‘Turning up the heat’: New Legislation could place heat sensors in apartments with bad track records

NEW YORK — New legislation that would install heat sensors in apartment buildings with bad track records of no heat or hot water violations has been introduced by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Council Members Ritchie Torres, Robert E. Cornegy Jr. and Mark Levine.

First, the bill would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, HPD, to identify the 150 buildings with the highest ratios of temperature violations.

Second, heat sensors would be placed in each living room of each unit. These devices are able to display info over the internet for the tenant and owner to view.

“Thanks to tech innovators like Heat Seek, when it comes to combating heat harassment, there’s an app for that. With this legislation, the heat is on,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

Official: NYCHA needs better work-tracking system

Life got better Tuesday for the residents of the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn. They have been without heat since last week's snowstorm. The New York City HousingAuthority said that heat has been restored. But the Brooklyn borough president said NYCHA needs to update its methods.

This cold spell, the worst in decades, has been a challenge for the more than 3,400 people who call the Farragut Houses home.

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Heat Seek Executive Director interviewed for CUNY TV's Independent Voices

On this edition of Independent Sources, hosted by Garry Pierre-Pierre we meet one of the creators of Heat Seek, the latest device in the effort to make landlords more accountable to their tenants during the winter months. What are books deserts and what’s being done to get more students to read. Then part two of our look at how the Smithsonian is diversifying its staff and the art on display. 

Winter is coming: Talking with a techie activist who helps tenants get their heat turned up

Typically, tenant advocates advising renters with chronic heat issues tell them to keep a thermometer in the apartment, and log the temperature regularly with dates and times. A group of tech-minded recent college grads, thinking they could improve on this idea, got together in 2014 and started Heat Seek NYC, an organization that provides remote sensors to low-income tenants, and logs their apartments' temperatures over time in a central database, for use in demanding that heat be restored, and if necessary, printing out and bringing to housing court.

Read the full article here.

Wall Street Journal Features Heat Seek Successes in Brownsville

Wall Street Journal

Tenants and their advocates are using new technology to document a lack of heat in apartment buildings, a condition they say has been difficult to prove in housing-court cases.

Small sensors provided by the New York City-based nonprofit Heat Seek, now installed in some city apartments, measure temperatures and transmit the data to a server. Tenant advocates say the data buttress their contention that some landlords withhold heat as a way to oust rent-regulated tenants.

Read the full WSJ article here. 

Interviews for the article came before we learned that later that day for the tenants at this building, the heat came on...and has stayed on! Our sensors are measuring temperatures consistently 10-13 degrees higher today than the day before the press conference on December 1st. See more here

Joined by impacted tenants and housing lawyers, BP Adams announces lawsuit to monitor heating-related harassment in apartments

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

On Thursday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined impacted tenants and housing lawyers in announcing a lawsuit based on data from an expanding technology partnership to monitor heating-related harassment in Brooklyn apartment buildings. Standing outside 178 Rockaway Parkway in Brownsville, a property that has had numerous heat complaints through 311, they discussed how residents across the borough are utilizing sensors from Heat Seek NYC, the winner of the NYC BigApps 2014 contest, to remotely track the temperature in their homes during the winter months.

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Internet-Connected Thermostats Finally Help Tenants Hold Heat-Stingy Landlords Accountable

Fast Company

This February was the coldest on record in New York City since 1934. Most of us have been spending the winter bundled up inside with our radiators on. But not everyone in the city has reliable heat. Although landlords in New York are required to keep the temperature at a livable level throughout the winter, there are some 200,000 complaints from tenants every year that the heat is below the legal threshold.


Hacking the Law: Apps That Protect Legal Rights

The Huffington Post

Heat Seek NYC will help tenants document when the landlord is obligated to provide heat and when he or she is failing to do so. It will collect data about landlord violations, help tenants document those violations and then assist them in proving their case in court. It will also help responsible landlords who wish to comply with the law identify problems with the delivery of heat so that they can provide their tenants with this essential service.