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What NYC Building Owners Need to Know About Window Guards

For properties with three or more units, New York City law requires that building owners install and maintain window guards for apartments where a child age 10 years or younger lives. Every window in the apartment, except those leading to fire escapes, must have window guards. These metal or aluminum devices are designed to prevent children from falling out of windows. They are different from burglar bars.

Window Guards Required in New York City
New York City landlords are required to install window guards in apartments where children age 10 years and younger live.

Window guards and legal requirements

The law has several requirements:

Window Guard Notices

When tenants sign a lease, the landlord must provide a window guard notice form within the first 30 days of occupancy. In addition, building owners must send an annual notice regarding window guards between January 1 and January 16. Tenants are required to complete and return the form to notify the landlord if a child age 10 years or younger lives in the apartment. These forms can also be used to request the guards for any other reason, such as to protect visiting children or for personal safety concerns.

Installation Requirements

Where required or requested, landlords must install window guards on every window in the apartment, even on the first floor, with the exception of windows leading to fire escapes. Window guards must be left off one window in each ground-floor apartment to allow use of the window as an emergency exit. In addition, all public hallway windows must have window guards for buildings with children age 10 years or younger.

Window Guard Compliance

These metal guards must meet the requirements of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which has approved many types of these devices. Approved window guards are a minimum of 15 inches tall, with horizontal bars spaced 4.5 inches apart. The New York City Department of Health maintains a list of approved devices online. Guards and any other limiting devices should be appropriate to the window type (e.g., double hung, casement, sliding, etc.).

Window Guard Costs

Apartment building owners and landlords are responsible for installation and maintenance of these protective devices. Owners can charge a one-time fee per window guard for apartment units, but they cannot charge tenants for window guards that were previously installed. (Window guard charges cannot exceed $10 per window guard for units that are either rent-stabilized or rent-controlled.) In addition, window guard charges cannot be included in the base rent.

For co-operative buildings, the responsibility for window guards remains with management. For owners in condominium buildings, individual unit owners should check with building management to find out who is responsible for installing and maintaining the guards. (Some condo managers do install them, but they’re still the owner’s responsibility.) Even in condo buildings, management is still responsible for guards in the hallway.

Building Owner / Landlord ResourcesFor more information about window guard requirements in New York City, visit the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. For questions about insurance, call us at 877-576-5200 or send us an email.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. We are moving into a 2 family home and will be occupying the 2nd floor apt. We have an 8 yr old and I read on another site that landlords are only responsible for installing window guards for dwellings of minimum 3 apts…not for 2 apts. Please give clarity. Thanks.

  2. Whose responsibility is to pay for the window guards in NYC condo- menagment/owners or tenants? I got them installed by the owner in the apartmant that i’m renting but then I received a bill so I’m confused.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. In a condominium, the condo owner is responsible for installing and repairing window guards. Since you’re a tenant, the financial responsibility in this case sounds like a private matter between you and the condo owner (but we’re neither attorneys nor affiliated with the City of New York). Best of luck to you.

  3. Good info, however when it comes to coops it’s managements responsibility. We are having new windows installed in my coop and the old window guards can’t be used. Does the money to pay for the new guards come out of the the buildings reserve fund? Or do shareholders that only have children under the age of 10 have to pay for their own guards?

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. According to this article, which includes advice from a legal expert (our specialty is insurance), the answer depends on the rules of your building. You are correct that the corporation is responsible for installation and maintenance. However, the board may be able to pass the costs on to shareholders. Good luck with the window updates.

  4. Does anyone know what the retention requirement are for window guard notices in NYC. We have several buildings and need to know how far back we need to keep these in our files and also, if tenant is no longer living in our building, do we need to keep theirs as well

    1. Hi there. Thanks for reading. You should consult an attorney for an official answer to your question. For IRS purposes, experts recommend keeping tax returns and supporting financial documents for at least seven years. New York City has a six-year statute of limitations for Breach of Contract. Even though the tenant has moved out, you would want to keep those signed notices in your records for a certain period of time, in case you ever needed to produce proof of compliance. Again, a New York real estate attorney would be your best resource. (A copier/scanner could also help relieve the burden of storing physical files, although you’ll want to take security measures to protect those documents.)

  5. Can you recommend temporary window guards for double hung windows? Our tenants are having a baby in a few months but don’t intend to stay for more than a couple of months. We want to be in compliance, but given their short tenure and the fact that an elder relative who does not want window guards will be moving in after they leave, we want to find a happy medium between their short-term needs and longer term aesthetics. Our window frames are stone, so drilling into the masonry would be costly to repair. We’ll do it if we have to but was hoping someone might have an alternative suggestion.

    1. Hi, Jessica. Thanks for reading. Your best bet is to contact a company that specializes in window guards. Your building sounds lovely. A reputable firm should be able to walk you through the best options for your situation. Good luck!

      1. Thank you, Mistina. Do you know of any such companies? I will do some research but figured it was worth asking. Thanks again for the prompt response. This is a great forum!

  6. What about if a rental from a condo apartment who has two children about two years old , he refused to have the window guards install.How is that work?

  7. Who is responsible for cost of installing window guards in a coop? The coop is charging for this service 3 years after installing in our unit. Is this fair?

    1. Hi, and thank you for reading and commenting. In a co-op, management is responsible for installation and maintenance of window guards, similar to a rental building. However, you should check the building’s by-laws, which may allow the board to pass on costs.

  8. Hi, I see that the city has a list of approved wondering guards. Is that a non-exclusive list? We need to install guards in our apartment, since we have two small children. But we’d like something beautiful, instead of the dreary and utilitarian guards one sees all over the city. Is that ok?

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reading, Dan. Window guards must have the official approval of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, so the list on the DOH website should be comprehensive (although I have no idea how frequently that document is updated). Your best bet would be to consult with an experienced installer who is familiar with the available options. Good luck with your search.

  9. I have a bathroom window that is 16 inches wide and 4.5 inches tall. The window is 5 feet from the floor. Is there guidance about window size and location from the floor that require a guard. My super doesn’t have a guard small enough to fit the window and ACS did a home visit and requested it.

    1. Hi, Melia. Thanks for reading and commenting. Your best bet will be to contact a licensed window guard installer to see what options are available. Good luck!

  10. Who is responsible for the cost in an apartment building? We live in an apartment building who is bathing us $50 per window guard.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. You should contact The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal at 718-739-6400 for information regarding the charge of window guards. Best of luck to you.

  11. Hello, My landlord refuses to remove the guards in our unit even though we have no children living in our unit. Can we remove ourselves?

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