DOB Issues Placards, Waives Application Fees for Repair Work
On Nov. 12, Mayor Bloomberg signed an emergency order to waive all Department of Buildings (DOB) application and permit fees for repair work to buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy. To help New Yorkers affected by the storm, buildings with significant structural damage in need of demolition, alterations, or reconstruction will have all their repair work fees waived, and all fees for electrical and plumbing repair work will be waived for any building damaged by the storm until further notice.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the DOB has been performing rapid assessment inspections of buildings damaged by the storm. Under this process, the DOB has inspected approximately 80,000 buildings citywide, and these inspected buildings and blocks have been tagged with green, yellow, and red placards based on their condition.
Buildings that qualify as severely structurally damaged, including those that were issued an immediate emergency declaration or commissioner’s order, are tagged with red placards. Fee waivers for these building apply to all demolition applications and permits; to alteration 1, 2, and 3 applications and permits to renovate and repair damaged structures; as well as to new building applications and permits to rebuild structures that were completely destroyed. Owners of these buildings can take advantage of the fee waiver. In addition, all buildings damaged by the storm will also have their application and permit fees for plumbing and electrical repair work waived until further notice.
What the Colored Placards Mean
The DOB-issued inspection placards have been placed on inspected properties as follows:
Green: There are no restrictions. A green placard means no apparent structural hazard was observed. However, the inspectors might not have had access to all parts of the building, and so there may still be some hazardous conditions, such as flooding. If you have evidence that damage to your building is significant, you should contact the DOB by calling 311 to schedule a re-inspection. A green placard must remain posted until the DOB announces that all green placards can be removed.
Yellow: There are restrictions. The property is damaged; entry limitations are specified on each posting. Nonstructural damage that can lead to the posting of a yellow placard includes but is not limited to a compromised electrical system, the loss of basic sanitary facilities due to broken water or sewer pipes, or life safety systems, including but not limited to fire alarms, sprinklers, standpipes, and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Other situations can involve localized structural damage that would place a portion of a building in an unsafe condition while other areas remain usable.
After the condition is corrected, you should email email@example.com to report that information. You should attach to the email any documents or photos demonstrating that the conditions are corrected. If the repairs required a licensed electrician, plumber, fire suppression contractor, architect, or engineer, you should include a statement from that licensed professional that the conditions are corrected. The yellow placard must remain up until the DOB authorizes its removal.
Red: The building is unsafe. Property is seriously damaged and is unsafe to enter or occupy. A red placard is not an order to demolish. The DOB will remove the placard after the conditions have been corrected.
Red Placard Information for Building Owners
If your building was tagged with a red placard, this means the building is unsafe–it has been seriously damaged and is unsafe to enter or occupy. Buildings that require structural work cannot participate in NYC Rapid Repairs because the program is designed for minor repair work only. For these buildings, the DOB will be performing in-depth, follow-up inspections and advising building owners on the proper course of action to take.
If your building was tagged with a red placard, you need to take the following steps to repair your building and make it safe for re-occupancy:
1. Hire a New York State-licensed professional (Registered Architect or Professional Engineer) to perform an assessment of your building and develop a remediation plan based on her findings.
2. Hire a contractor to make the necessary repairs. Your contractor may begin work before filing an application with and obtaining permits from the DOB.
3. File an application with and obtain permits from the DOB within two days after commencing emergency work or submit a self-certification report from your licensed professional to the DOB stating that all repairs have been made and the building is safe for re-occupancy. Reports should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the in-depth, follow-up inspections, the DOB will take one of the following actions based upon its findings:
Building is unstable and poses an immediate danger:If a building poses an immediate danger, the DOB will issue an immediate emergency declaration, ordering the building owner to take corrective action within 48 hours of the declaration being issued to correct the immediately hazardous conditions. The necessary corrective action will be listed on the declaration.
Building is unstable, but doesn’t pose an immediate danger:If the building poses a danger, but the danger is not immediate, the DOB will issue an emergency declaration, ordering the building owner to take corrective action within 30-60 days to correct the hazardous conditions. The necessary corrective action will be listed on the declaration.
Building is stable, but still poses a danger:If the building is stable, but still pose a danger, the DOB will order the building owner to seal the building.
Placard change:After the in-depth, follow-up inspection, the DOB may determine that the damage to your building is not severe enough to warrant a red placard. In this event, the DOB will change your placard from red to yellow. The new placard will provide detailed information on what repairs are needed. If building owners are unwilling or unable to perform the necessary corrective action, the city will step in and take the necessary action to remedy the hazardous conditions.
Housing Code Enforcement, Building Maintenance Complaints
In some instances, you may have tenants who have filed complaints by calling 311 with the New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). As a result, you may receive Notices of Violation for immediate emergency conditions caused by Hurricane Sandy.
HPD has announced that it realizes that, in some cases, repairs of such conditions may be delayed due to post-storm logistical difficulties and a scarcity of appropriate resources. If you receive a Notice of Violation for a class C violation, HPD will consider forbearance of any enforcement action pending the correction of the condition if HPD determines that the condition is storm related and is being corrected as soon as is practicable under the circumstances.
If you believe that this is the case, respond to HPD’s Notice of Violation with details regarding the cause of the condition and your remediation plan, including your efforts to procure appropriate repair services and/or a letter from a vendor indicating when and how repairs will be conducted.
Part of your remediation plan may be participation in the NYC Rapid Repairs Program. NYC Rapid Repairs is a program to make your building safe for occupancy. The first step to sign up for NYC Rapid Repairs is an assessment of the damage in your building. Assessments are free and don’t require any commitment to participate in NYC Rapid Repairs. And an assessment won’t affect any FEMA benefits you may receive.
You can sign up for a NYC Rapid Repairs assessment by visiting NYC.gov, calling 311, or visiting one of seven Restoration Centers. After you sign up for an assessment, a representative of Tishman Construction will contact you within 48 hours to schedule an appointment at your building. An Assessment Team comprised of an electrician, a plumber, and an architect or engineer will arrive at the scheduled time to inspect your building. The Assessment Team will present you with a list of repairs necessary to make your building safe for occupancy.
After you receive your list of repairs from your assessment, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for NYC Rapid Repairs. There are two ways to sign up:
Option A: You can register for NYC Rapid Repairs at your building with your Assessment Team. If you’d like the city’s contractors to make repairs to your building, the Assessment Team will ask you to sign a waiver to allow the city’s contractors to make repairs and will share your information and the scope of work with the city’s contractors. The city’s contractors will contact you to schedule the repairs.
Option B: If you’d like to discuss the repairs with your family or your insurer, or if you’re not ready to register for NYC Rapid Repairs with your Assessment Team, you can register for NYC Rapid Repairs by calling 311 at any time.
HPD asks that you notify all tenants about any delays you are experiencing, keep them informed of the progress of repairs, and provide them with any appropriate intermediary solutions that you can. If heat is affected, HPD also asks that you take any steps recommended by your plumbers or other professionals to keep pipes from freezing, which could cause additional damage to your property and further delay the restoration of services.
Note that, where tenant health and safety are at risk, HPD may need to perform emergency repairs notwithstanding a request for forbearance that meets the conditions described above. In addition, you must notify HPD if you’re working with the Rapid Repair program and mention that program in your forbearance request. If you don’t respond to HPD, HPD will attempt to make repairs and the city will bill you through the Department of Finance for the cost of the emergency repair plus related fees and/or for the cost of sending a contractor to attempt to make repairs.
If you fail to pay, the city will file a tax lien against the property. The tax lien will bear interest and may be sold and/or foreclosed to collect the amount owed.
You may contact HPD at email@example.com or (212) 863-6020 about the forbearance process.