What is Local Law 11?
Local Law 11, also known as New York Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), was enacted in 1998 and specifies the periodic inspections of facades and appurtenances of buildings taller than six storeys to protect passersby from falling debris. As per law, a New York State Registered Architect or NYS Licensed Professional Engineer with experience of at least one year must conduct an inspection once every five years. Around 14,000 buildings in New York are expected to come under the ambit of this law.
What happens after the inspection is completed?
After the inspection is completed, a technical report must be filed with the department of buildings. The report must classify the facades as either safe, unsafe, or safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP).
In case facade elements of a building are declared unsafe, they must be repaired within 30 days, failing which a penalty of $1,000 per month is imposed on the owner. However, after inspection, if your building is classified as SWARMP, it would mean that the facade condition might deteriorate and may become unsafe after some time. In such a case, a qualified exterior wall inspector will set a deadline for you to rectify the unsafe condition.
Failing to rectify SWARP conditions within the stipulated time frame and current cycle will attract a fine of $2,000 fine. The Department Of Building (DOB) will also issue a Class 1 violation, and the building owner will also have to install a sidewalk shed or scaffolding to prevent possible damages.
What are the deadlines for inspection filing?
The buildings are divided into three categories A, B and C for filing inspections. The last digit of the building’s block number will determine the category of your building. Building owners can file inspection reports within the two-year period mentioned in the category. The following table will help you determine the category and filing deadlines:
If the last digit of your building’s block number is 4, your building will fall in sub-cycle A, and your filing deadline will be between Feb 21, 2020 and Feb 21, 2022. So, you will have to file the inspection report of your building anytime between the stipulated two-year period.
Fees & Penalties
The DOB charges fees for filing FISP reports. As a Co-op board member or a building owner, you should make utmost efforts to follow the regulations as violations entail fines and penalties. Let’s take a look at the fees and possible penalties involved in FISP inspection filings:
- DOB charges a fixed fee of $425 for a new FISP report, subsequent report, or amended report.
- To seek a 90-day extension for repairing an unsafe facade, the DOB charges a $305 fee.
- For filing the report late, the DOB charges a $1,000 fee.
- Failing to file initial report results in a penalty of $5,000 per year.
- Failing to correct a SWARMP condition attracts a penalty of $2,000.
- Failing to correct an unsafe condition attracts a base penalty of $1,000 per month for each year of delay, plus linear foot of shed charges.
How to comply with Local Law 11 regulations?
Board members and building owners should self-inspect and take preventive measures so that, at the time of inspection, you don’t get an adverse report from inspectors. The following points can help you make your co-op or building comply with the Local Law 11 regulations:
- Keep all the records and drawings about your building, such as alterations, renovations, repairs, additions, and other construction works ready in a documented form. You might need it at the time of inspection.
- Ensure that all areas of the building are easily accessible and no clutter, debris, or unnecessary items lie on roofs, balconies or fire exit areas.
- Keep checking external facades of your building at regular intervals, particularly after severe weather, as this may weaken the structure and can fall off.
- Keep a regular check on window a/c units and ensure that they are secured with an interior angle or external bracket.
Local Law 11 or the New York Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) is for the safety of pedestrians, and complying with this law is the responsibility of the building owners or board members. The FISP inspection will help your building meet the safety criteria set by the Department of Buildings and also increase the value of your building. The occupants, tenants, or possible future buyers are more likely to be interested in dealing with a safe and inspection-passed building rather than a similar building that does not meet the FISP standards.