In: Property Management
February 2, 2016
Buildings suffer through a lot of wear and tear during move-ins and move-outs. For each move, there are always two sets of people who are coming and going and elevators, common spaces and the building staff are all taxed during this time. In addition, residents are sometimes disturbed as their elevators are either taken out completely or are under limited use while the movers reserve and utilize them during this time period. It’s for this reason that many buildings charge something in order to offset the costs that they are absorbing. These charges can be by way of a deposit, fee or both. Depending on your building, it may be prudent to charge both to protect the asset under your care.
When purchasing a property or refinancing a mortgage, a lending bank will do a Title Search on the property in question. Often, if there are outstanding violations on file for the subject property, the bank will ask the Agent for an Indemnification and Hold Harmless letter stating that the Condominium Association, Cooperative Corporation and/or Managing Agent will indemnify them for all claims and damages as a result of these violations.
Property Managers often get asked by residents: “I’m only painting my apartment – why do I need to get Board or Management approval”? The answers lies with liability and insurance coverage. We’re not so concerned with the muted shades of gray that you intend to roll on the walls as we are with ensuring that the contractor you’re bringing into the building is properly licensed and insured.
In most Bylaws or Proprietary Leases that you’ll encounter, there is a provision that alterations cannot be undertaken without the consent of the Board or the Lessor. In the painting case above, we want to make sure that your painting company has general liability, auto and umbrella coverage. In addition, if they have a staff that will be working on the project, they have to provide proof of Workman’s Comp protection also. Typically, these policies name both the Cooperative / Condominium and the Managing Agent as additionally insured, just in case something should happen while they are on site (that could be damage to the unit in question, common areas, neighboring apartments or to any individual; an employee or not).
In this case, if an apartment is being painted and it is pre-1978, we can assume that this is an apartment that has lead paint on the walls and as such, an EPA Lead Safe Certified contractor will need to provide proof that they have the certification and will need to follow the guidelines set forth in the framework of those procedures.
Not all alterations are limited in scope to painting. Electrical, plumbing and structural work all need approval from the appropriate parties in your building and once these topics are broached, more information (permits, licenses, sealed drawings, architect review and more) will be required before a formal approval is given. The larger in scope, the more detailed the plans will be needed.
At the end of the day, the work that you do in your apartment, so long as it is represented and filed properly, is the business of the resident, but the property manager has the entire building in its sights to ensure that those who are entering to do the work, and the work itself, will not harm either the occupants or the structural integrity of the building as a whole.
If your building still operates with a boiler that runs on oil, or if you have an active storage tank that holds oil, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation requires that your building keep an active permit, which is due for renewal every five years, for each and every active tank. The Bulk Storage Certificate is required for any size tank and depending on the size of your specific tank, there will be varying filing fees.
HPD has just released the 2015 – 2016 MDR’s on their website, allowing building owners and property managers to update before the September deadline to file. If you log onto your online portfolio (link here) you can create a new PDF to print and have signed / dated by the managing agent and the building owner (or officer of the Board).
We have covered the heating requirements in multi-family buildings (link here) in the past, but what do we know about the required hot water temperature within an apartment that is located in the New York City area? That’s pretty easy, so long as you know the law.
WHO DOES THE LAW APPLY TO? Under New York State law, the law applies to all owners of buildings with three (3) or more apartments that are built after April 18, 1929, and before January 1, 1951 that are three (3) stories or more in height AND all owners of buildings with three (3) or more units that are built after January 1, 1951.
Under a more specific New York City hot water law, the law applies to all owners of buildings with three (3) or more units built before April 18, 1929, all owners of buildings with three (3) or more units built after April 18, 1929 and before January 1, 1951 that have fewer than three (3) stories AND all owners of tenant-occupied 1 or 2-family dwellings in NYC.
WHAT DOES THE LAW REQUIRE? The New York State hot water law requires that all residents in a building that falls under the jurisdiction be given hot water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit in every shower, bath and sink, 24-hours per day. Building owners in New York City must provide hot water that is at least 120 Fahrenheit in every shower, bath and sink between 6am – Midnight, every day of the year.
NEW YORK CITY LAW ONLY: Owners that fall within the NYC hot water law must install an anti-scald feature on any valve that controls the water supply to bathtubs and showers when renovating the water supply in the bathroom or when installing a new bathroom. An anti-scald feature will prevent the temperature from reaching above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to prevent burns. If an anti-scald device is used, the minimum temperature that it can have water coming out is 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
WHAT FINES CAN MY BUILDING BE SUBJECT TO FOR NOT PROVIDING HOT WATER? Should your building fail to provide adequate hot water to residents as prescribed by State law, the building owner may be fined $500 and/or imprisoned for up to 30 days, per offense. Owners who violate the City hot water law could be fined between $250 – $500 for a 1st violation and between $500 – $1,000 per day for each violation that occurs during the same year. If renovating a bathroom or installing a new bathroom, the fine for not installing a proper anti-scald device can see a $500 penalty per violation.
Hot water and heat are two of the most important services that a landlord / building owner can provide. While it’s understandable that from time-to-time there will be boiler issues and repairs are warranted, a systematic problem that sees residents out of hot water on a consistent basis is a problem that will need to be resolved.
If you are in a building with a systematic hot water or heat issue, please call 311 (after calling your building management company) to report the building and to have an inspector visit and issue a violation, if needed.
Now that February 2015 has come and gone, New York City and the buildings within its boroughs are now in Cycle 8 for the Facade Inspection Safety Program, also known as Local Law 11. For buildings that are over six stories in height, a licensed architect or engineer is required to inspect the exterior walls, fire escapes, railings and anything that is attached to the building, to ensure that there are no unsafe conditions.
Each cycle for the Local Law 11 is five years long. Cycle 8 began in February of 2015 and will last until February of 2019. In order to spread out the filings throughout the city and to alleviate the stress within the city’s administrative staff, the filing period is broken down into three staggered filing periods. The way to tell the specific two-year period when your building is supposed to file will be based off of the last number in your “Block #”. Each staggered “sub-cycle” is comprised of the following block numbers and their respective filing dates:
Filing Window (Sub-Cycle) A: Last Digit of Block # 4, 5, 6 or 9 – February 21, 2015 – February 21, 2017
Filing Window (Sub-Cycle) B: Last Digit of Block # 0, 7 or 8 – February 21, 2016 – February 21, 2018
Filing Window (Sub-Cycle) C: Last Digit of Block # 1, 2 or 3 – February 21, 2017 – February 21, 2019
If your building is required to file a Local Law 11 report, you can talk to your engineer or architect of choice to begin the process of inspecting the exterior facade to ensure that all areas are “safe”. If there any “unsafe” conditions, it would behoove the building owner / management to act on it as quickly as possible to minimize any dangerous or hazardous conditions.
If you would like a recommendation of an architect or engineer to use, we would be happy to refer you to a qualified professional who can lead your building in the right direction. You can e-mail Mark Levine (by clicking here) for more information.
In January 2014, NYC enacted a new rule for those properties that had a retaining wall that is greater than 10-feet high and located on a public right of way. Local Law 37 of 2008 now dictates that all of those properties that fall into that category have their retaining walls inspected every five (5) years to determine if they are Safe, Safe with a Repair and Maintenance or Unsafe.
If you’re familiar with Local Law 11 for the facade, then you’ll be familiar with this as well. Depending on where your building is located, you will need to file in the year that is attributed to your borough.
2016: Staten Island
The DOB provides civil penalties of $1,000 per year for failure to file, plus $250 per month penalty until the property owner is in compliance. Failure to repair an unsafe condition carries a $1,000 per month fine until corrected.
We would recommend that all properties that are now required to inspect and file their properties talk to a local engineer that is qualified to perform the inspection and file on your behalf.
Update on 1/15/15: On January 14, 2015, President Obama signed the bill that reauthorized TRIA for another six years, with a new expiration date of December 31, 2020. Although it was renewed, there are some revisions to the TRIA renewal program. These revisions include higher deductibles to insurers.
On December 26, 2007, the President signed into law the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-160, 121 Stat. 1839) [TRIPRA]. This signing extended the existing Program through December 31, 2014, a date that is fast approaching.