The bills provide extended compliance deadlines and information for tenants and property owners. This month, the City Council passed several bills concerning public housing and buildings. The bills touch a variety of issues, from providing NYCHA residents with information about the Mold Ombudsperson, to the Department of Buildings establishing interim certificates of occupancy, and an extension of deadlines for compliance with local laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors and gas system inspections to accommodate the pandemic.
Int. 1911-A requires that the City provide NYCHA tenants with information about the Mold Ombudsperson, the Ombudsperson’s call center, and how to file a complaint about mold. An agency or office designated by the Mayor will distribute pamphlets to NYCHA residents with this information. NYCHA residents will also receive this information via a telephone call. Tenants who are enrolled in electronic billing may received an email with the information instead of a paper copy. Elected officials and community representatives would also receive pamphlets. The designated office would also be required to hold a public briefing about the Mold Ombudsperson at least once a year.
This legislation goes into effect immediately and was sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres. The bill was passed on December 10, 2020.
Int. 2033-A allows the Department of Buildings to issue an interim certificate of occupancy to authorize the occupancy of specific floors of a building before a final certificate of occupancy is issued. This bill was sponsored by Council Member Robert E. Cornegy and was passed on December 10, 2020.
Recipients of the interim certificate of occupancy would submit a statement of compliance to the Department of Buildings. Partial and temporary certificates of occupancy must be posted in the building. The Buildings Commissioner would have the authority to revoke these interim certificates of occupancy that were based on incorrect information or issued in error.
This bill does not apply to residential buildings with fewer than eight stories or four dwelling units, mixed-use buildings with fewer than four dwelling units, non-residential buildings with less than five stories and parking structures.
Int. 2171-A extends the compliance to install carbon monoxide detectors in certain new Group M occupancies and other certain existing commercial buildings. Group M occupancies cover mercantile stores like department stores, drug stores, retail, markets, sales rooms and motor-fuel dispensing facilities. Local Law 191 of 2018 required the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in these commercial spaces, and originally had a compliance deadline of January 1, 2021. Int. 2171-A extends that deadline until July 1, 2021 to provide property owners more time to comply due to the pandemic. This bill passed on December 17, 2020 and was sponsored by Council Member Robert E. Cornegy.
Council Member Cornegy cited previous tragedies due to carbon monoxide poisoning as the motivation for the original law, but stated that, “we need to do a better job preventing death by carbon monoxide poisoning, but we must also make accommodations for building owners during the pandemic. Proposed Int. No. 2171-A, which I sponsored, would find this balance by extending the deadline by which carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed under Local Law 191 from January 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021. The ultimate goal must be public safety, not collecting penalties and not eroding the equity building owners have built by imposing unreasonable gotcha fines.”
Int. 2151-B extends the deadline for buildings within Community Districts 1, 3 and 10 in all boroughs to inspect gas and piping systems and to correct any hazards. The deadline will be extended from December 31, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The deadlines for the remaining Community Districts are staggered throughout December 2023. The deadline was extended to accommodate for delays due to the pandemic.
The bill also requires the Department of Buildings to solicit public comments regarding the implementation of Local Law 152, the original law that created the requirements for the inspections of gas and piping systems. Buildings would also be required to conduct targeted outreach about the law’s requirements and submit a report describing those efforts. This bill was passed on December 17, 2020 and sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm.
Council Member Dromm stated, “Intro 2151-B will give a much-needed reprieve to the tens of thousands of property owners in Queens community districts 1, 3 and 10 who—like all of us—are still reeling from this pandemic. It would be difficult to expect our constituents to bring inspectors into their homes in the middle of a pandemic or face thousands of dollars in fines. The goals of Local Law 152 are laudable; but the initial deadline, set well before anyone could foresee this pandemic, is not practicable at this point. When circumstances change and call for reassessment, we have to respond.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)