The state is cracking down on bad landlords who are breaking the law — and hurting their tenants.

An ongoing investigation has revealed that landlords in over two-dozen rent-regulated buildings in the city have been illegally removing central heating systems and forcing residents to pay for their own heat and hot water, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday. 

RELATED: NYC tenants pressure Buildings Dept. to protect them from landlord harassment

By law, landlords at these buildings are required to pay and provide heat and hot water to the rent-regulated tenants. Instead, 145 of these tenants were led to pay for their own heat after the landlords installed individual apartment meters. 

"My administration is committed to protecting the rights of all tenants, and this action is another example of how we are standing up for New Yorkers and holding unscrupulous landlords accountable," Cuomo said. "These landlords are going to restore their central heating systems, and others should be aware that we will not hesitate to crack down on any illegal behavior.”

Through joint city and state neighborhood inspections and tips from local leaders, the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) discovered a pattern of abuse in dozens of buildings — primarily in areas where real estate prices have been increasing such as Bushwick and Williamsburg. 

RELATED: Housing advocates cheer, landlord group jeers at new task force targeting tenant harassment

After finding out this information, New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) sent letters identifying the violations and outlining the steps which need to be made such as restoring the heating system and reimbursing tenants for what they paid out of pocket.  The owners must also make sure no costs continue to be passed down to the tenants.

If the building owners ignore the HCR letter, then TPU will “take aggressive proactive enforcement steps” with HCR’s Office of Rent Administration (ORA). Some of these measures include reducing services, and future rent credits for payments to utility companies — with the potential for overcharges. 

Tenants living in a rent-stabilized apartment who feel they are being harassed are asked to call ORA or TPU at 718-739-6400.