Heating 101

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Karen Behfar

Although winter is no longer at its peak, one of the biggest concerns for many tenants in New York City is the heat in their rental unit. City regulations require all residential building owners to ensure that tenants have adequate heat and hot water throughout the NYC heating season, which runs from October 1 to May 31. Unfortunately, some landlords like to play fast and loose with the rules.

If you’re a renter in New York, it’s important that you know exactly what your rights are in terms of the heating in your residence. Here are the guidelines your landlord is required to follow:

  • Between 6am and 10pm, the temperature in your unit must be at least 68 degrees if the temperature outside is below 55 degrees.
  • Between 10pm and 6am, the temperature in your unit must be at least 62 degrees, regardless of the temperature outside.
  • Hot water from showers and taps must be at least 120 degrees.
  • Hot water from showers with anti-scald devices must be at least 100 degrees.

These rules apply to both residential buildings and privately owned houses being used as rental properties. If your landlord is not complying, you can call 311 to make a complaint. 311 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t be afraid to call.  I would suggest a conversation via text with your landlord in order to keep a record of your communications and to try to work it out before things escalate.

To summarize, as a tenant in New York City, you are legally entitled to heat in your rental unit. If you think the heating requirements are not being met in your residence, call your landlord to work it out.

What You Need to Know About Co-Signing

If you are applying for a mortgage, a first apartment, or are trying to buy a vehicle with a loan, you may be in an insufficient position to complete the process alone. The apartment building or the lender will evaluate your credit score and your income, and if they do not amount to a satisfactory score, you may require the help of a co-signer in order to proceed. A co-signer agrees to take responsibility for the borrower’s debt if they fail to pay it.

The main benefits of co-signing are that it allows an individual to obtain financing and achieve their goals, whether it is to buy a vehicle or purchase a new home. The co-signer also facilitates the growth of a credit line for the applicant, which is challenging to achieve alone, since those without a credit history often do not qualify for new accounts.

It is not uncommon for parents to co-sign so their child can get financing for their first car, home, etc. In doing so, parents leverage their own good credit to help their children get a leg up.

There are, however, a great number of liabilities involved in co-signing, and the co-signer should weigh these elements and consider them carefully before coming to a decision. Firstly, when you co-sign, you increase your debt-to-income ratio. To determine this number, divide the monthly payments you make toward debt by  your monthly income. When you owe more potential debt than you earn, your credit score lowers in conjunction.

As long as the debt remains, you are attached to the loan as a co-signer. You are also responsible for payments if the co-signee fails to make them, and if there is a tragedy or unforeseen circumstances you become solely responsible for the debt. There is a point to consider if you are a co-signer and the actual person you co-signed for makes consistent on-time payments every month from their personal account (we had a scenario where the person made payments from their own business account and therefore didn’t qualify), it’s not considered debt to the co-signer.  (Consult with your financial advisor.)