The Bronx is freezing: Borough leads NYC in heat & hot water complaints for sixth year in a row

A new report by RentHop, a real estate listing website that also provides various annual reports in the markets they serve, compiles heat and hot water complaints across the five boroughs of New York City and shows that, once again, The Bronx has by far, the most such complaints.

According to the report, which pulls data from complaints filed to 311, Bronxites filed 42,050 individual complaints out of the 117,315 complaints filed in New York City between October 1, 2022, through January 10, 2023, accounting for 35.84% of the city’s total.

957 Woodycrest in the Highbridge neighborhood of The Bronx, had the most heat-related complaints filed in New York City during the current heat season/Image via Google Street

Brooklyn, the borough with the second-highest rate of such heat-related complaints, accounts for 27.9% of the city’s total, with 32,733 complaints filed during the same period.

But the disparities don’t end there. The report also looks at the top twenty neighborhoods in New York City with heat-related complaints, and 16 Bronx neighborhoods made the top twenty list accounting for a whopping 80% of the list.

The Bronx leads the city in heat related complaints for the past six years/Courtesy of RentHop

And among those neighborhoods, the Pelham Parkway area of the borough is the coldest neighborhood in the city, with 1,293 unique complaints filed during the same period. According to RentHop, Pelham Parkway also saw an increase of 10.7% of such complaints from last year.

Of the top twenty, the first seven neighborhoods are all in The Bronx and are as follows:

  1. Pelham Parkway
  2. Highbridge
  3. Parkchester
  4. Fordham Heights
  5. University Heights
  6. Norwood
  7. Concourse Village

    Meanwhile, in Highbridge, 957 Woodycrest Avenue, a 53-unit apartment building, has the distinction of the building with the most registered heat and hot water-related complaints during the study period. The building was the site of a fire in March of 2021 that started in an apartment on the fifth floor that quickly spread up to the sixth floor.

    Luckily, despite nine injured in that 3-alarm fire, there were no reported casualties.

    According to public records, 957 Woodycrest was purchased for $9,300,000 on July 12, 2019 which was more than twice what it sold for in 2012 when it sold for $4.3 million.

    Complaints per 10,000/occupied units per borough/Via RentHop

    Speaking of fires, this report comes almost exactly a year after the deadly Twin Parks Towers fire in The Bronx, which claimed the lives of seventeen residents, including eight children, and was the deadliest blaze in New York City since the 1990 Happy Land Fire, also in The Bronx.

    The tragic Twin Parks blaze was also the third-worst in the country in 40 years, and it was traced to an electric space heater as the cause of the deadly fire.

    Such space heaters are used due to insufficient heat, and although there were no active heat complaints at the time of the fire, many residents stated that the constant cold was an issue.

    During the New York City “Heat Season,” landlords must maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees between the hours of 6 AM and 10 PM if the outside temperature drops below 55 degrees and between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM, the indoor temperature must be maintained at no less than 62 degrees regardless of the outside temperature. These requirements for the city’s heat season are in effect between October 1st and May 31st of the “winter” season.

    But there is a loophole that is exploited by landlords who place any heat sensors in common areas such as hallways versus monitoring actual temperatures within individual units since there are no regulations that the units themselves actually be monitored unless mandated by New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development for buildings that have had multiple violations and heat complaints in the previous years.

    So without actual monitoring within apartments, the current heat laws as they are, can lead to tragedies such as the Twin Park blaze which leaves desperate tenants without sufficient heat to utilize such dangerous methods like space heaters to provide needed heat within their apartments.

    It’s 2023, and with all the modern technology at our disposal, there’s no reason that individual units can’t have heat sensors to monitor the heating within living spaces to gauge better what’s happening.

    This will not only hold landlords accountable, but it may also prevent future tragedies such as the Twin Parks Towers fire that claimed the lives of almost two-dozen innocent victims.

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    Ed García Conde

    Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.