues, correcting violations, or just navigating the City’s compliance code, contact us today. The Jaffa team is always ready to make compliance easy.

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