June 9, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
NYCHA tenants who experience utility outages may soon be entitled to rent relief.
A bill sponsored by State Sen. Mike Gianaris has passed the senate that would provide NYCHA tenants with a rent reduction should their utilities like gas, heat and electricity be out of service.
The legislation was prompted by a gas outage at a NYCHA building at Astoria Houses last year where 48 households at the development were unable to prepare hot meals for nearly three months.
The residents at the 1-04 Astoria Blvd. complex were without cooking gas from Sept. 23 through Dec. 10.
“Months-long utility outages are unacceptable for any New Yorker, whether in private or public housing,” Gianaris said in a statement shortly after Wednesday’s vote.
“NYCHA residents should not be expected to pay full rent, which typically includes utilities, when they are not receiving the service.”
The bill, called the NYCHA Utility Accountability Act, would reduce a tenant’s rent obligation on a prorated basis to compensate for an outage. The reduction would be the greater of 10 percent of the tenant’s rent or $75 per month. The utilities defined by the bill include, gas, heat, water and electrical service.
Gianaris said last year that the outages at Astoria Houses were not isolated and that there have been service disruptions at NYCHA buildings across New York City.
The lawmaker, who represents western Queens, said that his legislation would create a financial incentive for NYCHA to fix service in a more timely fashion.
The bill is now being carried in the assembly by Khaleel Anderson, who represents southern Queens.