The city doesn’t care about your sweatbox

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
May 6, 2010 - 11:30AM

New York’s spate of warm spring weather is making some apartment dwellers testy.

BrickUnderground has heard from several residents complaining that they are living in high-rise sweat lodges: Their centrally air-conditioned buildings have not yet flipped the switch from hot to cool.

They want to know whether there's a law requiring buildings to cool things down when the mercury hits a certain level.

Short answer:  No.  

The NYC building code says heat must be provided from October 1st to May 31st when the temperature dips below 55 during the day or 40 degrees at night.

But there’s nothing on the books about when the big chill must occur.  And once it does, the heat stops, which means a building could be subject to fines and violations in a subsequent cold snap.

“Buildings that have central heating and air conditioning systems cannot run both at the same time or quickly switch from one system to the other,” explains Dan Wurtzel, the president of Cooper Square Realty.  “May and October are tough months because you have warm-to-hot days and can still have cool-to-cold nights.”

Depending on the risk appetite of your building and the velocity of complaining by you and your neighbors, your building might switch over before the end of the month.

“The boards determine with guess work and weather watching,” says Paul Herman, the director of management at Brown Harris Stevens Residential Management, referring to co-ops and condos.  “Some turned them on this week and will now get complaints as we get colder over the weekend.”

In the meantime, apartment dwellers with window and wall units have the best of both climates.

“Residents have already begun to use them in my building,” says resident manager Joseph Shkreli. “Also our lobby a/c unit has been up and running for about a week now.”

Related links:

The cost of cool: Tipping advice for a/c season

The big chill: Putting central a/c in your apartment

Water torture: My upstairs neighbor's a/c is driving me crazy

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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