Harlem Tenant Brings Heat Seek Log to Force Landlord

[Please note: names and identifying details have been changed to protect the tenants]

“Every time they came to fix it, they just touched the radiator and said everything was fine,” Sandra said of the maintenance workers in her building. While she’s lived in Harlem for many years, this was her first winter in this building, and it was COLD.

“I called to report the problem, and they wouldn’t do anything about it. I know it’s a building-wide issue that many of my neighbors struggle with,” but Sandra refused to let us. Since this was the main problem in her apartment--no other significant repairs to be made--she hadn’t yet engaged an attorney or community organizer. So, “I reached out to Heat Seek in the midst of my misery”, through a request form on our website. 

Because we had some extra hardware in February, we were able to install sensors for several tenants from our waitlist who lived in buildings that fit our criteria: bad landlords in gentrifying neighborhoods who are trying to drive out rent-regulated tenants. “There’s a concerted effort to get lifelong Harlem residents out of the building, raise the rents, and bring in people of higher incomes,” Sandra reported to Heat Seek. 

After a few weeks with a Heat Seek sensor, we confirmed that her temperatures were consistently below the legal limit, and Sandra wanted to take action. She knew that the city inspection system wouldn’t fix her problem quick enough, so she hand-delivered a demand letter to the landlord, which Heat Seek provided to her along with her heat log.

Her landlord was taken aback--by both Sandra’s persistence and Heat Seek’s sensor--so the chiefs of management and maintenance met with her. “This can’t be right,” they complained, upon first examining her heat log. “I know it’s right,” Sandra replied, confident in her data. Convinced by Heat Seek’s third-party testimony, the management agreed to send another maintenance person again.

“This time, they took the radiator apart, diagnosed the problem, and fixed the broken part. They spent two hours there, unlike their previous visits, and my heat was immediately better!” Sandra tells Heat Seek. “It was nerve-wracking approaching my landlord: I have a lease that ends and don’t know if they want me out. I would not have done it without Heat Seek, a third party without a dog in the fight who just monitors and reports what they see.”

We hear stories like this from many of our tenants: our third-party heat logs provide them much-needed tools in their struggle for sufficient heat. Our work can prevent them from the miserable process of Housing Court, by proving both the tenant's will and the severity of their temperatures. Sometimes, Heat Seek is enough to convince some landlords to do the right thing and turn up the heat.