For Immediate Release
January 22, 2020
ENHANCEMENTS FOR FAÇADE INSPECTION PROGRAM PUBLISHED IN CITY RECORD
New rules published in the City Record require more up-close, hands on inspections for periodic façade reports
New York – Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced the publication yesterday of a new amended rule governing exterior wall inspections and repairs, strengthening our existing Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP). The rules will be in effect on February 20, 2020. Known as “Local Law 11” inspections, this program requires all owners of buildings over six stories tall to hire licensed professionals to perform a comprehensive façade inspection every five years, and submit these FISP reports for our review. For details of this rule change, see this announcement from late December. You can see the final rule in the City Record here.
“Building owners are on notice – maintain the safety of your façades, or you will face stiff fines and rigorous enforcement,” said Commissioner La Rocca. “We are strengthening the tools we already have to ensure that New Yorkers are kept safe from deteriorating façades. New rule changes and more proactive field inspections will better equip us to hold negligent building owners accountable, and protect the public.”
Among other changes in the new amended rule, FISP reports will now require more up-close, hands-on inspections, as well as enhanced experience requirements for privately contracted Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWI), increased penalties for property owners who fail to make repairs to unsafe façade conditions, and a new requirement for landlords to post information on the status of the façade in the lobby of the building.
The final rule, published in The City Record, is part of a slate of recent actions DOB has taken to increase façade safety in New York City, following a December 2019 fatal façade collapse that occurred in Midtown, Manhattan. This rule change was first proposed in November 2019. DOB also implemented a number of enhancements to our existing agency façade inspection process, conducted a citywide sweep of façades in need of remedial repairs, and doubled our existing dedicated façade inspection team with the addition of 12 new staff to the unit. Since the proposed rule was first announced in November, we have incorporated several changes to the final rule, including an increase in penalties to property owners for late and missing FISP reports.
The safety of all New Yorkers is our highest priority. All buildings in New York City, regardless of height, are required by law to be maintained by their owners in a safe condition. If a member of the public suspects any potentially dangerous conditions on a building façade, they are strongly encouraged to tell the Department about it by filing an official complaint with 311, or to 911 in the case of an emergency.
“I commend the Department of Buildings for taking additional steps to enhance building safety, expanding critical regulations that keep the people frequenting our sidewalks and streets safe. New York is the biggest city in the country, and it is imperative that building owners comply with these regulations to safeguard human health and life. These new rules should make it clear that the City will not tolerate neglect in building maintenance, especially when it puts people in danger,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.
"Building owners now have zero excuses. The new stiffer regulations are in effect because New Yorkers should not have to worry about our buildings crumbling and injuring or even killing them due to negligence. It is clear we can no longer leave buildings in dangerous conditions because the consequences can be fatal," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Commissioner Melanie La Rocca is taking bold steps at the Department of Buildings to hold building owners responsible for needed facade repairs, or rolling up her sleeves and getting it done herself. While I initially proposed the City inspect sidewalk sheds under Int. 1353 of 2019, and make necessary repairs within 90 days under Int. 1389 of 2016, the Department of Buildings is being even more aggressive at 60 days. I look forward to a safer city with a lot less scaffolding, and with fewer, if any, collapses as this new program moves forward."
“In the wake of the tragedy that occurred in my district, I worked with the Department of Buildings to ensure that an accident from dangerous façades never happens again. The enactment of these rules is a positive step to ensuring that façades are kept up to code and accidents are avoided. As a city, our principle responsibility is to ensure the public’s safety and the swift enactment of these rules works to address that,” said Council Member Keith Powers.