What to Do if Tenant Refuses Access for Window-Guard Installation
You face a big problem if you know that a child under the age of 11 lives in an apartment but the tenant won’t let you in to install window guards. Section 131.15(a) of the city’s Health Code requires you to install window guards on each window of an apartment occupied by a child under the age of 11, except fire escape windows and first-floor windows that serve as fire exits.
The penalties for not complying with this regulation are stiff: You can be fined up to $500. Also, not complying is considered a criminal misdemeanor. If convicted, you face an additional $500 fine and up to six months in jail. And if there’s a tragedy and a child falls out of a window that isn’t protected by window guards, the tenant can sue you for damages.
Tenant Must Allow Access
The law is on your side in getting access to an apartment to install window guards. Section 131.15(b) of the Health Code says that a tenant can’t “obstruct or interfere” with the installation of window guards. A tenant with children under 11 who refuses access is violating this city regulation and subject to fines and penalties imposed by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH). Also, if the tenant refuses to allow you access to install window guards, you can, as a last resort, seek the tenant’s eviction.
Take Five Steps to Get Tenant’s Compliance
Before you spend time and money on an eviction lawsuit, try to get the tenant to voluntarily allow you into the apartment to install the window guards. Take these five steps:
Step 1: Check lease. If a tenant refuses access to install window guards, check your lease. The tenant may be violating two common lease clauses.
One clause requires the tenant to comply with all city, state, and federal laws and regulations. Since the Health Code requires tenants with children under 11 to allow owners access to install window guards, a tenant with children under 11 who refuses access is violating this regulation and therefore the lease clause.
Another common lease clause requires the tenant to provide access for the owner to make repairs or changes that the owner deems necessary. A tenant who refuses access for window-guard installation is also violating this lease clause.
Step 2: Make oral request. Ask the tenant to allow you access to install the windows guards. Remind the tenant that you are trying to comply with a city law and that the tenant is violating the law and the lease by refusing access.
Step 3: Send polite letter. If, despite your oral warning, the tenant continues to refuse you access to install the window guards, send the tenant a polite but firm letter asking for access. Inform the tenant that the city’s Health Code requires tenants with children under 11 to provide access to the owner to install window guards. Also, point out that the tenant is violating the lease, which requires the tenant to allow access. You can also remind the tenant that window guards will protect his children from life-threatening falls.
Step 4: Ask for help from DOH. To get DOH’s help, send the DOH’s Office of Field Operations Inspections a letter explaining that the tenant has refused to allow you to install window guards in the apartment, even though the tenant has a child under the age of 11. You can reach the office at 253 Broadway, 6th Fl., Box CN59A, New York, NY 10007.
In the request, state that you orally requested that the tenant allow access and that you also sent the tenant a letter. Include a copy of the polite letter you sent to the tenant asking for access. The DOH will then send a letter to the uncooperative tenants, informing them that they are violating the city’s Health Code by refusing the owner access to install window guards.
Step 5: Send get-tough letter. The DOH pressure will usually be enough to get most tenants to cooperate. But if it isn’t, you’ll have to get tough yourself. Send a second, more forceful letter, like our Model Letter: Get-Tough Letter for Access to Install Window Guards.
Our letter tells the tenant that he’s violating his lease and points out the two lease clauses the tenant is violating. You’ll have to adapt your letter to conform with your lease. Our letter also reminds the tenant of the dangers of not having window guards. The letter also makes it clear to the tenant that if he doesn’t allow access within a specific time period—15 days—he risks being the target of an eviction lawsuit. A tough letter may get the necessary results—and remove the need for you to sue for the tenant’s eviction.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Get-Tough Letter for Access to Install Window Guards|
More like this
- Deliver annual window guard and lead-based paint notice to tenants
- Check if tenants responded to annual window guard and lead paint notice
- Notify DOHMH of tenants who didn’t respond to annual window guard and lead-based paint notice.
- Deliver annual window guard and lead-based paint notice to tenants.