In New York, residential landlords have a number of variable obligations that can change depending on the particularities of the tenant’s living situation and the layout of the building itself — among these is the requirement to install windows guards. As a landlord, your failure to do so could expose you to significant civil liability.
Let’s explore the basics.
In New York City, residential landlords with buildings featuring three (3) or more apartment units must install window guards (that satisfy the standards imposed by law) in those units where the tenant is living with a child who is 10 years old or younger. Every window in the unit, with the exception of fire escapes, must be fitted with a window guard. All common area windows must also be outfitted with window guards.
In addition to providing window guards, residential landlords have a continuing obligation to provide all of their tenants in qualifying units a window guard notice when tenants begin renting with the landlord, as well as for each subsequent year that the tenants rent with the landlord. This notice must be distributed to tenants within the first thirty (30) days of the lease term, and assists tenants in determining whether to have window guards installed. The tenants must respond honestly and accurately as to whether a child (10 years old or younger) is living with them so that the landlord can install window guards, as necessary.
It’s worth noting that, even if a tenant is not living with a child (who is 10 years old or younger), he or she may request the installation of window guards and the landlord must honor the request.
If a tenant fails to notify the landlord of the presence of a child who is 10 years of age or younger, or who does not submit a clear request to the landlord of their desire to have window guards installed by February 15 of each year, then the Landlord must perform an inspection of the premises to determine whether a child who is 10 years of age or younger lives there. If the inspection does suggest that a child 10 and under does live at the premises, then the landlord must determine whether there are properly installed window guards. If the tenant refuses to allow the landlord to perform an inspection, then the landlord must notify the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and document its attempts at contacting the tenant. If the tenant refuses to allow the landlord to install window guards, the landlord may report the tenant online. See New York City Health Code, Sec. 131.15.
By law, the tenant is prohibited from modifying or removing a window guard that has been installed by the Landlord pursuant to the legal requirements listed above. Modification or removal by the tenant may shield the landlord from liability.
Here at Griffin Alexander, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience representing the interests of residential landlords in landlord-tenant disputes, including those that involve a failure to install adequate window guards in qualifying units. We have extensively litigated claims relating to New York landlord tenant law, and are well-positioned to navigate the complexities of such disputes.
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