Current Projects Triage and Diagnosis

Heat Seek: documenting violations with sensors

Can we use technology to seek out problems that have legal dimensions, that people aren’t aware of?

Heat Seek is a technology-based legal tool to help people see if heating code violations have occurred.

It uses sensor technology to watch whether and how homes are being heated in NYC, and identifying when violations happen. It can then track patterns of abuse and work with the landlords and the court system to get to a resolution.

Here is their information about their initial pilot.

Heat Seek helps tenants resolve their home heating issues by providing the objective, reliable temperature data they need to hold their landlords accountable. We do this by installing low cost, web connected temperature sensors in buildings across New York City. During the winter of 2016, Heat Seek ran a pilot program in 50 buildings throughout four boroughs. For this pilot program, we sought out buildings with the following criteria: (1) an organized tenant association, (2) at a high risk for continued landlord abuse, as identified by our partners, and (3) stated willingness to bring a group case to housing court.

By the numbers:

56 buildings received sensors
73 individual apartments served
16 community partners, including attorneys, community organizations, and tenant groups, as well as the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) the city agency responsible for enforcing the housing code.


While we are still analyzing the results of the winter 2015-2016 Pilot, a few initial trends have emerged:

Heat Seek data help clients achieve more favorable legal outcomes.
In three separate cases that spanned different attorneys and at least eight buildings, landlords made more concessions to their tenants and our clients.

“[Heatseek] data are much more digestible than manual heat logs, especially for judges.” Attorney, Legal Services NYC

“With Heat Seek, I was able to submit proof of the lack of heat in my client’s apartment. Upon seeing the evidence, the landlord and his attorney conceded the issue and the landlord agreed to waive all rent claims and provide a rent-stabilized lease.” Edmund Witter, Attorney at Legal Aid Society

Landlords restore or increase heat provision when they know Heat Seek sensors have been deployed in their buildings.
In four buildings, tenants shared Heat Seek data directly with their landlords, who shortly thereafter turned up the heat. These increases in heat are reflected in our data.

Advocates Current Projects

Court Navigator Program to help people through court

NYC Housing Court – Resolution Assistance Program (RAP) offers the Court Navigator Program:

Court Navigator program in NYC

The Court Navigator Program was launched in February 2014 to support and assist unrepresented litigants – people who do not have an attorney – during their court appearances in landlord-tenant and consumer debt cases. Specially trained and supervised non-lawyers, called Court Navigators, provide general information, written materials, and one-on-one assistance to eligible unrepresented litigants. In addition, Court Navigators provide moral support to litigants, help them access and complete court forms, assist them with keeping paperwork in order, in accessing interpreters and other services, explain what to expect and what the roles of each person is in the courtroom. Court Navigators are also permitted to accompany unrepresented litigants into the courtroom in Kings County Housing Court and Bronx Civil Court. While these Court Navigators cannot address the court on their own, they are able to respond to factual questions asked by the judge.

In addition to this court-based program, the courts will also be utilizing non-lawyers to provide legal information and access to homebound individuals.

For information about how to become a Court Navigator.

For information if you are already a Court Navigator.

Administrative Order of the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts relating to the Court Navigator Program (February 10, 2014)