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NYC Vows To Crack Down On Heat-Meiser Landlords

CBS 2 Gets City Hall To Act After Years Of Inaction
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This is the building where Puglla says the heat is turned off at night. (credit: CBS 2)

This is the building where Puglla says the heat is turned off at night. (credit: CBS 2)

Marcia Kramer thumbnail Marcia Kramer
Marcia Kramer joined CBS 2 in 1990 as an investigative and political...
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Gladys Puglla had no heat in her Bushwick apartment again Tuesday night. How cold was it?

“If you touch your nose right now how cold it is to be outside right now, that’s how close it was in my bedroom,” Puglla said.

As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer first told you Tuesday Puglla had no heat at night during the past 12 winters. Her landlord, she said, turns the boiler off at 6 p.m. so on Wednesday Kramer asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg why the city hasn’t helped her.

“It’s gone on for how many years?” Bloomberg asked.

Kramer: “Twelve years.”

Bloomberg: “Twelve years? Rafael, you can blame your predecessor.”

The mayor made his housing commissioner, Rafael Cestero, answer the question and he vowed not only to help Puglla but to go after other landlords who don’t obey the city’s heat and hot water laws.

“We’re coming after ‘em. Our enforcement team is the best in the country. We’re there and we’re coming after them,” Cestero said.

As for Puglla, she took her story to a City Council hearing that was seeking to increase the penalties for landlord’s who don’t provide heat. Turns out it’s not an isolated case.

Since October, 3-1-1 logged more than 150,000 heat and hot water complaints.

RELATED: Public Advocate Turns Up The Heat On Stingy Landlords | Cold Weather Health & Safety Tips

After Kramer’s discussion with the mayor and his housing chief, officials said they were going to try to come to her apartment Wednesday night, where she boils water to keep from freezing, and then go after the landlord if he is at fault.

“I’ll believe it when I see it. Of course we need to keep pressure. The story here is a really troubling one,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said.

boiling water NYC Vows To Crack Down On Heat Meiser Landlords

Puglla says she boils water to provide heat (credit: CBS 2)

Hayde Rodriguez of Bushwick is an example of how troubling. She said she hasn’t had heat since December — the thermostat in her apartment on Wednesday afternoon read just 50 degrees — and she has records of numerous calls to the city seeking help.

“I called today again. I made another complaint. They say we went over there yesterday and you wasn’t home but I was home every single day,” Rodriguez said.

Katiria Nieves told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown she sleeps with three quilts.

“It’s cold in this crib. At night it’s worse cause it’s like an ice cube in my room,” she said. “It was freezing in here, freezing. Now is when they put heat. They put heat in the morning and at nighttime they don’t put heat.”

Sound Off: Does Your Landlord Shut Off Your Heat In The Cold?

On Tuesday night, with temperatures dipping into the teens and wind chills even colder than that, she told Brown that staying warm was impossible.

Nieves pointed to a hole in her floor that she said not been patched for months, and said she’s forced to use the kitchen stove for heat. It’s a dangerous alternative but something other residents in this building said they do as well.

While the city says it has a rigorous enforcement program it’s obviously a work in progress and some people still fall through the cracks.

City law states that apartments must be heated to 68 degrees during the day and 55 at night.

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