Council Passes Bill Requiring Proactive Inspection Program for Buildings

Image credit: New York City Council.

On June 20, 2024, the New York City Council passed Int. 904 A. This legislation requires the Department of Buildings (DOB) to establish a proactive inspection program aimed at identifying hazardous building conditions. This bill was created in response to last winter’s collapse of a residential building which left many families displaced at 1915 Billingsley Terrace in the Bronx, and the fatal April 2023 collapse of a parking garage at 57 Ann Street in Lower Manhattan. The bill was sponsored by Council Member Pierina Sanchez, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

First, the program requires the Department of Buildings to assess each building’s risk of structural failure by calculating a building’s likelihood of structural collapse (risk score).  The risk score is calculated by weighing the following factors: (1) building information and characteristics (including but not limited to building age, occupancy type, ownership type, and construction material); (2) permit history; (3) violation history; (4) applicable compliance filings; (5) disciplinary history of registered design professionals, contractors, or licensees; (6) relevant 311 complaints; (7) neighboring site characteristics and construction activity; and (8) any other factors determined by the commissioner. Next, the Department of Buildings will proactively inspect buildings with a high-risk score to assess the building’s condition.

The bill requires the agency to develop rules for when a corrective action plan is necessary following the inspections. The corrective action plan would need to be prepared by a registered design professional and document each violation by including photos, construction documents, and a timeline of the repairs.

Once the plan is submitted the Department of Buildings will conduct follow-up inspections to confirm the corrective measures outlined in the corrective action plan were completed.

This local law takes effect 180 days after it becomes law.

Speaker Adrienne Adams stated, “Proactively identifying residential buildings that could have potentially dangerous structural issues is critical to keeping New Yorkers safe. Recent building collapses have raised concerns about our city’s aging infrastructure and the current complaint-driven inspection process. With the passage of this legislation, the Council is advancing thoughtful solutions to prevent tragedies before they occur and make residents safer in their homes.”

Council Member Sanchez stated, “New Yorkers deserve to both be and feel safe in their homes, yet the December 2023, 1915, Billingsley Terrace collapse raised concerns about the effectiveness of the City’s practices. Over 170 people were displaced at this culminating event, which followed years of neglect and hundreds of violations at this property. The Billingsley Terrace Structural Integrity Bill was born of the question, “what more should DOB and agencies have done to prevent this tragedy?” Int. 904 is a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and integrity of our city’s buildings, protecting both residents and neighboring properties. By leveraging predictive analytics, the City will identify and act on issues before they become major problems, ensuring a safer New York for everyone. The Billingsley Terrace Structural Integrity Bill is the first in a series of changes geared to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to safe and dignified housing.”

By: Chelsea Ramjeawan (Chelsea is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2025.)



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