NEW LEAD PAINT LAW EFFECTIVE IN AUGUST
Local Law 1 of 2004 is New York City’s stringent new law to protect young children from the hazards of lead based paint. It was enacted by the City Council on February 4, 2004 over the Mayor’s veto. It applies to all residential buildings constructed prior to 1960, and it operates on the presumption that any such building will contain lead based paint. This presumption can be rebutted by having the building (or specific areas in the building) carefully inspected in a prescribed manner and declared lead free. Buildings erected after 1960 where lead based paint is known to be present must also comply with Local Law 1.
SAFE WORK PRACTICES
Owners must maintain their buildings in good condition, using trained workers and prescribed lead safe work practices for any repairs or renovations where more than two square feet of painted surface will be disturbed in a unit where a small child lives or in common areas. When more than 100 square feet of painted surface will be affected or two or more windows are to be replaced, the owner must file with the Department of Health 10 days prior to commencement of work (unless an emergency exists) and must use a firm certified by EPA to perform the work. At the end of any work that disturbs paint presumed to contain lead, dust wipe tests must be performed by a trained independent third party and read by a laboratory.
SEND ANNUAL NOTICES
Every year in January (or with rent notices for January payment) building owners must send lead paint notices to all apartments to ascertain whether children under the age of seven live there. If the notice is not promptly returned, the owner must make further efforts to collect it and to gain access to inspect the apartment to determine whether a small child lives there. In March, a report must be filed with the Department of Health of any apartments that have not responded, documenting efforts to recover the notice and to inspect the apartment.
INSPECT UNITS WITH CHILDREN
Upon learning that a small child lives in an apartment, the owner must inspect all painted surfaces and chewable surfaces in that apartment for chipped or peeling paint or bubbling subsurfaces. Records must be kept of attempts to collect notices and of all inspections and remedial work performed as a result. The owner must retain these records for 10 years, available for inspection, and must pass them on to successor owners of the building. Any problems detected by this inspection must be quickly remedied using safe work practices and the dust wipe test at completion.
Other provisions in this law apply to schools, to day care centers and to the health of small children. When the Department of Health learns of a child with elevated blood lead levels, the Department is authorized to inspect the child’s home to determine whether it is the source of lead contamination.
J-51 INCENTIVES FOR LEAD ABATEMENT
Local Law 1 also makes J-51 benefits available for lead paint abatement, including funds for inspection for lead based paint hazards and for risk assessment of these hazards. However, it specifies that an owner cannot apply for J-51 for work done to cure a lead paint violation.
As the City Council was working on this legislation, CNYC was successful in securing recognition of the special status of cooperatives and condominiums in two important ways:
- Like its predecessor, Local Law 1 of 2004 acknowledges that shareholders in cooperatives and condominium unit owners are responsible for maintaining the interior of their apartments.
- Owner occupied cooperative and condominium units are exempt from the annual inspection requirements. Local Law 1 treats these units exactly as it treats single family homes. They would be subject to inspection only if a child living there were found to have elevated blood lead levels.
In addition, Section 11-12 of the regulations provide a mechanism for downgrading a violation against an owner-occupied cooperative or condominium unit when the board and the unit owner attest to occupancy by the owner or family members of the owner.
All units in cooperatives and condominiums that are occupied by individuals other than the owners of record or members of that owners immediate family are subject to all of the same rule, notices, inspections and record-keeping as any other rental apartment.
BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THIS LAW
The foregoing is just a brief overview of a long and complex law and detailed regulations. Any building constructed prior to 1960 and any building of later construction where lead based paint is known to be present, should be certain that staff and management are familiar with the provisions of Local Law 1 and that the works practices it prescribes are consistently used whenever painted surfaces are disturbed. As classes become available to train workers in lead paint abatement practices, your building may want to have your superintendent and your handyman receive such training. It is currently available through the federal Environmental Protection Association (EPA). Classes are promised at Local 32B-32J‚s Thomas Shortman school in the near future.
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS NOW REQUIRED
On May 5, 2004, Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law 7 of 2004, which requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in every apartment in building that has a furnace or boiler that burns fossil fuels (defined as coal, kerosene, oil, wood, fuel gases, and other petroleum products) and in buildings close to a source of combustion materials (which may or may not include carbon monoxide). The detectors must be installed within 15 feet of each room used for sleeping. Local Law 7 applies to existing buildings (including cooperatives and condominiums) and private homes that are rented out, as well as to new construction.
The law will take effect on November 1st, just as the heating season is beginning. The Department of Buildings, in consultation with the Fire Department and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will develop regulations governing the implementation of this new law. These regulations, due 45 days before the effective date of the law (mid-September), will specify time frames for compliance, the types of devices that will be acceptable, the wording on requisite notices, and means of enforcement of this law. They will be reviewed in a future issue of this Newsletter.
To help CNYC members better understand the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, Peter Varsalona, P.E., Principal of Rand Engineering and Architecture, P.C., provided the following information:
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas formed when carbon or carbon-containing substances are burned with an insufficient supply of air. It is poisonous to warm-blooded animals and many other life forms. When inhaled, carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin in the blood, preventing the absorption of oxygen. Carbon monoxide poisoning impedes coordination, aggravates cardiovascular conditions, and produces fatigue, headaches, weakness, disorientation, and nausea. It can ultimately results in asphyxiation. If you detect any of the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately open windows, turn off all combustion appliances, and rush out into the fresh air. If necessary, seek treatment at an emergency room.
Carbon monoxide can form under the following conditions and from using the following appliances:
- Car left running inside a garage
- Clogged chimney
- Corroded or disconnected vent pipe on a water heater
- Gas or wood-burning fireplaces
- Cracked or loose furnace gas manifold
- Improperly installed kitchen range
- Grill operated indoors or in a garage
- Portable kerosene or gas heaters
In Your Building:
- Inspect your building’s heating system, chimneys, and flues annually and have them cleaned by a qualified technician.
- Make sure the furnace has adequate intake of outside air.
In Your Unit:
- Ensure that appliances are properly installed and adjusted and working to manufacturers’ instructions and local building codes.
- Make sure that stoves and heaters are vented to the outside and that exhaust systems do not leak.
- Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
- Avoid using kerosene space heaters.
- Never use an oven or gas range to heat your home.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly.
- Never leave a vehicle or a lawn mower or any other device powered by a gasoline motor running in an enclosed space.
- Never burn charcoal inside a home, cabin, recreational vehicle, or camper.
HOW DETECTORS WORK
Carbon monoxide is measured in average parts per million (ppm) in the air. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend that ambient air conditions should not average more than 9 ppm over an eight-hour period. Carbon monoxide detectors constantly measure the content of the air, and if CO is detected in concentrations of 100 ppm for a maximum of 90 minutes, they emit a loud, harsh noise or strobe lights designed to alert building occupants, even those who are sleeping. The Underwriters Laboratory has established the following standards for CO detectors:
- At 70 ppm, the unit must alarm within one to four hours
- At 150 ppm, the unit must alarm within 10 to 50 minutes
- At 400 ppm the unit must alarm within 4 to 15 minutes
COST OF DETECTORS
The cost of these devices is relatively modest, ranging from $25 to $75 per unit; the more costly models combine a smoke detector with a CO detector. Local Law 7 authorizes an owner to recover $25 for each unit installed. The detectors can be battery operated or hard wired with battery back-up. In garages or building lobby areas, there are central monitoring systems with multiple sensors for detecting carbon monoxide.
Local Law 7 requires that owners of multiple dwellings appropriately install CO detectors in all apartments and provide instructions on their use and maintenance. The owner must also keep clear records of these installations readily available for inspection. Tenants are responsible for maintaining the device and changing the batteries.
PROJECT SAFE & SECURE
In the contract negotiated in April 2003 with Local 32B-32J of the Service Employees International Union, which represents most of the workers in New York residential buildings (including cooperatives and condominiums), it was agreed that every 32B-32J residential member would be offered four hour of training session on apartment house security. The Thomas Shortman Training, Scholarship & Safety Fund is a labor-management partnership providing the training that is one of the many benefits available to members of Local 32B-32J. The Shortman School entered into a year-long collaborative to develop a meaningful safety curriculum in cooperation the police, the fire department and other experts. The result is NY Safe & Secure, a safety and security awareness training program designed to help workers improve their observation and communication skills and their ability to help in emergency situations. This training stresses that they are part of a team that includes the Police, the Fire Department, the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and other good resources, who all provide for the safety and security of New Yorkers.
Project Safe & Secure was introduced in May and has been very well received by union members and by management. At a press conference announcing Project Safe & Secure, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly offered high praise for the program, noting that it gives the City more “eyes and ears” to help enhance safety for all.
In the course of the next year to fifteen months, the Union anticipates that all its 2800 members who work in residential buildings will receive this training, preferably in or near the buildings where they work. Workers who are excused for the training during their work shift receive normal pay for that period. Workers attending the training on their own time are paid $100 for the session. Participants receive a booklet recapping the course and a lapel pin to show that they have completed this training.
CNYC learns occasionally of building employees who complain that they have been the object of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. These allegations must be taken very seriously and handled carefully. Should they lead to a law suit naming the cooperative or condominium, where harassment is proven, you will have no defense unless you have in place a written Anti-Harassment Policy.
Any cooperative or condominium that has employees should design (with the help of your attorney and management) and maintain a written, building-specific anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy. Your policy statement must define ‘discrimination’ and ‘harassment’, and it must provide a grievance procedure that includes reporting, investigative and resolution phases. Its provisions must be consistent with federal, state and local guidelines.
Once written and adopted by the Board, your Anti-Harassment Policy cannot idle on a shelf or in someone’s computer. Distribute it to all employees, to management and to Board members. To ensure that the policy is understood and that employees will comply, it is advisable to provide training to help employees them understand what behavior is acceptable, what is questionable, and what is unacceptable and actionable under the law. And your Board will be better prepared to exercise its management role if it also receives an annual briefing on your Anti-Harassment Policy.
At CNYC’s 24th annual Housing Conference on Sunday, November 14, 2004, there will be a workshop on this topic. The autumn issue of this Newsletter and the Conference brochure will give details.
Open garbage cans are an invitation no rat can resist! They tear through garbage bags and feast on the treasures they find. Gardens also provide food sources, as these annoying rodents voraciously consume many types of bulbs. They nest in niches and crannies in the retaining walls between buildings or – worse yet – in backyards, sheds and basements. And, while the City does budget considerable funds for pest control, it is not responsible for extermination of your building. If contacted, the Department of Health will investigate, but upon confirming the presence of rats, it will issue a summons to the affected buildings.
Multiple dwellings in New York city are responsible for providing tenants with a vermin-free environment. The services of an exterminator knowledgeable about rat control will include placing of traps at strategic points and planting poisoned bait. Still, improved day-to-day practices are also important aspects of rat control.
- Seal all holes and nooks that might serve as nesting places.
- Double-bag food waste and rinse food from recyclables.
- Store garbage inside the building or in closed containers that the rats cannot penetrate.
- Obtain a schedule from the Department of Sanitation and place garbage at curbside as close to collection time as possible (rather than putting them out the night before for rats to enjoy).
Cooperation of the residents and staff of your building and all the buildings in the area are key to discouraging rats from sharing your neighborhood.