Brush up on NYC's winter building rules and regulations

Share this Article

Even in an unusually warm winter like this one, the season still comes with extra apartment related hassles—unshoveled sidewalks, for instance, or heat that doesn't come on when necessary.

If you find yourself wondering whose job it is to shovel, what to do with your car, who you have to tip, and what's going on with your heat at any point in the next couple of months, consider this your official cheat sheet for the city's rules and regulations surrounding winter-related woes:

Snow removal

If you live in a typical apartment building, the building management is responsible for handling sidewalk shoveling. And as we've written previously, it's a nice idea to bring your super—or whoever's doing the shoveling—a hot cup of coffee, or to offer to buy them lunch as a show of appreciation.

If you own your own building, however, the responsibility for shoveling falls on you. City guidelines recommend clearing a path at least four feet wide on the sidewalk, and also clearing out any snow that's accumulated around fire hydrants. If snowfall ends between 7 am and 4:49 pm, you need to clear within four hours. If it ends between 5 pm and 9 pm, you have 14 hours, and if it ends between 9 pm and 6:59 am, you have until 11 am to shovel. (Read the full city snow removal guidelines here.)

One potential option if you don't have a friendly young neighbor you can hire to do the work for you: A new app called Shovler recently launched to pair snowbound New Yorkers with shovelers-for-hire.

Digging out your car

As a rule, when there's heavy snowfall, the city will usually suspend alternate side parking. However, they reinstate it long before the snow melts in order to facilitate snow plowing and other cleanup. For car owners, your best bet is to sign up for updates to stay on top of any changes to typical parking rules.

And if you're unable to dig out your car yourself, you can hire someone via Shovler, or other services like TaskRabbit, to do the job for you. Barring an exceptionally heavy snowfall, expect to pay around $20 to $35 for the privilege.

Heating requirements

From October 1st through May 31st, New York's "heat season" is in effect and property owners are required to keep apartment temperatures above certain levels. (Between 6 am and 10 pm, if the temperature is below 55 degrees, the temperature in the apartment needs to be at least 68 degrees. Between 10 pm and 6 am, if the temperature outside is below 40 degrees, the apartment must be at least 55 degrees.) If your landlord fails to maintain the heat, 311 makes it easy to lodge a complaint against building management (tips on that here.)

If your apartment is overheated, however, don't be tempted to turn the knob on the radiator in an attempt to adjust the apartment's heat. The knob is simply an on-off mechanism, and can break down over time if you tinker with it too much, posing safety hazards. Instead, if opening your windows doesn't do the trick, consider paying for the installation of a steam vent or radiator valve, or simply buying a radiator cover to mitigate the effects of the excess heat. Details on both can be found here.


Also Around the Web