As the polar vortex continues to channel cold arctic air into New York City, New Yorkers are bracing for another week of wet and snowy weather. While staying warm at home is the only option for most people due to the pandemic, some are not so fortunate, especially those who rent apartments in the city.
Although required by the New York Heat Act, some landlords are too forgetful to turn on the heat, leaving tenants to face the consequences of their irresponsible actions. Our studies over the past two years have shown that parts of the city, such as Erasmus (Brooklyn), Norwood (the Bronx) and Hamilton Heights (Manhattan), just don’t get the heat they need, despite people’s complaints. 311. As we prepare for the cold with hot chocolate, it’s time to see which neighborhoods are suffering the most this winter.
- In total, 114,102 complaints about heating / hot water were made to 311 by New York residents between October 1, 2020 and February 2, 2021. After grouping complaints by day and address, we found 82,811 unique complaints of heat. This number is 5.4% higher compared to the same period last winter. All the boroughs experienced increases in the number of unique heat violations. [Figure 1]
- The Bronx continues to be the worst borough with the highest number of unique complaints. From October 1, 2020 to February 2, 2021, the borough saw 27 820 single heat complaints or 667.3 complaints / 10,000 tenant occupied units. Among the 50 worst neighborhoods with heat violations, 31% or 62 are located in the Bronx.
- Kingsbridge Heights is the worst of more than 180 New York neighborhoods. The district registered 1,111 unique complaints or 1,226.4 complaints / 10,000 dwellings occupied by tenants, 34.0% more than the same period last year. [Figure 2]
- Meanwhile, heat complaints have skyrocketed Parkchester. In total, 1036 unique complaints have been filed this season, 140.9% higher than last winter.
- Hamilton heights continued to be Manhattan’s worst neighborhood. From October 1 to February 2, 2021, the district saw 1324 unique heat complaints, 7.4% less than the previous winter.
- Our analysis indicates that as rents decrease, the observed incidence of heating violations increases. [Figure 3]
- Some of the worst heat violation violators include 1713 Harman Street in Queens (276 complaints / 99 unique), 2176, avenue Tiebout (1270 complaints / 96 unique) and 2040 Bronxdale Avenue (634/93 unique complaints) in the Bronx, and 2305 Bedford Ave (86 complaints / 84 unique).
When does the heat season start?
To get started, let’s first discuss what the “heat season” entails. In New York, landlords are required to provide heating to all tenants from October 1 to May 31. Although this is indeed a long period of time, the requirements are quite low:
- Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., if the outdoor temperature drops below 55 degrees, the indoor temperature must be at least 68 degrees F
- Between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., if the indoor temperature must be at least 62 degrees F, no outdoor temperature requirement
Unfortunately, not all owners do a good job. Some addresses have been posted hundreds of times since we entered the heat season, such as 2176 Tiebout Avenue and 2040 Bronxdale Avenue in the Bronx. Surely, when tenants are hurting, they make dozens of complaints every day at 311. So we have grouped the heat / hot water complaints by address and date of creation. Complaints lodged on the same day concerning the same building are considered as a single complaint. From October 1, 2020, start of this heat season, to February 2, 2021, the city received 82,811 unique heat-related complaints, an increase of 5.4% than the single total number of 78,557 in the same period last year.
Mapping of 311 heat complaints by neighborhood in New York
The map below illustrates the “coldness” of each New York neighborhood. The darker the shade, the more heat complaints there are for every 10,000 tenant-occupied units a neighborhood has experienced this winter. You can click on the neighborhood to find out more.
As we can see from the nuances, tenants in the Bronx and Brooklyn tend to suffer more than in other boroughs. In fact, looking at the top 50 neighborhoods with the most unique complaints this year, we found that 31 of them, or 62%, are neighborhoods located in the Bronx. Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx is the coldest neighborhood this winter season in New York City, with 1,226.4 unique heat complaints / 10,000 tenant-occupied units filed from October 1, 2021 to February 2, 2021. Meanwhile, things have turned upside down. aggravated in Parkchester, the Bronx this year. The district, ranked 48 last year during the same period, ranks third this year, with 1053.9 unique complaints / 10,000 tenant-occupied dwellings.
Figure 1 below further summarizes the number of normalized heat complaints by district between October 1 and February 2 from 2016 to 2021. We can see that the Bronx has historically been the worst district when it comes to heat complaints. , 77.4% worse than the last wave in Brooklyn. season, and 88% worse this year. It should be noted, however, that the five boroughs saw an increase in the number of unique complaints this year. Queens tenants deposited 9.5% more Unique heat / hot water complaints this winter season as of February 2nd.
These are the coldest neighborhoods in New York
The higher the rent, the warmer the room
In addition to the geographic location of heat complaints and proximity to the city center, we also took the time to explore the relationship between rental rates and heat complaints.
In order to assess the correlation between median room rent and the incidence of a heat / hot water problem, we compared the two and calculated the correlation coefficient. We have found that there is a negative correlation (-0.525) between median room rent and number of heating complaints / 10,000 tenant occupied units In other words, as rents increase, the observed incidence of heating violations decreases. To some extent, this is not surprising, as landlords who charge higher rents tend to have more resources and staff on their management team.
Beware if you are looking to rent in one of these buildings
As well as breaking down the heat complaints by their respective neighborhoods, we figured we would also see how many times each address has been reported this winter. Don’t want to spend cold days calling 311 and freezing at home? Make sure to check out these repeat offenders before signing your lease! You can explore the data further by sorting the data by column or by performing a quick search using the search bar.
The interactive table below summarizes all of New York City’s neighborhoods (excluding parks and cemeteries) and the number of heat violations filed between October 1 and February 2. We then ranked the neighborhoods based on standardized heat complaints.
For this study, we looked at the 311 heat / hot water complaints posted by the New York OpenData Portal. We limited the scope to only complaints filed between October 1 and February 2, as this allowed us to properly compare each neighborhood, borough and address from year to year. Of course, some tenants struggling with the cold can create multiple complaints in a day. Deduplication helps minimize the effects of potentially malicious or very angry residents. We did this by consolidating same-day complaints from the same address.
To fairly rank neighborhoods, we further normalize the data by dividing the number of heat complaints by the number of units occupied by renters in a neighborhood recovered via the American Community Survey (people owning their home and being cold should settle this dispute with their other). The number used to rank neighborhoods and compare them to median rents represents single complaints per 10,000 tenant occupied (UK) dwellings in a neighborhood.
The 1BR median rents used in the analysis were compiled via the one bedroom rental listings created on RentHop between October 1, 2020 and February 2, 2021. Only neighborhoods with more than 20 unique listings were included in the regression analysis.