NYC Vows To Crack Down On Heat-Meiser Landlords

CBS 2 Gets City Hall To Act After Years Of Inaction

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.

More from Marcia Kramer
  • lynn

    Some people can not afford to move. I live in california and our cold is no were near what it’s like there . But i would reccomend tenants find someone to show them how to turn the heat back on, legal or not!! Otherwise get a good electirc blanket and down comforter.

  • Whaaaambulance

    Don’t they sell portable heaters? The landlord should be doing the right thing……. but till then, wouldn’t a logical person put a portable heater in their room to stay warm?

    Some people just depend on the system, way to much.

    If it weren’t a involuntary system, I think people would forget to breath if they weren’t told to do so.

    • Steven Foellmi

      why should they spend $$$ for a RIGHT to have heat in there own place! besides portable heaters are a fire just waiting to happen!! those old wires behne the walls cant handle all those amps!! DONT USE THEM!

    • Richard Rebel

      You are missing out on the point.

      For smart reasons the city requires heat provided by landlords. People have resorted to portable heaters, kerosene heaters, etc, and they are a notorious fire risk. There were a rash of elderly deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning a while ago as well.

      Portable heaters are VERY inefficient. My own electric bill went up $300.00 than summer’s bills last winter, and I use an air conditioner when it’s hot! Some people simply cannot afford a 300 a month increase. The landlord using gas or oil would pay a small fraction of that (say 10 dollars) to heat a single apartment via the central boiler.

      Landlords are skimping and they don’t care. And many of them won’t insulate or weatherproof older buildings as they only care to milk them for whatever rent they can.

  • mgiordano

    stop complaining lets not forget that we have to conserve energy for the sake of global warming. Landlords are only following what the media and all liberal politicians have been bombarding us every day with TV ads.

    • jason

      actually you dont sound like a landlord. you sound like a complete idiot!

    • lynn

      mgiordano, you sound like a LANDLORD, a heartless one at that.

    • John

      This approach to conserving energy gets us nowhere. The reason we are concerned about our planet is that WE live on it. Taking a suicide approach to it only causes stagnation and does not encourage us to find a better solution to the problem. Going cold turkey just doesn’t get us anywhere.

  • RichieT

    NYrbychoice, Water in a sink over 140 degrees has absolutely nothing to do with a heating system. Hot water is heated in apartment buildings by a “water heater”. Not a furnace or boiler. The cost of using a “water heater” to heat hot water, is nothing compared to what it costs to heat it with a furnace or boiler. Water heaters are designed to heat water. Furnaces, or boilers are designed to heat buildings. My steam boiler tops off from my hot water line. It saves a lot of gas that way. .

  • sandbagged

    What is a “Meiser”?

  • F.J. Leghorn

    If you don’t think this is a problem, then you need to watch the 1991 film called “The Super”. It shows exactly how these landlords are. The building featured in this film was a death trap!

  • NYCR-N-R

    I find a bullet to the head can do wonders

  • feusha

    I lived on that block before and most of the landlords on that block doesn’t care for there tenants and they also lack on fixing apartment on putnam avenue this is not the only year this been going on for years it’s sad that these landlords only care about there money and doesn’t care about the well being of the tenants

    • Earth to tenants... come in

      A rent strike is the BEST way to get things done. It’s not rocket science: hold their money in escrow until they fix the heat. Duh.

  • BlameTheCity

    Had the same problem where I lived. There is a very simple solution. MOVE OUT. People do NOT use common sense, they just leave themselves stuck in the situation and complain about it. Why wait years for politicians to create new laws and fines. I gave my landlord 60 days notice and he was fine with it. Prior to signing my new lease, I knocked on a few tenants doors and asked how the heat was in the building. My friend owns a 6 family building and I have heard his side of the story.Oil prices have quadrupled in the past few years, Sir Bloomy raised his property taxes 40% on him and insurance rates have skyrocketed. So the case may be that some landlords are not from hell, they just don’t have the money. On top of all that, he also has to pay the mortgage on the building. He told me that he has to put money out of his pocket many times to keep the building afloat. The building where I live now is owned by a large corporation rather than a private owner. The larger corporations have more money thus no heat issues. My take.

    • Dwight

      These are rent-controlled apartments. They cannot really move out. Do you have any other smart suggestion?

  • Homeless Person

    As a homeless person using the computer at the library I pray I can live in an apt with no heat….

  • Same old same old

    Thanks for all of your hard work Mike Bloomberg and the Sh!tty, I mean City Council! The penalty should be that any building that doesn’t provide basic services such as heat or hot water is subject to seizure and auction by the City. That will wake deadbeat landlord’s up.

  • Dave Johnson

    hell yes, I would break into whatever utility room and turn it back on. Im sure somebody can find an axe to get in there and hotwire it

  • betty travieso

    Betty, i live in the bronx and am expriencing the same problem. i have called 311 from oct. to now over 30 times. i have a daughter who is blind and has cerebral plasy and is confined to her bed under 4 comforters and complaints of numbness when its to cold. landord has boiler on timer heat only comes on 3 times day for 15 to 20 mins. a day. 6:15 a.m. , 5:30 p.m. , and 9:50 p.m. inspectors come and the super alerts landlord and landlord will by computer trip the boiler on only so inspectors hear the heat running as soon as they leave its off again. landlord has things so out of wack that my 10 yr,old can’t bathe unsupervised cause hot water has been test by HPD inspectors to be 140 degrees and above for more than a year and just recently still problem exsist . biut landlord still gets away with it. when will someone step in even courts say pay ur rent this is not grounds good enough to stop paying rent, what is( one child can get burned with scalding hot water that i have no control of and the disabled child can freeze to death. when is enough gonna be enough please let me know.

    • NYrbychoice

      You dont make sense. If the water is above 140 degrees, it should be able to heat the building.



  • lenny

    get somebody to turn it on go to the basement and look for the off n on or the timer i do in my place i got keys i know how to do it evevy happy were i live they open the windows sometimes

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