Get Your Smoking Policy in Place By the August 28 Deadline

The deadline for compliance with NYC’s new “Smoking Policy Law” is August 28. As part of Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to curb smoking and tobacco use, Local Law 147 requires that all multi-unit residential properties must create and distribute a smoking policy. Designated smoking areas must not be in conflict with existing City regulations, which prohibit smoking in enclosed areas of public places. That includes the common areas of your building, from the lobby to the hallways, stairwells and elevators. Your policy can designate an outdoor smoking area, such as a rooftop, as long as the City allows it. According to the City, disclosing a building’s smoking policy will help tenants and purchasers make an informed decision about whether or not they want to live in a building.

When creating a smoking policy, the building needs to address where smoking is prohibited as well as where it is allowed. In order to ban smoking entirely, or prohibit smoking inside apartments, a vote by a supermajority of unit owners or shareholders is required and the bylaws or proprietary lease must be amended.

A copy of the policy must be distributed to all building residents and unit owners or posted in a place visible to all who live in the building. Failure to create and distribute the smoking policy by the August 28 deadline can lead to building penalties. Our managers have sample policies that boards can review, which can be modified to meet your building’s needs. Keeping the policy simple and straightforward, while addressing issues such as where smoking is allowed, rules for disposing of butts, and house rules about odors, will help minimize any confusion or pushback from residents.

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New City regulations require all multi-family dwellings to create, distribute and implement a building-wide smoking policy. The deadline is August 28 to avoid potential fines or penalties.

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

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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.

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

New Law Requires Bed Bug Reporting

NYC’s new Local law 69/2017, effective on November 6, requires multiple dwelling
property owners to obtain the bedbug infestation history from all tenants and unit
owners, including whether eradication measures were employed for a bedbug
infestation. Starting in December 2018, owners will be required to report information
for each unit to HPD for the previous year (from November 2017 through November
2018). Such reporting will be required every December for the previous year. Your property manager will be working to ensure that your building is in compliance by next year’s deadline.
For more information, visit: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/owners/Pests-owners.page

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NYC Violations Amnesty Program Ends 12/12/16: Act Now to Reduce Penalties, Remove Interest

Nearly every building in New York City has been cited at one time or another for a violation of City Code, whether it be overdue inspection reports, failure to paint pipes the required colors, or more serious issues. At Douglas Elliman Property Management, our managers constantly monitor any violations, making sure that they are corrected, and filing with the City to ensure that the correction is registered, and the violation removed.

The new Local Law 45 established a 90-day program to settle outstanding violation judgments, allowing buildings to receive reductions of up to 75% on any penalties and removal of all interest due.

DEPM has retained the law firm of Cohen Hochman & Allen to review any outstanding violations on all of our client buildings, and determine the reduced violations due. This service is at zero cost to our clients; CH&A receives ten percent of the reduction as their fee. CH&A is working with SiteCompli to ensure that all of our client properties are analyzed to receive the maximum reduction in violation fees.

The Amnesty period runs through December 12, 2016, which means that all requests for reduced penalties and interest must be submitted by that date. Properties then have six months to certify that the violation has been corrected. If you have any questions about the Amnesty program, please contact your property manager, call us at 212-370-9200 or visit the NYC Department of Finance web page at bit.ly/LL45Amnesty.

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By filing with the City before the December 12 deadline, your property could save up to 75% on violations fines and interest payments.

Don’t Risk Fines: Follow Rules Regarding Short -Term Renters

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.

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Short-term renting is a tempting form of income for apartment owners. But it is also illegal. Board should put rules and fines in place.

Continuing Education Keeps Managers Current

Given the constantly changing Local Laws and regulations in New York City, and the stream of new technology hitting the market, property managers must keep abreast of trends in their field. We understand exactly what our clients need to remain in compliance and up to date. And we make sure that all of our property managers and their support staff stay current on these issues by holding bi-monthly In-House Training Seminars.

It is this kind of attention to detail that separates the people at DEPM from other managers—they are constantly being educated right in our office so that they can remain at the top of their game, and protect the properties they manage.

At prior seminars, we have brought in experts to discuss the oil-to-gas and “dirty” fuel to “clean” fuel conversion process, best practices for cost-effective façade maintenance, updates on our new accounting and streamlined bill-approval systems, and how we can help our clients save hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel costs.

During our in-house seminars, managers are given the opportunity to question engineers, architects, expediters, accountants and other professionals brought in to teach, helping them understand the many requirements and options that affect their specific properties. In turn, they can pass along this hands-on knowledge to help boards make informed decisions, stay on budget, save money whenever possible, and avoid fines and violations.

At DEPM, we take great pride in ensuring that our entire staff—both in the office and on premises—has the expertise and education needed to run your building as effectively and efficiently as possible, to enhance both the quality of life and the value of your property. This is one of the reasons why more properties than ever are trusting DEPM with their management services.

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DEPM President Jim O’Connor MC’s our Managers Seminar Series, ongoing in-house education for our managers.