Spring is here: wrapping up our winter 2015 pilot

Spring is here, and as the weather gets warmer, we’re able to take a step back and reflect on this winter’s pilot program. It went exceedingly well! I thought I’d share a bit about how the program ran, how many folks we served, and what we accomplished this winter.

As many of you know, Heat Seek helps tenants resolve their home heating issues by providing the objective, reliable temperature data they need to hold their landlords accountable. We do this by installing low cost, web connected temperature sensors in buildings across New York City. 

For the winter 2015 pilot program, we sought out buildings with the following criteria: (1) an organized tenant association, (2) at a high risk for continued landlord abuse, as identified by our partners, and (3) stated willingness to bring a group case to housing court.

Heat Seek staff and volunteers install the temperature sensors at the beginning of heat season (Oct 1 - May 31), and they remain in place throughout the winter. The temperature sensors monitor the temperature by taking a reading once per hour. Readings are transmitted via 3G internet to our web app, where they are recorded in the tenant’s account.

The web app incorporates the outdoor temperature, the time of day, and time of year in order to identify whether or not a building is in violation of NYC housing code. Tenants and their advocates can access our web app at any time to view their readings and can download heat logs for use in tenant-landlord negotiations and/or housing court.

During the winter of 2016, Heat Seek ran a pilot program in 56 buildings throughout four boroughs.

By the numbers:

  • 56 buildings received sensors
  • 73 individual apartments served
  • 16 community partners, including attorneys, community organizations, and tenant groups, as well as the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) the city agency responsible for enforcing the housing code


While we are still analyzing the results of the winter 2015 Pilot, a few initial trends have emerged:

Heat Seek data help clients achieve more favorable legal outcomes.

In three separate cases that spanned different attorneys and at least eight buildings, landlords made more concessions to their tenants and our clients.

“[Heatseek] data are much more digestible than manual heat logs, especially for judges.” Attorney, Legal Services NYC

“With Heat Seek, I was able to submit proof of the lack of heat in my client’s apartment. Upon seeing the evidence, the landlord and his attorney conceded the issue and the landlord agreed to waive all rent claims and provide a rent-stabilized lease.“ Edmund Witter, Attorney at Legal Aid Society

Landlords restore or increase heat provision when they know Heat Seek sensors have been deployed in their buildings.

In four buildings, tenants shared Heat Seek data directly with their landlords, who shortly thereafter turned up the heat. These increases in heat are reflected in our data.

To view the neighborhoods where Heat Seek was active this winter, be sure to check out our Pilot Map