Rate Your Building’s Energy Efficiency

Beginning in May, the City’s “Benchmarking” regulations will be expanded to include all
buildings over 25,000 square feet (under the earlier version of the law, buildings of less than 50,000 were not required to benchmark). As part of Local Law 133 of 2016, which expanded LL 84, owners must report water and energy consumption annually through the City’s online portal (https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/facility-owners-and-managers/existing-buildings/use-portfolio-manager). Failure to report can carry fines of up to $2000 per year. The City will use this information to create metrics to track and compare the energy efficiency of similar buildings, and ultimately will release a rating for each property, which will be available to the public.

A better rating will have a positive impact on property values, giving owners an incentive to take action to cut back on water and energy consumption, as part of the City’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% between 2005 and 2050. We at DEPM care deeply about energy conservation and have instituted many improvements in our client buildings, including converting boilers from oil to gas, replacing incandescent lights with energy saving LED lights, installing new windows and more. Our managers are working with all their properties to implement conservation initiatives in the coming year. For more information on the City’s Benchmarking program, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/business/benchmarking.page

Screen shot 2018-02-19 at 1.18.54 PM

New York City’s Benchmarking program is part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Mayor Passes New Smoking Policy Rule

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.

bearded man sitting by the window and smoke cigarettes

All multi-family buildings in NYC are required to distribute a smoking policy to all residents by next August.

Co-op/Condo Tax Abatement Deadline Approaching Fast

DEPM has submitted to the NYC Dept. of Finance information on all new unit purchases that occurred in 2016 through January 5, 2017 for our co-ops and qualifying (ie: non-421a) condos. Now is the opportunity for any unit owner whose resident status has changed to primary and currently meets the requirements for the tax abatement program to update their status.
If you feel that your unit should have received the abatement in 2016 but did not, please contact your Account Executive in writing, phone or email as soon as possible and we can submit the corrected information on your behalf. The deadline for making changes to your apartment status for the 2016/17 benefits is February 15, 2017 and for 2017/18 benefits the deadline is March 31, 2017. Please visit the City’s website at nyc.gov/ccabatements for more comprehensive details on this program.
In addition, there have been some changes in the STAR abatement program. New applicants who qualify for Basic or Enhanced STAR should now register with New York State instead of applying with the NYC Dept. of Finance and will receive their STAR credit in the form of a check rather than a property tax abatement.The STAR hotline number is 518-457-2036. Or visit the City’s STAR info page at on.nyc.gov/2k9MmJZ

Vigilance is Needed to Avoid Fines and Violations

By Thomas Usztoke, Vice President of ManagementTomUsztoke

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.