New York City requires property owners to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their properties. This requirement generally comes down to snow removal and sidewalk repair.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has oversight over New York City’s 12,750 miles of sidewalks. DOT inspectors visit properties based on filed complaints and reports of injuries. They inspect the entire block where the incident occurred for sidewalk defects, such as:
- Collapsed sidewalk
- Tree roots
- Trip hazards
DOT issues sidewalk violations as an official notice of sidewalk defects. These notices are not fines; they are notices to correct the defective conditions. However, these violations are filed with the county clerk, where they remain until the city confirms that repairs have been made. Like other violations, open sidewalk violations can also cause issues when selling or refinancing the property.
Building owners have 75 days to repair sidewalks. (For emergency conditions, such as a collapsed or impassable section, the repair period is 10 days.) The repair process includes the following:
- Hire a contractor. The contractor should understand DOT specifications for sidewalk repairs. In addition, he or she should be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Owners can check the DCA database to find a licensed contractor or to verify the license a contractor from another source.
- Secure permits. Before starting work, make sure the contractor has the necessary permits. Owners can call 311 to request a sidewalk construction permit, which currently costs $70 for every 300 linear feet of sidewalk for a single property. This fee includes the administrative cost of the permit, as well as the cost of sending an inspector for dismissal.
- Schedule a dismissal inspection. After the repairs are complete, owners can request a dismissal inspection by calling 311 with the following information: permit number, property address, block and lot number, and violation number.
If the owner does not correct the defect within the time period, DOT contractors may perform the work, and the Department of Finance will bill the property owner for the repair. Owners have 90 days to pay the bill. After 90 days, the city starts charging interest and places a lien against the property.
Learn more about maintaining your property.