In January 2018, the New York City Council passed Local Law 55 because of rising asthma cases triggered by indoor allergens. Buildings and homes should be free of mold and pests. What does this law mean and how does it impact your property?
Local Law 55, the indoor allergen hazards law
Local Law 55 of 2018, titled Indoor Allergen Hazards Law was passed to improve indoor air quality and promotes health and mental hygiene. It requires property owners to ensure the following:
Keep their tenants’ homes safe from asthma triggers, particularly mold, rodents, and, other pest infestations
Fix conditions that cause these problems, such as tracing and solving sources of mold growth and other indoor allergen hazards
Provide tenants with long-term solutions for healthy, safe, and satisfying dwelling conditions.
This law promotes mold safety and integrated pest management and is actively enforced by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Buildings (DOB). Penalties including fees and costly remediation of property are imposed on violators.
Responsibilities of property owners under Local Law 55
There are two categories of owners mandated to follow Local Law 55:
All owners of three or more apartment buildings.
All owners of housing units with a tenant suffering from asthma. [This law also applies to co-ops, condos, shelters, and public housing].
The following are the responsibilities of a property owner:
Owners must use integrated pest management practices (IPM), such as:
Using a HEPA vacuum to remove and thoroughly clean pest nests, pest wastes, and other debris.
Limiting the spread of dust when cleaning.
Repairing and sealing all holes, gaps, and cracks in walls, ceilings, floors, molding, baseboards, surrounding area of pipes and conduits, around and within cabinets.
Sealing and covering all door gaps by attaching door sweeps leading to hallways, basements, or outside.
Repairing all drains, faucets, and other plumbing materials that collect all water and have leaks to remove all possible water sources, which are attractive to pests and are responsible for making mold grow fast.
Using pesticides, safely and sparingly.
If pesticides are used to correct violations, only the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation licensed pest professionals are allowed to use and apply pesticides.
Property owners must safely remove indoor mold by cleaning mold in a building with an area measuring 10 square feet or less with less than ten apartments. It is important to:
Use HEPA vacuum or wet mops to address visible mold colonies and other sources of indoor allergen hazards.
All standing water, leaks, and moisture conditions that makes model growth conducive must be fixed and removed.
Before cleaning moldy areas, move furniture away or cover with plastic sheeting.
All mold cleaning related waste must be disposed of in properly sealed heavy-duty plastic bags.
If areas with mold issues are 10 square feet or more in a building with 10 or more apartments:
Only the New York State Department of Labor–licensed mold assessor and remediator are allowed to clean the area, and must comply with New York City Administrative Code section 24-154 and New York State Labor Law Article 32.
The law also requires owners with three or more apartments to:
Conduct annual inspection on every apartment and common areas for the following problems:
Pest infestations (e.g., cockroaches and rodents).
Visible mold growth and mold colonies. Only a NYS licensed mold assessor can conduct inspection on mold and perform remediation.
Owners are mandated to address conditions that lead to mold and pest infestation. This includes responding to tenant’s requests or complaints about mold and pests. In addition, owners should provide their tenants a copy of the HPD fact sheet and a notice with each tenant’s lease that clearly states the owners’ and tenants’ responsibilities to keep the building free from indoor allergen hazards.
Before prospective tenants move in, owners must make sure that all vacant apartments are thoroughly clean and free of mold and pests.
Responsibilities of current tenants under Local Law 55
According to Local Law 55, tenants are co-responsible for keeping their dwelling unit and building safe for people with asthma. Their tasks include the following:
Keep their dwelling unit clean and dry.
All food must be kept in sealed containers.
Sink and counters must be clean and free of food debris.
Newspapers and paper bags must be neatly kept and not cluttered
Garbage cans must have tight-fitting lids.
All garbage and recycling must be taken out every day. Garbage bags must be tied up before being put in compactor chutes.
Avoid strong smelling pesticides and chemicals, such as in cleaning products and air fresheners.
Immediately report pest problems, water leaks, or holes or cracks in walls and floors to owners or building superintendents.
Allow building staff into homes to make any needed repairs.
Violations and penalties under Local Law 55
The NYC HPD and DOB actively enforce Local Law 55 and prioritize tenants’ complaints. Here is a rundown of steps that happens when violations are reported:
A notices of violation will be sent to non-compliant owners.
Before the deadline stated in the notice, the law requires owners to:
Correct violations based on the inspection report.
File a certification of correction after remediation is completed.
Under Local Law 55, there are different penalty fees imposed depending on the severity of their violation. This can run from 10 to 125 USD per day. Costly violations can yield a maximum of 10,000 USD in penalties.
Call (718) 316-6866 for more information about Local Law 55 and for consultation with NYS licensed professionals who can handle both mold issues and pest infestation.