Put Required Sprinkler System Notice in All Residential Leases
Starting Dec. 3, 2014, all residential leases issued in New York State must include a notice advising tenants whether there is a sprinkler system at the “leased premises.” If there is a sprinkler system, the owner must also state the last maintenance and inspection dates of the system.
This requirement is set forth in new Real Property Law Section 231-a. The law, enacted in response to the deaths in 2012 of three Marist College students killed in an off-campus apartment fire, was added to heighten tenant awareness of the fact that many buildings do not, or are not required to, have sprinkler systems. The law states that the notice provision must be contained in “every residential lease” and should be added to all residential leases, renewal leases, subleases, license agreements, or other occupancy agreements. The law appears to apply to cooperative building proprietary leases as well. The law contains no provisions for enforcement or penalties in the event of noncompliance.
The sprinkler notice must be “conspicuous” and set forth in bold-face type. The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) has built the sprinkler system notice provision into its recently amended Renewal Lease Form (see "Use Revised DHCR Forms for Vacancy and Renewal Leases") and, for rent-stabilized tenancies, it must be included both in vacancy and renewal leases. The rent-stabilized Renewal Lease Form, recently revised by the DHCR, includes the sprinkler system notice at new paragraph 10:
10. Leased premises does [ ], does not [ ] have an operative sprinkler system. If operative, it was last maintained and inspected on _________________.
The law doesn’t define “leased premises,” and it’s unclear whether that term is intended by the legislature to refer to sprinkler systems within apartments only or contained in any portion of the building in which a tenant resides.
Owners or managing agents who draft their own leases should add this provision to their forms immediately. If you purchase form leases prepared, for example, by Blumberg, REBNY, or RSA, check that the required sprinkler notice provision is in the version of any lease form that you use. If not, add a simple lease rider to include the sprinkler notice provision.