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A Guide to Landlord Responsibilities in New York City

landlord responsibilities in New York City
Many landlord responsibilities in New York City are standard building practice and common sense, but the city has some very specific requirements.

Owners of residential apartment buildings in New York City have certain landlord responsibilities for maintenance and safety. Many of these landlord responsibilities are outlined in multiple codes and laws, including the New York City Housing Maintenance Code (HMC) and New York State Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL). The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) enforces both the HMC and the MDL.

Landlord Responsibilities: Maintenance

The HPD website summarizes these residential maintenance requirements, many of which are also addressed in the HPD publication The ABC’s of Housing:

  • Housing Information Guide Notice. Owners of multiple-dwelling buildings (3+ units) must post a notice that publicizes the availability of the above-mentioned housing information guide for tenants and owners, The ABC’s of Housing. The notice must be placed in a conspicuous location within view of the mail collection area.
  • Heat and hot water. Building owners are required by law to provide heat and hot water to tenants. Hot water must be provided year-round at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat must be provided during “Heat Season,” which falls between October 1 and May 31, under the following conditions:
    • Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., if the external temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature must be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., if the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature must be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mold. Building owners are required to maintain their buildings and to fix leaks promptly to avoid mold growth and proliferation. If tenants report mold, maintenance workers should find and repair the moisture problem and remove the mold with soap and water. Large areas of mold may require professional cleaning.
  • Pests. Property owners are required to provide an environment free from such pests as roaches, mice and bedbugs. General prevention measures include building repairs to seal holes and leaks, extermination services and proper garbage storage. New York City recommends working with pest control services that practice integrated pest management (IPM). This approach relies less on pesticides and emphasizes preventive strategies to make buildings less hospitable to pests by depriving them of food, water and shelter. (As a bonus, IPM improves overall building conditions and helps property owners qualify for the best possible rates.)

Landlord Responsibilities: Safety

Several of these maintenance requirements focus on public safety:

  • Lead paint. The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act requires landlords to identify and remediate lead-based paint hazards in apartments occupied by young children. For buildings built before 1960 (or between 1960 and 1978 if owners know that lead-based paint is present), owners are required to investigate and remove lead-based paint hazards upon turnover of an apartment, using safe work practices and trained workers. In addition, owners and landlords must do the following on an annual basis:
    • Inspect units occupied by a child under age six, as well as common areas, for peeling paint, chewable surfaces, deteriorated subsurfaces, and friction and impact surfaces
    • Send an annual lead notice between January 1st and 15th
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Landlords are required to provide and install smoke detectors and at least one approved carbon monoxide detector in each unit, as well as written information for testing and maintaining the detectors. Detectors must have an audible alarm signaling the end of their useful life. These devices must also be installed within 15 feet of the primary entrance to each bedroom. Tenants are responsible for maintaining both devices.
  • Window guards. For buildings with three or more apartments, New York City requires the installation of approved window guards on all windows, including first-floor bathrooms and windows leading to a terrace or balcony, in common areas and in units occupied by a child 10 years of age or younger. Also, tenants or occupants may request window guards in writing for any reason, such as visiting grandchildren. Owners of multiple dwellings must send an annual notice to tenants to determine the need for window guards, which can be combined with the annual lead notice.
  • Outlet covers. Electrical outlets in the public areas of residential buildings with three or more units are required to have outlet covers, caps or other safety devices over the openings. Tamper-resistant outlets do not require such covers. Also, electrical outlets in areas used exclusively for mechanical equipment or storage are also exempt from this requirement.

Required Signs & Notices

In addition, New York City requires landlords to post the following signs and notices:

  • Certificate of inspection visits. Owners need to provide a frame that accommodates a 6″ x 9″ inspection visit card, issued by the HPD inspector. This notice should be displayed between 48″ and 62″ above floor height, located at or near the mailbox (if present).
  • Garbage collection notice. Display a tamper-proof sign with the hours and method of garbage collection in the lobby, unless the building has a 24-hour dumbwaiter service.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Property owners need to post HPD-approved notices with smoke detector and carbon monoxide monitor requirements. Smoke detector notices should be posted at or near mailboxes, while carbon monoxide notices can be posted in a common area.
  • Notice of service interruption. The owner of a multiple dwelling must post a notice prior to making repairs or performing other work that is expected to interrupt heat, water, gas or electricity service for two or more hours. The notice, which must be posted in English and in Spanish, must be posted in a public location at least 24 hours before the anticipated interruption of service. In addition, the notice may remain posted until the service interruption ends.

These summaries are provided as a courtesy. For additional information, visit the HPD website or consult The ABC’s of Housing. You may also be interested on our Guide to Landlord Property Maintenance.

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