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.

 

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.