Provide Indoor Allergen Hazard Information to Prospective and Current Tenants
Local Law 55 of 2018, the Asthma-Free Housing Act, became effective on Jan. 19. Under this law, 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.
HPD has issued the final rules implementing Local Law 55. The rules provide for work practices to be used by owners in performing the work to remediate indoor allergen hazards such as mold, cockroaches, mice, and rats. The rules also provide a sample form for owners to use in providing notice to tenants as required under the law, as well as procedures for submitting certifications of correction of such violations and requesting postponements of the time period to correct such violations. Under the new law, owners must do the following:
- Perform annual inspections in each dwelling unit and common area of the building;
- Provide a notice to prospective and current tenants at the time of lease renewal that inform the household of the owner’s annual inspection obligation and to remediate mold, pests, and underlying conditions that cause mold and attract pests;
- Provide a City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) pamphlet to prospective and current tenants at the time of lease renewal;
- Use integrated pest management to address pest infestations, and prescribed work practices to fix mold and underlying defects such as leaks; and
- 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.
Owners must provide tenants or prospective tenants a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) pamphlet or notice informing them of Local Law 55 requirements. This pamphlet should be given with every vacancy and renewal lease effective Jan. 19. You can find the DOHMH pamphlet at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/Owners/indoor-allergens-tenant-pamphlet.pdf.
In addition, with every vacancy and renewal lease, you must attach an HPD-issued indoor allergen rider. But if you’re attaching it to a renewal lease, you can remove section 2 and the certification section. We’ve provided a Model Notice: Attach Required Indoor Allergen Hazard Rider to Leases.
Mold Remediation and Violation Clearance
Under Local Law 55, some of the required work practices to remediate mold includes:
- Investigating and correcting 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; and
- Cleaning any remaining visible dust from the work area using wet cleaning methods or HEPA vacuuming.
It’s important to note that the final rules define “visible mold” as mold that’s readily identifiable by visual inspection, including mold that’s behind furniture or other interior obstructions. Visible mold that is present on tile or grout doesn’t constitute an indoor mold hazard violation under Local Law 55.
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 an Affidavit of Mold Assessment and Remediation with the appropriate supporting documentation.
Under Local Law 55, owners must use integrated pest management practices to remediate the presence of pests such as mice, cockroaches, and rats, and any underlying defects (such as moisture) that may have caused the infestation. Integrated pest management practices require you to do the following:
- Inspect for, and physically remove pest nests, waste, and other debris by High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuuming, washing surfaces, or otherwise collecting and discarding such debris;
- Eliminate points of entry and passage for pests by repairing and sealing any holes, gaps or cracks in walls, ceilings, floors, molding, base boards, around pipes and conduits, or around and within cabinets by using sealants, plaster, cement, wood, escutcheon plates, or other durable material;
- Eliminate sources of water for pests by repairing drains, faucets, and other plumbing materials that accumulate water or leak;
- Remove and replace saturated materials in interior walls;
- Attach door sweeps to any door leading to a hallway, basement, or outside the building to reduce gaps to no more than one-quarter inch; and
- Use pesticides sparingly, and only when applied by a NYS-licensed pest professional. Note that any pesticide applied should be applied by a pest professional licensed by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Use of pesticides cannot and does not replace the need to use integrated pest management practices to address the infestation.
Owners are required to inspect apartments at least once a year, and more often if necessary, when an owner knows or should’ve known of a condition that causes a pest infestation. In addition, you’re also required to inspect or eliminate the presence of pests when a tenant notifies you of an infestation or requests an inspection of a condition that’s likely to cause pest infestations.
Correction Due Date Postponements
According to the rules, owners may apply for a postponement of HPD violation correction due dates “within the five days preceding the date set for correction of such violation.” But no postponements may be requested for a hazardous violation that has become an immediately hazardous violation, such as when the presence of visible mold measures in total greater than or equal to 30 square feet in a room within a dwelling unit or when the certification period for existing hazardous violation has expired and is certified as not corrected [NYC Administrative Code Section 27-2017.3(a)(4) or (5)].
Granting of postponements are at the sole discretion of HPD. They’re limited to circumstances where owners show that they have “taken prompt action to correct the violation but that full correction cannot be completed within the time provided because of serious technical difficulty; inability to obtain necessary materials, funds, or labor; or inability to gain access to the dwelling unit where the violation exists, or other such portion of the building necessary to make the required repair.”
According to the rules, an application for postponement must contain: a detailed statement by the registered owner or agent, or registered managing agent, explaining the prompt actions taken to correct the violation, the specific circumstances causing the inability to fully correct the violation within the time set, and an explanation of how correction will be completed within 14 additional days.
Where an owner claims inability to gain access, the application must include: a description of the steps taken to gain access, including but not limited to providing a written notice to the tenant informing the tenant of the hazard and need for access to the dwelling unit to correct the violation; proof of delivery of the notice by certified or registered mail; and why access couldn’t be gained.
HPD will make a determination in writing on whether the postponement will be granted or denied. And granted postponements “shall not exceed fourteen days from the initial date set for correction.”