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New York’s ‘Indoor Allergen’ Law: What Landlords Need to Know

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Effective January 19, 2019, New York City landlords must perform annual inspections of units for indoor allergen hazards under New York’s indoor allergen law.

New York’s Local Law 55 of 2018 adds new obligations for owners of multiple dwellings (3+ units) when it comes to pests, molds and other allergens.

As of January 19, 2019, owners must perform annual inspections of their units for indoor allergen hazards, such as pests (e.g., rats, cockroaches, mice) and mold. The new law has several other provisions:

  • Annual inspections of each unit and common areas
  • Annual notice and copy of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) pamphlet to current and prospective tenants
  • Integrated Pest Management to address pest infestations
  • Remediate mold, pest, and underlying defects and thoroughly clean carpeting or furniture before a new tenant moves in

Penalties

Especially for buildings where multiple units have indoor allergen hazards, penalties can add up quickly.

Class C (immediately hazardous) violation

  • Any dwelling unit or common area found to have mice, rats, and/or cockroaches
  • Penalties:
    • Buildings with 5 or fewer units, $50 per violation per day
    • Buildings with more than 5 units, $50-$150 per violation, plus $125 per violation per day

Class B (hazardous) violation

  • All other pest infestations
  • Penalties:
    • $25-100 each, plus $10 per violation per day

To proactively avoid allergen issues, the best strategy is Integrated Pest Management.

Integrated Pest Management

To improve tenant satisfaction (and possibly save on insurance premiums), building owners should practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Traditional pest control typically means applying pesticides. IPM goes beyond that by making your building(s) less hospitable to pests:

  • Fixing leaks
  • Patching holes and crevices
  • Controlling/maintaining garbage area
  • Depriving pests of basic necessities (g., food, water, shelter)

If you’re thinking of taking the DIY route, be aware that New York State law specifies that only a licensed professional can apply pesticides in a multi-family building. This means that landlords and property managers have two options:

  1. Become certified as a commercial applicator
  2. Hire a Pest Management Professional (PMP)

The NYC Department of Health offers guidelines for choosing a PMP.

More on Mold

When it comes to preventing mold, the key is controlling moisture. Humidity, condensation and leaks can all increase the chances that mold will appear and spread.

A good starting point for preventing and mediating mold in commercial properties is this information from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Home and building owners in New York City should be aware that mold is often excluded from homeowner and building insurance policies. So the best way to protect that Brooklyn brownstone is to prevent mold in the first place.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have additional questions about improving your property profile or your current insurance policy, please call us at 877-576-5200.

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