NEWS: NYC Real Estate Compliance Changes Due To COVID-19

Last updated Monday afternoon, March 30th

As the city responds to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), local law agencies are adjusting certain requirements and procedures – here’s a full list noting changes across all city agencies.  

We’ll continue to update this post as changes are made, and we’ll let you know as soon as they happen – bookmark this page to see the latest compliance news.  

You can view updated Coronavirus information from the DOHMH here, and guidance on general disinfection guidelines for non-healthcare settings here. There’s also an FAQ sheet for residential buildings from the DOHMH. 

DOHMH

Permits

As of Friday, March 27th, an update on the main Agency changes page noted that the DOHMH has suspended permit processing. That said, the DOHMH’s permits page notes that while in-person services are not being provided, you can renew online.

We’ll continue to reach out and provide clarification and updates as they’re available.

Cooling Towers

The DOHMH has released updated guidance on cooling towers – you can access the full PDF here.

Here are some key points from the newly issued guidelines:

  • Under New York State Executive Order 202.6, service providers for cooling tower systems that support “Essential Infrastructure” are exempt from work staffing reduction requirements during the pandemic
  • Essential infrastructure examples include air conditioning, ventilation, refrigeration, industrial or manufacturing processing, and electric power generation
  • Per the guidance, “building management must work with their service providers to continue to comply with cooling tower regulations (Local Law 77 and Title 24 of Chapter 8 RCNY) with an adjusted water quality monitoring schedule, if needed”

If your cooling tower is in operation:

  • The building owner must coordinate essential services with operators and vendors and adhere to all cooling tower regulatory requirements.
  • If the building has staffing shortages, follow an interim water quality monitoring schedule
  • Bacteriological indicator and legionella sampling requirements remain unchanged
  • Avoid non-continuous operations even if heat loads vary. Circulate water for at least 4 hours every 3 days while applying chemical and biocides

If your cooling tower is off for the season:

  • Delay startup until you have the appropriate staff to complete the startup procedures
  • If you cannot delay startup, refer to the Startup Procedures for Cooling Towers Spring 2020 (linked here, on the second page)

For guidelines on additional cooling tower scenarios and the interim water quality monitoring schedule, see the PDF.

OATH (ECB)

All five OATH hearing centers are closed until at least April 13th. 

The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings is temporarily suspending its rescheduling rule. All requests to reschedule upcoming hearings will be granted – you can reschedule hearings througthis link 

You may also choose to have an upcoming hearing via phone, submitting any evidence via email. Click this link to view how to request a hearing via phone, and what you need to submit as part of your request. Per OATH’s latest update, you can also request a hearing by phone via email, sent to the borough hearing location listed on your summons. Click here for a list of email addresses for each hearing center.

As a side note, our friends at Cohen, Hochman & Allen have had several hearings by phone over the past week – if you have any questions about the details of the process, let us know & we’ll get you in touch with them.

Additionally, as of March 19th, OATH is staying defaults and will reschedule hearings for individuals who did not appear for scheduled hearings.

Log into your SiteCompli account and view your Calendar to ensure your upcoming hearings are rescheduled as needed.  

Department of Buildings

Access the DOB’s COVID-19 response page here.

The DOB is changing policies to limit the amount of walk-in traffic to DOB offices. While most updates relate to construction (see details on the construction halt below), there are some enforcement changes to be aware of. 

Resolving Violations

Effective March 20th (via Service Notice), you must call the issuing unit on a DOB violation to resolve it. You can find phone numbers and email addresses for respective DOB units here. For OATH summonses (below), you must contact the Administrative Enforcement Unit with any questions.

Certificates of Correction for DOB-ECB (OATH) violations can be submitted by mail or hand delivery to the Administrative Enforcement Unit, 280 Broadway, 1st Floor, New York, NY 10007. There will be no in-person review, only deposits in the designated drop-off box. You can verify receipt via the status (Certificate Pending) in your SiteCompli account. All documents will be returned by mail. For additional assistance, contact aeucustomerservice@buildings.nyc.gov.

Stop Work Orders

To arrange re-inspections and request SWO rescissions, contact the enforcement unit on the order. Here’s a list of relevant units and their contact information:

Concrete Enforcement Unit
(212) 393-2730

Construction Enforcement Inspections (Borough)

Bronx(718) 960-4730BXConstEnf@buildings.nyc.gov
Brooklyn(718) 802-3685BKConstEnf@buildings.nyc.gov
Manhattan(212) 323-8079MNConstEnf@buildings.nyc.gov
Queens(718) 286-8380QueensQConstructionEnforcement@buildings.nyc.gov
Staten Island(718) 420-5418BKConsEnf@buildings.nyc.gov

Construction Safety Enforcement
CSEAppointments@buildings.nyc.gov

Electrical Enforcement Inspections
(212) 393-2417

Plumbing Enforcement Inspections
(212) 393-2557
PlumbingSWO@buildings.nyc.gov

Vacate Orders

To rescind a vacate order, contact the respective Construction Enforcement Unit for the borough where the property is located (see the above table).

Construction Halt

New York State is halting non-essential construction. Read the governor’s updated guidance here

As of Friday, 3/27, only work on roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or healthcare facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters will be considered essential (see the city’s guidelines below). Violating this new rule could see fines of up to $10,000 from the state.

Per the governor’s office, “For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.”

Starting 3/31, the DOB will regularly inspect all construction sites to ensure compliance with the State Executive Order. Additionally, non-compliance will result in the issuance of a violation carrying a $5,000 penalty. 

Here are more DOB updates regarding construction suspension:

  • Click here to view a service notice from the DOB
  • See the city’s guidelines on essential versus non-essential construction here
  • See the city’s Bulletin for guidelines on securing suspended  construction sites

Essential Construction Requests

Beginning Tuesday, March 31, 2020, to perform emergency or solitary work at sites, go to www.nyc.gov/dobnow and submit an Essential Construction request as set forth in Empire State Development guidance on NYS Executive Order 202.6 and the DOB Guidance Document on Enforcement of Essential vs. Nonessential Construction.

For jobs in approved status, an Essential Construction request must be submitted to proceed with an initial work permit application (PW2). Hub Self-Service will not accept or process applications.

Antenna, Construction Fence, Curb Cut and Sidewalk Shed work types are exempt and can proceed without submission of an Essential Construction request.

Permits & After Hours Variances

Permits already in effect, are required to remain active until the end of the term for which they were issued and must be renewed for as long as work remains suspended. There are no changes to the permit renewal process and all applicable fees apply.

All After Hours Variance (AHV) permits will be rescinded. Initial AHVs can only be requested for jobs that have an approved Essential and Emergency Construction request. All approved jobs seeking a permit can drop off initial AHV applications at a borough office; it cannot be submitted in eFiling or DOB NOW. See the Application Processing Service Notice for information about drop off procedures.

Place of Assembly/TPAs

The approval process for PA and TPA requests is suspended for the duration of this state of emergency.

All other construction updates can be found at the DOB’s main COVID-19 response page.

Required Filings

The DOB is directing anyone with facade-related questions to facades@buildings.nyc.gov or 212-393-2551. Cycle 9 due dates have been posted, with the sub-cycle 9A (block last digits 4, 5, 6, and 9) filing period starting now through February 21, 2022.

There is currently no status change for annual Benchmarking filings, typically due on May 1st. We’ll keep you posted if and when this filing date changes.  

Housing Preservation & Development

HPD has created an informational update page for landlords and tenants as a resource – you can access it here. Generally, HPD is asking (not requiring) building owners to prominently display the most up-to-date COVID-19 flyers in your buildings. Flyers can be found here.

HPD inspectors are only inspecting hazardous violations for heat, hot water, and other dire conditions. Non-emergency housing complaints will be logged and scheduled when regular inspections resume. HQS inspections for vacant Section 8 units should resume next week (estimating April).

Effective Monday, March 16th, the Client Services center at 100 Gold Street is closed. It will remain closed at least through March 30th 

For Section 8 participating owners, HPD has put together a resource page here. Here are some of the major changes: 

  • HPD will be suspending any subsidy termination actions until further notice.  
  • All tenant conferences and briefings scheduled will be postponed. 
  • Owners with questions should contact DTROS@hpd.nyc.gov or fax 212-863-8526. 
  • HPD will automatically provide additional time for anyone with an active voucher. Vouchers set to expire will be automatically renewed.
  • HPD will temporarily suspend non-emergency HQS inspections. 
  • All hearings for appeal are cancelled until further notice. HPD will continue to pay subsidy until a final determination is made. 

For now, there is no additional guidance on heat/hot water inspections, or changes to violation certification dates and timelines.  

Fire Department of NY

Inspections

While there haven’t been any official blanket statements about FDNY-related inspections (permits, etc.), we’ve heard from owners and managers that inspections are still continuing, but may be impacted by building access. If you’ve closed a building entirely and have an upcoming or scheduled inspection, you may want to contact the FDNY and inform them. In general, you can reach out to FDNY.BusinessSupport@fdny.nyc.gov for updates during this time.

Violations

Effective immediately, the Cure/Compliance Unit will no longer conduct in-person processing of Certificates of Correction at FDNY HQ.

You can request CoC reviews/Proofs of Corrections via regular mail or email submission:

Submit your request via mail to:
Bureau of Legal Affairs
Administrative Enforcement Unit
9 MetroTech Center, 1st Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Submit your request via email to:
Curedesk@fdny.nyc.gov
Any questions should be submitted through the email provided above.

Requirements

The FDNY is now allowing – not requiring – building owners to postpone in-person fire drills and non-fire emergency (EAP) drills.  

Owners who postpone drills are encouraged to distribute to all required participants, either online or via hard copy, written information addressing fire safety and/or emergency preparedness, as applicable. Log entries shall be made by the owner/Fire and Life Safety Director indicating the postponement or delay, the reason, and the distribution of materials. Copy of distributed materials shall be kept and made available to the department upon request.  

Owners with questions can contact the FDNY by calling 311 and asking for the FDNY’s customer service center. You can also view other contact options via this link 

SiteCompli Resources and Tools

In addition to sending out automated Executive Summary reports (so you can see what’s going on across your portfolio & best prioritize without having to log in), SiteCompli is also giving users access to the Call Center & Tenant Portal feature for free.

SiteCompli’s Call Center lets you centralize tenant requests in one place, so your team can log into SiteCompli & determine what’s urgent, and what can be put on hold. Tenants use a simple and direct interface to log requests and record messages 24/7. You can even redirect calls during specific times or days of the week, depending on your team’s needs. That’s in addition to the online tenant portal, where tenants can also log requests.

If you’d like to turn on this feature for your account, just let us know – reach out to support@sitecompli.com, and we’ll help you get started ASAP.

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About the Author

Kristen Hariton

Kristen Hariton is the Product Marketing Strategist at SiteCompli. A member of the SiteCompli team since March 2013, Kristen has learned more about compliance and property operations than she ever thought possible. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.