On August 28 2017, Mayor de Blasio signed Local Law 147/2017, requiring all multi-family properties in New York City to create a smoking policy for the building. The law does not dictate the contents of the policy, leaving it up to landlords, Boards and managers to do so. Once created, the written policy must be distributed annually to all residents. Building owners must comply with this new law within one year of the enactment date. Now is the time to discuss this issue with your property manager, so that the Board has plenty of opportunity to create and distribute the smoking policy by the August 28, 2018 deadline in order to avoid fines for noncompliance.
Many buildings have encountered issues with short-term rentals by unit owners, through websites such as airbnb.com. Some owners have listed their apartments and host a steady stream of visitors staying for a few nights or a week at a time. This can be a lucrative business for anyone with prime New York property who doesn’t need to live there on a daily basis, but it is also illegal. Such rentals violate New York City’s Multiple Dwelling Law, which bans rentals of less than 30 days, unless the unit owner or leaseholder is also staying there. They also violate the City’s Real Property Law, which requires that renters get the landlord’s consent before taking in a sublettor.
In addition, short-term rentals are against the house rules in most buildings. Many co-ops and condos have implemented rules specifically prohibiting this type of rental. Some have levied large fines for breaking the rules. “Our condo nes owners $1,000 for listing their apartments on airbnb.com or operating a similar type of rental business in their units,” says one Midtown Board President. “This new policy seems to be working. Before we had this penalty in place, some residents were literally renting out their units every night of the week, resulting in a parade of unknown individuals coming in and out of the building.”
If your building is grappling with the short-term rental problem, be sure that rules are put in place, fines are implemented, and residents are informed of the new policy. In most cases taking such action will solve the problem.
Even though many New Yorkers are still not aware of it, a full ban on the disposal of electronics went into effect on January 1, 2015. The grace period for avoiding fines of $100 per violation is about to end, so be sure all residents are up to date on the newest recycling regulations.
Enacted by Governor Cuomo in 2010, the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act is overseen by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The law went into effect in stages, with the final stage being the January 1, 2015 statewide ban on the disposal of electronics, except through acceptable recycling avenues.
If you live in a building of more than ten units, your property is entitled to free “room cleanout” service by the New York City Department of Sanitation, under their new “e-cycleNYC” program. These buildings can collect and store unwanted electronics and arrange for pick-up by calling 212-437-4647 or emailing e-cycleNYC@dsny.nyc.gov. Pick-up is guaranteed within five business days.
Buildings of 50 or more units will be provided with a locked storage bin in which to collect electronics for pick-up within three business days of contacting the e-cycle program. Properties with 250 or more units can contact the City to schedule e-cycleNYC events on the premises, and inform residents of when and where to bring their electronics for pick-up. According to the City’s website, data on electronic devices will be fully erased by e-cycleNYC as part of the recycling process if you live in an eligible building.
The City will pick up large electronic devices including TVs, VCRs, DVRs, DVDs, cable and satellite boxes, video game consoles, computers and peripherals such as hard drives and keyboards, printers, scanners, fax machines. They will also pick up small devices such as tablets, mobile phones, MP3 players, and iPods.
Americans dispose of about 400 million electronic devices every year, adding a huge volume along with a wide range of toxins to the waste stream. According to Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the NYC Sanitation Department, electronic equipment has become the fastest-growing component of the hazardous waste stream. “By recycling electronics, New Yorkers can help decrease disposal costs and protect the environment,” she said in a statement about the new law.
In addition to the e-cycleNYC pick-up programs, other recycling options for New Yorkers throughout the state include retail drop-off locations at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Best Buy, Staples, or the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse in Brooklyn. The City also has scheduled SAFE (solvents, automotive, flammables and electronics) Disposal Events throughout the five boroughs. For 2015 dates visit bit.ly/SAFEdisposal. Visit bit.ly/stuffexchange for more information about selling or donating electronics that are still working, and bit.ly/NYCecycle for more information about the new electronics recycling regulations.
Whether you believe that New York City’s issuance of building violations is aimed at revenue generation or improving the quality of life, it’s a fact that City inspectors are out in unprecedented numbers with their Rule Books and Violations Notepads at the ready. And the fines continue to increase, keeping building staff, managing agents, and a host of contractors, consultants, architects and engineers busy mitigating your property’s exposure. DEPM’s Compliance Department works continuously with our agents and managers to keep them abreast of the core issues involving violations, mitigation and compliance. Below are key areas where fines can pile up unless systems are in place to ensure that City regulations are being followed:
- Curbside Debris: Sanitation inspectors routinely issue curbside debris violations. Building staff must keep a keen eye out for the tossed wrapper, discarded cigarette or coffee cup to avoid fines from $50 to $500, depending on occurrences accumulated.
- Trash Pick-up Times: Sanitation inspectors will issue fines of up to $500 for trash or recycling being put out too early the night before a trash pick-up. Resident Managers and Superintendents should be wary that too early curbside placement can be costly.
- Recycling: Sanitation inspectors are traveling in DOS-marked ‘patrol cars’ ahead of the regular sanitation trucks randomly opening regular trash bags, rummaging through the garbage in search of recycled plastic and paper products. All it takes is one soda can or magazine in the regular trash to result in an instant ticket. Residents should be encouraged to be diligent in their recycling efforts, as these fines are passed in the form of rising common charges.
- Snow/Ice Removal: Vigilant snow and ice removal is crucial to avoid dangerous conditions and potential liability claims, as well as fines. Also be mindful of sidewalk cracks, lifts and openings, which can also result in a fine from the Department of Transportation or a liability suit.
- Standpipe Sprinklers: Annual inspections and daily record-keeping are required. This can be done by your resident manager/superintendent but they must have a special license issued by the FDNY. While the system may pass inspection (it is wise to pre-test the systems with the building plumber), if the daily logs are not in the proper book, or are incomplete, fines can climb into the thousands of dollars. The FDNY licensing tests have become so arduous that some supers have had to study and take the test multiple times before passing. Failure to have a licensed staff member responsible is also a costly violation.
- Boiler System Inspections: A State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspection and a City inspection are both required for boilers. The City inspection is usually handled by the building’s boiler insurance carrier, or by the boiler company.
- Elevator Inspections: The elevator code division of New York was recently overhauled to bring code up to international standards, as well as abandoning the “Grandfather clause” for old elevators. Elevator companies have increased their charges for these new inspections, and third party inspectors paid by the building are now involved as well. Anything not in compliance with code must be addressed within 90 days. Both compliance costs and fines have skyrocketed, so attention must be paid to these regulations.
- Rooftop Tanks: Every water tank in New York must be cleaned and inspected annually. Water must be sent out to a lab and the certificate of inspection and the lab certificate of water quality must be kept on premises for five years, posted in a public location and available for any City inspector to review. Fines can be thousands of dollars.
- Buildings, Health and Fire Department Inspections: Improper basement storage, blocked hallways, improper lighting or lack of emergency lighting, obstacles in stairwells, throw rugs in fire stairs, lack of proper inspection certificates and proof of compliance are all violations that can result in fines. Even a poor attitude by a super can lead to a lengthy list of items to correct and fines to pay.
- Façade Inspection: Local Law 11/98 (aka Façade Inspection Safety Program, or FISP) requires façade inspection every five years. A new retroactive amendment to this law also requires inspection of railings, terraces, balconies, and fire escapes. New regulations requiring site safety monitors, along with permit fees and rising engineering fees have doubled or even tripled the cost of exterior projects. It’s imperative to work with reputable companies with solid references.