City Council Passes Real Estate-Related Laws for 2018
In December, in the last legislative session of 2017, the City Council passed a number of bills affecting owners. They are intended to go into effect in 2018. After a bill is passed by the City Council, it is presented to the mayor, who has 30 days to either sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or take no action.
If the mayor vetoes the bill, it is sent back to the City Council. If this happens, the City Council can override the mayor’s veto with a two-thirds vote. If the mayor doesn’t sign or veto the bill within 30 days, it becomes law. Once a bill is signed by the mayor (or its veto has been overridden by the City Council), it’s then added to the New York City Charter or Administrative Code. Here are the recent bills affecting owners passed by the City Council:
Noise Code Amendments (Int. 1653-2017). On Jan. 17, the mayor signed a bill to amend NYC’s administrative code in relation to responses to noise complaints. This new law allows city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspectors responding to construction noise complaints to measure the noise level on the street or walkway, rather than being required to take decibel readings inside the complainant’s building.
If the DEP inspector determines the noise level exceeds regulations, the inspector can issue an immediate stop-work order, requiring the equipment to be shut down immediately. The law also requires contractors to file alternative noise mitigation plans and request exemptions to the law if they expect that increased construction noise will be necessary to perform the job. The law also says construction work performed without a noise mitigation plan is unlawful.
Until 2020, sound readings taken 50 feet or more from the source or 500 feet from a residence cannot exceed 80 decibels. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, acceptable levels max out at 75 decibels. Impulse sounds like those of a jackhammer can be only 15 decibels above ambient sound levels.
The city is also required to publish online reports detailing how many noise-related violations have been reported, what fines were paid for those violations, the number of stop orders issued, etc.
Energy Efficiency Grades for Certain Buildings (Int. 1632-2017). This bill was signed into law by the mayor on Jan. 8 and is effective immediately. It requires owners of buildings over 25,000 square feet in size to post their energy-efficiency grade, ranging from A to F, near public entrances. Private building owners whose properties fall under the law’s requirements must enter performance metrics measuring energy usage into a public database. The database will then give them a score, or “energy grade” that owners are required to post.
Online Portfolio Report of Registered Owners (Int. 1009-2015-A). This bill requires HPD to create an interface to report an owner’s information, including the address of each registered property owned, the number of outstanding violations for each property, the number of harassment findings on record with the department for that owner, and the number and types of departmental orders pending on each property. The department may provide the aggregate data used to create the website to the public advocate.
It will go into effect 270 days after signing, except that the HPD commissioner may issue rules or take other actions for implementation before its effective date.
Owner Responsibilities for Indoor Allergen Hazards (Int. 0385-2014). This bill establishes owners’ responsibilities in relation to indoor allergen hazards. It requires owners to annually inspect and correct indoor allergen hazards, including mold, pests, and underlying symptoms that may cause hazardous conditions, such as water leaks and pest entryways (holes and cracks), in the homes of residents diagnosed with asthma, COPD, or lung cancer.
The bill also requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to report on activities to educate physicians and health care providers who treat persons with asthma about the role of indoor allergens in asthma exacerbation, and requires DOHMH to take certain measures to educate persons about indoor allergen hazards.
The bill is intended to go into effect one year after signing, except that the HPD commissioner may issue rules or take other actions for implementation.
HPD City-Owned Vacant Building Report (Int. 1039-2015). This bill was signed into law on Jan. 8 by the mayor and went into effect immediately. This law requires HPD to report on the vacant buildings or lots under the jurisdiction of HPD, categorized by the potential to be developed or the feasibility of development those buildings or lots as low-income housing.
Vacant Properties Census (Int. 1036-2015). This bill was signed into law on Jan. 8. It requires the city to conduct an annual census of vacant properties in coordination with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Buildings, the Department of Sanitation, the Fire Department, and any other relevant agencies. The first census is to be initiated within 90 days of signing and it is to be completed within 180 days thereafter.
Construction Site Safety Violations Penalties (Int. 1419-2017). This bill increases civil penalties for violations of chapter 33 of the Building Code where the violation is accompanied by, or results in, a serious physical injury. The minimum civil penalty for a violation that is accompanied by or results in fatality or serious physical injury would be $500,000 and the maximum would be $1.5 million, in addition to a separate daily penalty of not more than $2,000. The bill is intended to go into effect 120 days after signing, except that the DOB commissioner may issue rules or take other actions for implementation.