In the city of New York, public safety is a top priority. With over a million buildings in the city, it is absolutely necessary that all the structures comply with the safety regulations stipulated by the Department of Buildings (DOB).
Buildings that fail to adhere to the laws of the DOB are usually issued with a violation notice. Nevertheless, not all violations are the same. While some can be resolved by a small state-imposed fine, more serious violations may lead to the prosecution of building owners. If you intend to lease your building or continue construction, you need to ensure that your building does not have any recorded violations. Buildings which have pending or unresolved violations are usually tagged with the violation issue, thus making it difficult to sell to potential buyers.
So What Happens when a Non-Compliance Complaint is Filed?
Building violations are usually filed by tenants living in the building or neighbors. Once the DOB receives a violation report, the department commissioner issues a violation report, and an order to the owner of the building to resolve the violation. One copy of the violation issue is entered into the Buildings Information System of the DOB where it will stay until the building owner makes the necessary changes.
While not all violations attract a monetary fine, owners who fail to resolve their violations can suffer financial loss in case they are prosecuted due to accidents and injuries. Some tenants may even decide to vacate the building if the issue is not solved. A violation also prevents the building owner from selling or proceeding with construction.
Common Building Violations
A violation can be issued against a building owner for a number of reasons. These include:
- Failure to Provide Ample Heat or Hot Water
Buildings in New York are required to maintain the inside temperature at 68 degrees when the outside temperature is below 55 degrees during the day and 55 degrees when the outside temperature is below 40 degrees at night. In addition to this, building owners must provide hot water with a minimum temperature of 120 degrees at all times. Failure to do so may lead to a violation issue.
- Absence of Carbon Monoxide Detectors
DOB laws stipulate that all buildings must have at least one carbon monoxide and one smoke detector in each long-term tenant’s house or commercial space. The detectors must have a beep feature in order to alert the tenants when they run out of battery.
- Door and Window Locks which Require a Key to Unlock
Buildings are required to have emergency doors and windows that don’t require keys to open. This is to provide a safe exit for tenants in case of emergencies such as fire accidents.
- Pests and Vermin
Building safety regulations require a building owner to ensure that the premise is free from pests and vermin. Although tenants should keep their houses well maintained to prevent pest infestations, the building owner is ultimately responsible for the overall management of the property. Therefore, in the event of an infestation by pests such as bed bugs, cockroaches and rats, building owners must take immediate action to eliminate the pests.
How to Resolve a Building Violation
Building owners are usually given a certain amount of time to resolve a violation depending on the severity of the situation. The timelines for violation resolutions according to DOB laws are as follows:
- 90 days for Non-hazardous violations (Class A)
- 30 days for Hazardous violations (Class B)
- 21 days for window guards and lead-based paint (Class C)
- Immediate repairs for heat and hot water (Class C)
- Everything else should be resolved in 24 hours
The violation notice issued to a building owner must contain a ‘cure by’ or hearing date. If the owner makes the necessary repairs, the hearing date is cancelled, and a new Certificate of Occupancy is granted.
If you wish to report a violation in your building, you can do so by calling New York City’s non-emergency hotline service. You can also contact us for more information on building and construction regulations in the city of New York. Our experts will be happy to help you find solutions to your pertinent questions on building violations.