Automating Compliance & Inspections for Multifamily Buildings in NYC
The most capable management companies utilize automation technologies that help relieve their property managers and the board members they serve of administrative duties related to the compliance process. For boards and building owners, this typically translates to fewer fines and a sense of trust in the managing agent.
Updated Inspection Requirements for New York City BuildingsOver the past several years, building inspections have become increasingly more complex, often requiring expertise that falls outside the purview of a property manager. At FirstService Residential, our property managers have the support of an in-house network of subject matter experts. This includes a dedicated compliance department that is well-versed in New York City local laws and regulations that impact our buildings. Our property managers work hand-in-hand with the compliance team to stay abreast of new legislation, addendums, critical deadlines and actions required to meet compliance. With the support of our compliance department, our layered, team-based approach allows our property managers to devote more of their attention to managing the day-to-day operations of your property, and less time focused on administrative tasks.
Recently updated local laws and inspection requirements include:
Local Law 55:The Indoor Allergen Hazards Law requires annual inspections of individual units and common areas for indoor allergen hazards that can cause asthma or make asthma symptoms worse. Specific hazards include the presence of rodents, cockroaches and other common pests, cracks that allow pests to enter the apartment unit, as well as mold, mildew or the presence of leaks that can lead to hazardous conditions. The law requires boards and building owners to take necessary steps that remedy any of these conditions, if present.
As part of SiteCompli's Real Focus 2020 virtual conference, Stephanie Cardello, vice president of compliance, shared how FirstService Residential uses smart automation technology to stay on top of Local Law 55-mandated building inspections and how to replicate success.
Local Law 111Established in 2018, Local Law 111 requires all multifamily residential buildings to install self-closing mechanisms on doors that provide access to individual apartment units, interior corridors and stairways by July 31, 2021.
Self-closing doors are proven to mitigate the spread of fire from one apartment to the entire building. While most doors will already have a device in place that requires an adjustment by building staff, other doors may need a new device installed. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation (HPD) now considers non-compliant self-closing door conditions to be a Class C ‘immediately hazardous violation’ and could result in an emergency repair by the department at the board’s or building owner’s expense.
Local Law 113Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are an important part of fire preparedness and safety in residential buildings. New York City landlords are responsible for installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in each apartment. This specific amendment requires a smoke detector to be installed 10 to 20 feet from the unit’s fixed cooking appliance. Boards and building owners are also required to provide and install at least one operational carbon monoxide and smoke detector, replace all deficient and missing detectors, ensure that the installed detectors are equipped with end-of-life alarms, and provide records relating to the installation and maintenance of the detectors upon request from the HPD.
Local Law 152Local Law 152 was originally enacted in 2016 and is one component of a 10-piece legislative package designed to prevent dangerous gas leaks and pipeline explosions in New York City. This specific law requires the periodic inspection of gas piping systems of all buildings at least once every four years. For multifamily properties, this includes exposed gas piping outside and inside the building, in boiler rooms, in all amenity and common spaces, rooftop mechanical spaces, and publicly-accessible areas. Owners of mixed-use residential properties with subcomponent spaces (i.e., retail, offices, community facilities, etc.) will also need to complete piping inspections in these areas of the building.
Initially, Local Law 152 filing deadlines were scheduled and organized by borough. In 2019, the filing deadlines were modified according to individual Community Districts in all boroughs. As of December 2020, current deadlines are as follows:
InCheck by SiteCompli: How Automation Software Improves Local Law Compliance and EfficiencyFirstService Residential continually invests in robust automation software to help boards and building owners under our care satisfy all compliance deadlines and inspection cycles. This includes InCheck by SiteCompli, a platform that tracks the status of building inspections, permit expiry, violations and complaints. The platform is paperless, virtual and provides a timestamp of when each inspection was completed and the resulting outcome. The InCheck platform can also generate building-wide reports to track overall compliance and generate required logs for HPD, FDNY and the Department of Buildings.
To further drive efficiency, our property managers coordinate combined building inspections instead of multiple inspections for the presence of lead paint, required fire safety decals, self-closing doors, the installation of window guards, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, among a litany of other conditions. Consolidating multiple apartment inspections into fewer in-unit visits simplifies the inspection process for building staff and is more convenient for residents who may become frustrated with numerous requests to enter their apartment.
To make sure nothing is missed, building staff can also use InCheck as a digital checklist for pending items. However, InCheck cannot be used to track Local Law 152 which requires the inspection to be completed by a New York City-Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) or a qualified individual working under the direct supervision of an LMP.
Built-in Support: Empowering Property Managers to Lead Our BoardsFirstService Residential has raised the bar for quality and service excellence and we never stop seeking ways to make our services even better. Because of our collective expertise and capabilities, we’re able to leverage best practices and standardize operations so that we’re functioning optimally and efficiently. Smaller management companies struggle with handling the diversity of issues that emerge day in and day out, whereas we’ve seen most all of them already or we’re in the midst of addressing them head on.
If your board is considering a management transition, consider asking these three questions to help guide your decision.