Lawn Litter Law Takes Effect
Building owners are responsible for maintaining their properties in a clean manner, and this includes public sidewalks that are 18 inches from the curb line and abutting their properties. The new Lawn Litter Law may help owners with this responsibility, since unsolicited advertisements that are deposited on doorsteps or other areas of private property can be blown away by the wind, causing litter to accumulate on the streets and sidewalks next to buildings.
Under a new state law that became effective as of Aug. 2, 2008, the enforcement agents of the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) are now able to issue tickets against advertisers for placing unwanted and unsolicited advertising material, such as leaflets and restaurant menus, in your building.
The backers of the law hope that the possibility of stiff fines will keep violators from distributing unwanted printed advertisements, and hope that cleaner streets and less waste will result. Fines range from $250 for first violations, up to $1,000 for repeat violators.
What Constitutes Unsolicited Advertisement
Newspapers, periodicals and other materials that contain “a de minimis amount of news” are exempt. This means that the law applies to advertising material that does not contain any editorial content or information other than material concerning the business, services, or products offered by the business or businesses circulating the ads.
The Environmental Control Board will make a determination on whether printed material is considered “advertising” if the distributor denies that it is so. Multiple documents that are packaged together using a bag, rubber band, or other device will be analyzed separately to determine whether they violate the law.
For the Lawn Litter Law to apply, at least one tenant must agree to prohibit unsolicited advertisements. The property owner must then post a sign that is at least 5 inches by 7 inches and that states in legible letters at least one inch in size: “Do Not Place Unsolicited Advertising Materials On This Property,” or specific instructions indicating how many apartments want to receive unsolicited advertisements, if any, and where they must be placed.
If an owner finds unsolicited advertisements on the property after posting a sign, he must then file a citizen's complaint form with the director of enforcement at the DSNY. The owner must then enclose those advertisements with the complaint form, and mail the package to:
Director of Enforcement
NYC Department of Sanitation
c/o Unsolicited Advertisement Enforcement
1824 Shore Pkwy.
Brooklyn, NY 11214
Owners can get complaint forms by visiting the DSNY Web site. Owners who send in the complaint form may be called before the Environmental Control Board to testify about the ads.