Window Guards: Information for Tenants

Each year, young children are injured or die in falls from unguarded windows, even from the first floor. These tragedies are preventable with properly installed and approved window guards, which are required in many residential buildings.

You must have window guards if you live in a building that has at least three apartments and a child 10 or younger lives in your apartment. If you do not have window guards, ask your landlord to install them. If the landlord doesn’t fix the problem, file a complaint online or call 311.

Never leave a child alone in a room where there are open windows that do not have window guards. If window guards are not installed, keep windows closed and make sure children cannot climb up to them. Screens are not a substitute for window guards.

Even if you do not have a child 10 or younger who lives with you, you can still get window guards installed in your windows. If a window has an air conditioner, it must be permanently and securely installed with one-way metal screws to prevent any falls. The law does not allow tenants to remove window guards to install air conditioners. You can request the building owner to install your air conditioner unit and window guards in your home.

Find out what building owners and superintendents must know about installing window guards.

Where Do You Need Window Guards

Window guards are metal or aluminum devices that are specifically designed to prevent children from falling, not to stop a burglar. Guards should be in every window in the apartment and in common areas, except for windows leading to fire escapes. In buildings with fire escapes, the window guard must be left off one window in each ground-floor apartment so that the window can be used as an emergency exit.

All window types, including sliding windows with screens, should have window guards or limiting devices. Screens are no substitute for window guards. All window guards must be approved by the NYC Health Department and installed by your landlord, according to specific instructions.

Private homes are not required to have window guards, but we recommend they be installed in such residences.

How to Get Window Guards

Your building's owner or superintendent must:

  • Install window guards in your apartment if your building has more than three apartments, or if you request them.
  • Fix any window guards that need repair.
  • Install window guards in all public hallway windows if a child 10 or younger resides in the building.

Each year between January 1 and January 15, your building owner must give you an Annual Notice form (PDF) to complete indicating whether or not children 10 or younger live in the apartment, or if you want window guards for any reason. You must return the form to your landlord by February 15. You can also request window guards in writing at any time.

Costs of Window Guards

Building owners may charge tenants for the installation and cost of window guards in their apartments, but they may not charge for window guards in public areas. If you move out before paying for window guards in full, you must pay the balance immediately. Your building owner may deduct the remaining unpaid portion from your security deposit.

If you move into an an apartment that already has window guards, you cannot be charged for them. If the landlord chooses to replace the window guards due to renovation or window replacement, you cannot be charged for the new guards.

For rent stabilized or controlled apartments, landlords may collect a temporary surcharge for window guards, but the maximum amount may not exceed $10 per guard. Tenants may choose to pay all at once or over a period of one to three years.

Any charge for window guards may not become a part of the base rent for the apartment.

Tenants Receiving Public Assistance

Tenants do not have to pay for window guards, and they can be reimbursed if they have already paid for them, if they:

  • Receive public assistance
  • Hold a Section 8 certificate
  • Receive a Senior Citizen Rent Increase (SCRIE) tax exemption
  • Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Receive State payments under Section 209 of the Social Service Law.

Recipients of SSI or Section 209 subsidies may contact their Social Services District Offices with an itemized bill from their building owner following the window guard installation.

For more information about window guard costs:

Other Window Safety Tips

  • Regularly check window guards to make sure that they are secure.
  • Never place a bed, chair or any object that a child can climb in front of a window.
  • Keep children off balconies and terraces if they are not being closely supervised by an adult by locking doors to those areas.
  • Never let children play near elevator shafts or on fire escapes, balconies, terraces or rooftops. Do not let them play unsupervised in building hallways that have unguarded windows.
  • Call 311 to report unguarded hallway windows.

Falls from Windows

Report window falls by children 16 years or younger to the NYC Health Department. All falls from a window in a building with three or more units must be reported within 24 hours of the incident.

To report a window fall, visit Reporting Disease and Conditions.

Additional Resources

More Information