According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, and its prevalence has been increasing since the 1980s.
The New York State (NYS) Department of Health reports more than 1.1 million New Yorkers with this chronic respiratory disease.
To combat indoor asthma allergen hazards in residential dwellings, New York City amended its administrative code with Local Law 55 (LL55), the Asthma-Free Housing Act, in 2018. It’s critical multi-family building owners/managers understand this regulation to adequately protect tenants and avoid fines.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Local Law 55?
LL55 went into effect in January 2019. The ordinance requires multi-dwelling property owners/managers to inspect and remediate indoor health hazards such as mold, rodents, and cockroaches that may trigger asthma or other allergies.
- The law applies to buildings with three or more units or any building where a tenant has asthma.
- Owners/managers must inspect their buildings once a year for mold, pests, or any condition or defect that could lead to mold or pests down the line.
- At a minimum, inspections should include: visual inspection for mold and pests; photos of all areas within units and in common areas; a checklist of inspected areas and conditions present; report of findings.
- Additional inspections must be conducted whenever a tenant complains about a condition that may be an indoor allergen hazard, requests an inspection or Department of Buildings (DOB) issues a violation notice.
- Before a new tenant moves in, all carpets and furniture must be thoroughly cleaned.
- Owners/managers must remediate any allergen hazards within a reasonable amount of time, or they will receive a DOB violation and fines.
- Tenants must be informed of their rights and responsibilities, and those of the owner/manager. Information on LL55 must be included in their lease agreement.
- Owners/managers must notify their tenants annually of their rights and responsibilities.
- Documentation of all inspections and subsequent remediations must be kept on file
What should inspections cover? What happens if an inspection identifies allergen risks?
All inspections must cover both the common areas and units. They must check areas that would commonly host or serve as entryways for pests, or breeding grounds for mold, such as bathrooms, heating and cooling appliances, ventilation systems, and more.
LL55 includes the following pests on their list of possible asthma triggers, so if any are discovered during an inspection, they must, by law, be eradicated.
These include, according to the law:
“…houseflies, lice, bees, cockroaches, moths, silverfish, beetles, bedbugs, ants, termites, hornets, mosquitoes and wasps, and such members of the phylum Arthropoda as spiders, mites, ticks, centipedes and woodlice. […] Mice, Norway rats [also known as common rats], and any other unwanted plant, animal or fungal life that is a pest because it is destructive, annoying or a nuisance.”
If an inspection turns up signs of an infestation or mold, or even conditions that could lead to allergen hazards down the line—such as leaks or openings—owners/managers must remediate these immediately. This means that even if there isn’t visible mold, but a leaking pipe, it must be fixed to avoid problems down the line.
If an inspection uncovers signs of pests or mold, owners/managers are required to use integrated pest management practices and safe mold removal practices. These practices keep your tenants safe and have a higher chance of permanently eradicating allergen hazards.
Mold hazards must be assessed by a New York State licensed Mold Assessor and remediated by a separate Mold Remediator.
Once the hazard has been eradicated, owners/managers must apply for a certification of correction.
What penalties do owners/managers face if signs of allergen hazards are detected?
Violations for hazardous and non-hazardous conditions vary, depending upon several factors, including the infestation’s severity.
Both class C and B infringements pertain to hazardous circumstances.
Class C violations are levied for any unit or common area with mice, rats, and/or cockroaches or “visible mold in an amount measuring in total between ten square feet and thirty square feet in a room within a dwelling unit,” stipulates the statute.
- Buildings with five or fewer units: $50 per violation, per day
- Buildings with more than five units: $50-150 per violation, plus $125 per violation, per day
Class B violations are incurred for all other pest infestations.
- All buildings: $25-100 per violation, plus $10 per violation, per day
Class A violations are reserved for non-hazardous conditions, including any visible mold amounting to less than 10 square feet in a room.
What are your tenants’ rights and responsibilities?
All tenant leases must include information about their duties and responsibilities, as well as yours.
Tenants can initiate more inspections than once annually by calling 311 or requesting a doctor referral if diagnosed with moderate to severe asthma.
Do you have questions or concerns about LL55 or other regulations? If so, contact us today to talk with our Compliance Specialist.