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Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Building & Neighborhood Issues

Publication Date: Summer 2000

FIRE SAFETY PLAN SERVICE AVAILABLE
The spring issue of the CNYC Newsletter described the new Fire Safety requirements of the City. Every multiple dwelling must prepare and distribute annually either in October or in January a Fire Safety Plan detailing fire safety and evacuation procedures for the building. In addition, building owners (and Boards of cooperatives and condominiums) must post in the lobby and distribute to all units a fire safety notice prepared by the Fire Department outlining procedures to be followed in the event of a fire in the building. The Fire Safety Notices delivered to apartments are to be in a format suitable for affixing to the inside of the front door of the apartment (though the cooperative or condo-minium is not responsible for verifying that the resident installs it). The requisite texts differ according to whether the building is combustible or non-combustible.

The Rent Stabilization Association (RSA) is offering a service to help your building comply with the new Fire Safety rules. RSA is a membership organization providing information and services to rental properties through-out New York City. Among the ser-vices it offers its members are annual mailing and record keeping on window guard notices and lead paint notices. Now RSA has a menu of services relating to fire safety. Members and non-members (at different rates, of course) can order from RSA a full Fire Safety package including a plan designed exclusively for your building and the safety information for posting in apartments. Rates depend upon the number of plans ordered, but the minimum for this full package is $25 for RSA members and $35 for non-members. Buildings preferring to order only the Fire Safety Notices from RSA. will be purchasing decals made of long-lasting, wear-and-tear resistant, self-adhesive vinyl. The cost is modest. To order, contact RSA at 212 214-9200, being sure to specify whether your building is combustible (fire proof) or non-combustible.

At CNYC's 20th annual Housing Conference on Sunday, November 12, 2000, representatives of the New York Fire Department will give a seminar on Fire Prevention and Safety, including guidelines on preparing the Fire Safety Plan for your building. This will be a fine opportunity to get answers to all of your questions about the Fire Safety Plan requirements. Click here for more details on the Conference.

LEAD PAINT INSPECTIONS UPON "VACANCY"
Local Law 38 of 1999 sets numer-ous requirements to prevent lead paint hazards in buildings constructed prior to 1960. This includes annual notification to every units to ascertain where young children live (followed by inspection of those units). Cooperatives and condominiums cope with these requirements without much difficulty. Where challenges arise is in complying with the requirement that when units become 'vacant', the "owner" must abate and repair chipped or peeling paint, smooth all bare floors and repair deteriorated subsurfaces and binding doors, windows and cabinet doors. Because the responsibility for maintaining the interior of apartments in most cooperatives and condominiums lies with the shareholder or unit owner, and most contracts of sale obligate the purchaser to accept title to the apartment in 'as is' condition, the question is when and how to require compliance with this provision of Local Law 38 for condominium and cooperative sales and subleases.

Attorney Marc Luxemburg, who is president of CNYC, suggests that cooperatives resolve this dilemma by requiring that seller and purchaser determine between themselves which one shall bear the responsibility for lead hazard abatement, and that this decision be memorialized in a document included in the application packet. Similar documentation should be required with sublet applications.

A cooperative's closing forms should be modified to reflect the obligations imposed by Local Law 38. The Assignment of Proprietary Lease should be modified to contain a representation that the seller has complied with any obligation imposed on it pursuant to Local Law 38. The Acceptance of Assignment should be modified to contain a representation that the purchaser: (i) has received and signed the Lease/Commencement of Occupancy Notice and received the Federal Lead Paint Hazard pamphlet, (ii) agrees to undertake required repairs before occupying the apartment, and (iii) agrees to certify as Owner that all work has been done. Regardless of the division of responsibility, a board may wish to required that a purchaser acknowledge that such purchaser may not occupy the apartment before all corrective work has been completed.

Monitoring compliance is even more of a challenge in a condominium, where the board does not have a role in closings on units. Bylaws could be amended to require compliance notice, but many condominiums require an impossible 100% affirmative vote of unit owners on amendments. An alternative could be to require a signed LCON before permitting a new unit owner to move in.

Once a board has adopted a policy for complying with Local Law 38, this policy should be clearly stated and widely circulated so that sellers can make brokers and buyers aware of their responsibilities.

CANOPY QUESTIONS
Two recent events adversely affect many buildings with canopies in New York City. Because they encroach upon the sidewalk, canopies come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, whose authorization is necessary to the installation of any new canopy (once other requirements such as landmark criteria have been satisfied). An annual $50 fee renews a canopy permit. In 1998, with little fanfare, the Department of Transportation amended its canopy regulations and granted buildings six months to bring their canopies into compliance. Now DOT is no longer renewing permits for non-compliant canopies and is citing these canopies with violations.

The new regulations require, for example, that the poles supporting the canopy be located no less than 18" from the curb nor more than 24". The Department of Transportation explains that its new rules are carefully designed to enhance the safety of persons and property and to mitigate the chance of lawsuits which injured parties typically lodge against BOTH the city and the building.

Recent modifications of bus routes have also had an unanticipated effect on canopy questions. The city has reduced the number of bus stops and has therefore relocated many stops. If a bus stop is now at a building with a canopy, DOT will not permit the renewal of its canopy permit. This to ensure that there are no unnecessary obstructions at the bus stop.

The DOT will not make any exceptions in the enforcement of its new policies. Buildings at bus stops must quickly eliminate their canopies and other buildings must cure violations to keep their canopies. The building can opt to eliminate the canopy completely, or it can consider two other alternatives, an awning or a marquee, both of which are affixed to the front of the building. Permission of the Department of Buildings is a prerequisite for the installation of an awning or a marquee. An architect or engineer must submit plans to the Department for the propsed structure. Approval must be granted and a permit obtained before construction can commence.

An awning is affixed to the front of the building. It has no supporting poles. A marquee is a rigid, rectangular structure attached to the building with rigid poles supporting it from above. A landmarked building or one in a landmarked district must show that its awning or marquee plan complies with landmark requirements before DOB will consider an awning permit. This is true even when a canopy is being removed and replaced with an awning or truncated into awning form. The Department of Buildings is happy to provide information on either of these canopy substitutes. Contact DOB at (212) 312-8011.

LIFE-SAVING OPPORTUNITY
A study is in progress aimed at improving survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest. New York City has been identified as one of 25 sites to participate in a federally-funded research program that will investigate whether placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in specific public locations can help improve survival from sudden cardiac arrest. These locations may include shopping malls, office buildings, manufacturing plants, hotels, senior residence facilities, or any place where large number of the middle-aged and elderly public may gather.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among adults in North America. It is a condition in which the heart stops abruptly and unexpectedly. The best treatment is prompt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed by witness to the arrest, plus prompt defibrillation by the Emergency Medical System Thus, it is believed that more immediate access to CPR and defibrillation would significantly enhance the survival rate in persons suffering sudden cardiac arrest. This study will investigate whether training and equipping non-medical personnel in the use of AEDs can help improve survival and whether such a program is cost-effective.

The PAD Trial design calls for identification of individual study units to be included in the Trial. A study unit might be an office building, a retail store, an apartment complex, etc. A unit would be randomly assigned either to CPR training or CPR training plus AED training. In the unit, non-medical staff (such as security guards, residents or office workers) would be recruited to be volunteer responders. Volunteers would be trained and also would receive periodic refresher training. Each unit will participate in the study for 15 months, beginning between September 2000 and January 2001, and all cardiac events occurring in the unit will be investigated.

Larger cooperative or condominium complexes would be well suited to take part in this trial, as would a neighborhood housing many seniors in contiguous buildings. If your building is interested in participating, contact CNYC, which will forward your information to Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, which is administering the program in this area.

At CNYC's 20th annual Housing Conference on Sunday, November 12, 2000 there will be a workshop on Meeting Special Needs of Frail and Elderly Residents.

 

 
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