With winter in full swing, having sufficient heat to ensure their residences remain habitable are a concern for some local residents.

This can be a particularly vexing issue for apartment dwellers. They don’t own the units they live in, so sometimes there’s only so much they can do to resolve the dilemma at hand.

New York state requires landlords to make sure their apartments can be heated to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Local code enforcement offices handle enforcement.

It’s in the best interests of landlords to see that the apartment buildings they own comply with all laws as it wouldn’t benefit them to have municipal governments impose punitive measures.

They also don’t want to earn a poor reputation in their respective communities for neglecting their units and, thus, dissuading potential tenants. This would definitely be bad for business.

So landlords have a true incentive to maintain the furnaces in their properties. We urge local landlords to ask their tenants how good these systems are operating and make any necessary repairs.

Some code enforcement officers say a big problem is poorly insulated apartments. The heating units are working fine, but drafty dwellings still lead to cold conditions.

Tenants should do what they can to keep the heat in their apartments. Placing plastic around windows can help. If there are bigger structural problems with the building that prevent units from maintaining an adequate level of heat, they should try to work something out with their landlords.

In a Dec. 5 article in the Watertown Daily Times, Watertown Code Enforcement Officer Carolyn Meunier said that “many of the units she gets calls about are older dwellings prone to drafty windows, aged insulation and poor ventilation, all things that are difficult if not impossible for landlords to fix in the immediacy.”

What she does sometimes find that is remediable are rundown, inefficient heating systems usually accompanied by landlords who have put off replacing them.

We can all pitch in by asking people we know who live in apartments how well their dwellings are being heated. This is especially vital when it comes to older individuals. They may be more vulnerable to developing health complications, so keep this in mind when checking up on them.

Cold apartments can be overcome with warm hearts. Let’s work together to make sure we all make it through another winter season.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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