Housing Complaints

The Housing Preservation and Development NYC Program allows for tenants to file complaints against neglectful landlords. When a landlord fails to provide basic services for tenants, then the tenant is justified in filing a complaint. These issues can include, but are not limited to:

  • Heat and hot water violations (check out our heat violations article here)
  • Use of lead-based paint
  • Broken or no window guards
  • Broken or no carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Pests and bedbugs
  • Mold
  • Illegal Basement and Cellar Conversions

If a tenant’s landlord neglects or refuses to provide or fix any basic services, then the HPD can issue violations, administer emergency repairs, or move to Housing Court.

Filing a Complaint

Before filing a complaint, tenants should always contact their landlord to try to resolve the issue. Only if the landlord does not respond or refuses to resolve the issue should tenants file a complaint.  

Tenants can file a complaint by:

  • Calling 311 or TTY (212) 504-4115
  • Using the 311 website (311ONLINE)
  • Using the 311 mobile app (311MOBILE)

Once the complaint is finalized, tenants will receive a service request number, which will allow them to check the status of their complaint through either 311ONLINE, HDPONLINE, or through 311MOBILE, only if they filed through the app.  


After filing the complaint, the HPD (Housing Preservation & Development) will try to contact the building’s managing agent in order to make sure the complaint is corrected. The HPD will contact the tenant to see if the complaint was corrected.  If the complaint is corrected, then the case will close. If the issue is not corrected, or if the HDP cannot contact the tenant, then an inspector will be sent out.

When a Code Enforcement inspector is sent, the building’s managing agent is not notified of the inspection date. The inspector will look into the complaint that was filed while also checking:

  • Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Lead-based paint if there are children under 6 in the apartments
  • Window guards if there are children under 11 in the apartment
  • Double cylinder locks (locks that require a key from the inside)
  • Bars on the fire escape windows

(Sourse: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/renters/report-an-issue-faqs.page)

If the tenant is not home when the inspector comes, then they will either check another apartment if the issue is building-wide (i.e heat, hot water, etc.) or the inspectors will leave a card with the number that the tenant can call to schedule the next inspection.

If the tenant is home when the inspector comes, they should confirm that the inspector has an HPD identification card and that they are dressed in an HPD uniform. If you are a tenant, always ask to see the card before allowing the inspector to enter your apartment. If they do not have a card or if they are not in uniform, contact your borough’s Division of Code Enforcement. Find your local DCE contact information here.

If violations are found, then the owner will be given a set amount of time within to fix the problem. Tenants can find out if violations have been issued by checking HDPONLINE. Violations will be classified as either Class A, B, or C. Depending on the issue, building owners are given a specific time period to fix them.

If emergency issues are not immediately fixed by the landlord (i.e hot water or heat), then the HPD will contact the tenant and have the issues repaired, if necessary. The landlord will be charged.  

If all other issues are fixed, then the tenant will be notified and the case will close after 70 days. If the issue is not fixed, then the tenant can take legal action through Housing Court. If the issue is not fixed but the tenant is notified that the issue was fixed, then the tenant can request a re-inspection. If the re-inspection finds the issue still unresolved, the case remains open and can move onto Housing Court.  

For more information, visit here.

For information about Housing Court, visit here.


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