Asthma-Free Housing Act Goes into Effect Jan. 19
This past January, the New York City Council passed Local Law 55, the Asthma-Free Housing Act. The law intends to combat rising asthma rates and improve the quality of life for more than one million New Yorkers who have been diagnosed with asthma. Effective Jan. 19, 2019, under Local Law 55 of 2018, an owner of multiple dwellings will be required to inspect units annually for indoor allergen hazards, such as mice, cockroaches, rats, and mold. And it requires owners to prevent and remove these indoor health hazards that can trigger asthma.
Key owner obligations under the new law include performing annual inspections in each dwelling unit and common area of the building and providing an annual notice and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) pamphlet to prospective and current tenants at the time of lease renewal. The DOHMH pamphlet hasn’t been published yet. When it’s available, it will inform the household of the owner’s obligation to:
- Perform an annual inspection of each dwelling unit; and
- Remediate mold, pests, and underlying conditions that cause mold and attract pests.
The new law also requires owners to use integrated pest management to address pest infestations, and prescribed work practices to fix mold and underlying defects (such as leaks). In addition, owners are required to perform mold, pest, and underlying defect remediation along with thorough cleaning of any owner-provided carpeting or furniture before a new tenant moves into an apartment.
Mold Remediation and Violation Clearance
Under Local Law 55, some of the required work practices to remediate mold includes:
- Investigating and correct any underlying defect, including moisture or leak conditions;
- Minimizing the dispersion of dust and debris from the work area to other parts of the dwelling unit;
- Using HEPA vacuum-shrouded tools or a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter at the point of dust generation;
- Cleaning mold with soap or detergent and water;
- Cleaning any remaining visible dust from the work area using wet cleaning methods or HEPA vacuuming.
When submitting certifications for mold violations, you must use the Certification of Correction for Mold. When submitting documentation for violation clearance after the certification period has passed (for example, in response to a Defect Letter or when filing a Dismissal Request), you must also submit the Affidavit of Mold Assessment and Remediation with the appropriate supporting documentation.
Owners have an obligation to maintain their properties free of pests. Under Local Law 55, owners must use integrated pest management practices to remediate the presence of pests. Any dwelling unit or common area found to have mice, rats, and/or cockroaches will result in a Class C (immediately hazardous) violation. All other pest infestations will result in a Class B (hazardous) violation. Required integrated pests management practices include:
- Inspecting for, and physically removing pest nests, waste, and other debris by High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuuming;
- Eliminating points of entry and passage for pests by repairing and sealing any holes, gaps or cracks in an apartment using durable material such as sealant and plaster;
- Eliminating sources of water for pests by repairing plumbing materials that accumulate water or leak.