Heating Cost Concerns Boiling Tempers

Home Heating Oil and Gas prices are at record levels and landlords of buildings with rent stabilized tenants (my apartment included!) are threatening to cut heating this winter unless they get some kind of rebate. In the Daily News today, you can see tempers rising quickly long before the cold of winter sets in:
Landlords are warning they may not be able to provide heat for the city's 1.1 million rent-stabilized apartments unless they get a break on oil costs.

Building owners are expected to rally on the steps of City Hall today and demand that lawmakers suspend taxes on home heating oil to help offset the skyrocketing prices.

"Anything short of legislative intervention and we could face unprecedented numbers of tenants consistently without heat this winter - not because owners would ignore their obligation, but because they would be unable to afford heating oil costs," said Joe Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents about 25,000 landlords.

But city housing officials said they will go after landlords who do not provide heat for their tenants, regardless of the cause.

"Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide adequate heat," said Carol Abrams, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

"If a landlord can't or won't provide adequate heat, the city will step in to restore heat to the tenants," she added. "We do take every landlord who gets a heat violation to housing court."

This is going to be a severe problem this winter.  Last year I followed the NYC HO prices as they moved up approx 25-30% from the previous year, and now they're 50% up from last year at this time.

The owners are in a very tough place, and this is more than the normal city landlord/tenant fight.  The costs will be far too high for marginal housing, and that of course is where the neediest are - as well as the oldest housing stock, which is usually the least energy efficient.  Expect more political BS from the pols (Schumer especially), and DN & NYP headlines about freezing grannies and ovens used for heat.  This is the perfect storm of true city politics, and it will be played for all that it is worth by the pols, especially in the middle of a mayoral election with both sides heavily backed (financially on Dem side) by the real estate interests - but do not expect anyone to suggest increasing efficiency or any other modestly intelligent ideas.

It will be a challenge for all of us to try to focus the verbal heat on the real problem and the warning this winter will be giving us for the future.  Anyone have any ideas?

Exactly, if we are going to take an action to help either the landlords or the tenants, the best move would be to give tax credits for improving energy/fuel efficiency, not cash payouts, not subsidies for fuel.
Here's one reason NYC is not so prepared for high energy prices -- many tenants don't control their individual energy consumption, and can't respond to high prices by keeping their individual apartments at whatever temperature they choose.  Like so many things in New York, it's an all or nothing game.

Obviously it would not be possible to retrofit many of the city's older buildings with new heating systems, and I'm not sure what doing so would mean for overall efficiency.  But perhaps there's an economically feasible way to encourage thermostats in individual apartments, at least in smaller buildings.