Compliance deFINED Blog

New Smoking Policy Rule Now in Effect

by Nate Weinberg on November 12, 2018 , Comments Off on New Smoking Policy Rule Now in Effect

Did you know that smoking kills 12,000 New Yorkers every single year?

The government has always been at the forefront of the battle against smoking. The New York City government is now going beyond the cigarette tax and the no-smoking laws for every indoor establishment. One of the city’s recent laws on smoking, Local Law 147, affects you directly as a property owner.

Here’s all you need to know about NY’s newly effective Smoking Policy rule:

What is the new law?

Local Law 147 states that every building owner of Class A residential properties must create and share a Smoking Policy with each of their tenants.

The law was passed in August, 2017, but only went into effect on August 28th, 2018. You can read the full text of the law here.

Condos and co-ops must comply with Local Law 147 as well. The property’s board of managers, directors, or governing body act in lieu of the building owner. Every instance where the law refers to a tenant, it also encompasses all Class A dwellers, including individual unit owners and tenant-shareholders.

What is a Smoking Policy?

The DOH defines a Smoking Policy as “a written declaration that states in a clear and conspicuous fashion where smoking is permitted or prohibited on the premises of a Class A multiple dwelling.”

A Smoking Policy must address every location of the building, including the following:

All common areas
All dwelling units
Rooftops
Common courtyards
Balconies
Patios
Any outdoor areas that are connected to dwelling units

The Smoking Policy must be shared with all the units’ residents, including tenants, owners, lessees, sub-lessees, and any guests who are visiting the property.

It’s important to note that Local Law 147 is not meant to serve as a means in which to permit smoking in areas where it is prohibited by existing laws. All buildings must comply with previously-established smoking laws.

How is the Policy shared?

In order to comply with Local Law 147, all building owners must provide their tenants with a copy of the building’s Smoking Policy. Copies of the Policy must be distributed annually. Alternatively, the owner can post the Policy in a public and prominent area of the building.

The Policy must be included in all future lease agreements, purchase or share agreements, and subleases.

If a building has existing tenant regulations, the Smoking Policy must be incorporated into these rules.

If the owner chooses to make any changes to the building’s Smoking Policy, written notification of these changes must be provided to every tenant.

Once an owner has created the building’s Smoking Policy and has distributed it as per one of the aforementioned means, the owner must preserve a copy for agency inspectors and department representatives who may request to review it at any time.

Enforcement of the law

Local Law 147 will be strictly enforced. Owners who are non-compliant with the law, will be fined $100 per violation. Failure to provide the proper documentation of a building’s Smoking Policy during inspection or upon department request, can result in fines of $100 per violation. Tenants, who disobey the law and smoke or use electronic cigarettes in prohibited areas, will be fined $50 per violation.

As a property owner, you are required to create and share your own smoking policy with your renters. You can find DOH’s sample policy here and tweak it to fit your specifications.

If you’re unsure whether you are fully compliant with Local Law 147, don’t hesitate to give us a call. At Jack Jaffa & Associates, we’re here to help you be completely compliant with all relevant NY laws.

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Why You Need to Use Tenant Surveys

by Michael Jaffa on October 19, 2018 , Comments Off on Why You Need to Use Tenant Surveys

The days are long gone when complaining about a company meant spending hours on hold waiting to talk to a customer service rep. In our digital world, all it takes is a few keystrokes for a customer’s less-than-satisfactory experience to go public—or even viral.

With businesses growing more transparent and bending over backwards to cater to their clients’ needs, is there still a place for the old-time customer survey?

As a property owner, do you really need to ask your tenants to rate your building and your service? When renters are so eager to post their reviews online, do you still need to go fishing for feedback?

The answer is a resounding, yes! You might get all sorts of comments and reviews on your website and social media pages, but a tenant survey is an invaluable way to keep your finger on the pulse of your tenants’ needs. You need to know what your tenants think of your building. You want to determine how happy they are with their units. You’d like to verify the competence and cordiality of your management staff. And the best way to get an honest look at this information is by using tenant surveys.

A tenant survey is a simple, efficient way to gather crucial information and to let your tenants’ voices be heard.

Here are 4 reasons you should be using tenants surveys:

  1. Gain Focus

 Getting feedback from your tenants is the perfect way for you to identify the areas you need to focus on and improve. Are your tenants frustrated by the lengthy response time of the maintenance team? Do your tenants think the rent collection process is inefficient? Is there a major safety or compliance concern you are not aware of?  The survey’s results will tell you where you should be spending your time, energy and resources.

A tenant survey will ultimately help you keep your building running in top form.

  1. Hold onto Your Good Tenants

Every property owner wants their units filled with respectable, long-term tenants. A high turnover rate can be expensive to fund and absorbing the cost of an empty unit isn’t cheap either. Also, when trying to fill vacant units, you run the risk of ending up with undesirable new tenants who can drag down the appeal of your entire building.

Hold onto the valuable tenants you have by using surveys to keep them satisfied.

  1. Improve Your Reputation

People like to share good tidings. Keeping your tenants happy with their units will prompt them to share these pleasant feelings with their family and friends. They’ll yap about their incredible building on the phone and they’ll brag about their awesome apartment on their social media pages. Best of all, tenants who see their concerns taken seriously are more likely to recommend their building to their friends.

Use surveys to keep your renters happy and let your tenants be your best marketing gimmick.

  1. Show Appreciation

Everyone wants to be heard and understood. By providing your tenants with a medium to share their impressions of your building, you are showing them how much you value and appreciate them. It’s your way of saying thank you for choosing your building as their home.

Using tenant surveys is a great way to strengthen your relationship with your tenants.

How to Create a Tenant Survey

Are you convinced that you need to use tenant surveys? We’ll show you how! Simply follow these five steps:

Create a questionnaire. Ask about your tenants’ satisfaction with various aspects of your property, including management responsiveness, payment policies, the appearance of the interior and exterior of the property, safety concerns and more.
Use an online survey tool like Survey Monkey to help you create a digital survey. Email the survey directly to your tenants.
Let your tenants know about the survey and offer an incentive for timely participation.
Collect the responses and run a statistical analysis on the results to identify the key areas that need improvement.
Notify your tenants about the changes you will be making because of their survey responses and be sure to follow through with your pledges.

Lots of property managers ask exiting tenants to complete a survey, but the best way to conduct tenant surveys is to send them out annually to all current tenants. This will enable you to make the changes necessary to keep your tenants happy.

If any of your tenants use the survey to alert you about a safety or compliance issue, be sure to give us a call. At Jack Jaffa & Associates we’re all about helping you keep your buildings safe!

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What’s New at the DOB?

by Alexandra Schwab on October 1, 2018 , Comments Off on What’s New at the DOB?

Sometimes it can feel like the NYC compliance code changes as often as the weather. What’s lawful and compliant today can be a reason for a violation tomorrow. Keeping up with the constant changes isn’t easy—but that’s where we come in. Jack Jaffa & Associates is committed to keeping you informed about all the changes the DOB implements to the NYC compliance code and all related regulations.

Here’s a brief overview of the changes made to the NYC compliance code over the last few months:

JULY

Elevator Compliance Filings to Launch in DOB NOW: Safety

In July, the DOB announced that as of September 17th, 2018, all inspection/test reports and notifications for elevators and similar devices need to be submitted online via DOB NOW: Safety. (See September changes below for another update on elevator filings.).

Change in Safety Registration

Also in July, the DOB announced the following changes to safety registration:

All original applicants for Safety Registrations will need to submit the LIC7 application to srgc7@buildingsnyc.gov for review.

Applicants seeking Safety Registrations, including construction, concrete and/or demolition endorsement that will allow for construction permits of 4 stories or more, will need to schedule an appointment with the DOB’s Licensing & Exams Unit. You can schedule your appointment by calling (212) 393-2259

 

AUGUST

The Electrical Enforcement Inspections Unit Relocates

On Monday, August 6, the Electrical Enforcement Inspections Unit relocated to One Centre Street, 23rd Floor, Room 2342.

Limited Alteration Application (LAA) Filings to Launch in DOB NOW: Build

In August, the DOB announced that effective October 15, 2018, all new Limited Alteration Applications (LAA1) and Emergency Work Notifications (EWN) must be submitted on DOB NOW: Build. LAA filings submitted in DOB NOW will be permitted in real time.

New Online System for Plan Examination Appointments

Also in August, The DOB announced that it will launch an online self-service appointment system on October 1, 2018. The website will replace the current procedure of calling 311 to make appointments through the Plan Examination Notification System (PENS).

Follow Up to Service Notice on Elevator Compliance Filings

In a follow-up move to its announcement in July regarding elevator compliance filings, the DOB stated that paper elevator compliance filings will not be accepted after August 31. As of September 17, 2018, all paper elevator compliance filings must be submitted online via DOB NOW: Safety. (See September changes below for another update on elevator filings.).


SEPTEMBER

Several Central Units Relocate

On Monday, September 10th, 2018, the following central units within the DOB relocated:

  • AEU
  • Central Cashier
  • Central Filing and Billing
  • Central Inspections
  • LAA
  • Licensing Units

The units relocated from the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors of 280 Broadway to the 1st floor of 280 Broadway.

Second Follow Up to Service Notice on Elevator Compliance Filings

To accommodate owners and industry members who are in the process of transitioning to DOB NOW, the DOB has announced that it will continue to allow paper filings of Elevator Compliance Notices in certain circumstances. The exact circumstances that warrant a paper filing can be found here. If your filings do not fit the requirements, you must submit them via DOB NOW: Safety as previously instructed. By 2019, all filings must be submitted in DOB NOW: Safety.

New Requirement: HPD Pilot Program Mandates Owners to Submit Required Documents to DOB

In accordance with Local Law 1 of 2018, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will develop a list of buildings identified as at-risk for tenant harassment for a new pilot program. The list will be effective as of September 28, 2018.

All owners of buildings on the HPD Pilot Program List will be required to submit a Certificate of No Harassment (CONH) or other HPD documentation to the DOB prior to obtaining approval or a work permit for covered categories of work.

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All You Need to Know About Local Law 141

by Michael Jaffa on September 19, 2018 , Comments Off on All You Need to Know About Local Law 141

On August 24th, 2018, the DOB officially amended Local Law 141 of the administrative code of NYC, effective immediately.

Are you wondering what you need to know about these recent changes? We’ve got you covered! As always, Jack Jaffa & Associates is committed to keeping you in the loop about the latest developments and changes to NYC’s compliance code.

Read on to learn all you need to know about Local Law 141.

What does the law entail?

There were several amendments made to Local Law 141, most of which are only applicable to the DOB. The most important change all property owners need to know about is the following: Anyone planning a construction or demolition project must now provide written notice to the adjoining owners of their property.

These are all the applications of the law:

Application for construction approval

• When a property owner submits an application for approval of construction to the DOB, the department will promptly examine the application for compliance with the law requiring written notification to adjoining property owners as well as all other relevant laws.
• Each application for construction approval will be granted an application number for future reference.
• The examination of the documents will be performed by a qualified and registered professional who has extensive experience in building construction and design.
• When an application for construction is received, the DOB will provide written notification to any adjoining property owners.

Applications for permits

• All permit applications must be submitted on forms supplied by the DOB.
• Permit applications must include all required information and comply with all pertinent rules and laws.
• The applicant must list any parts of the construction project that have received approval for deferred submittal.
• All permit applications must include an inspection program for the construction project.
• Permit applications must be submitted no more than 12 months after approval was granted for the required construction documents.
• When a permit application is submitted, the DOB will provide adjoining property owners with written notification.

Insurance coverage for adjacent properties

• Anyone who has obtained a permit for construction or demolition projects must obtain and maintain adequate insurance as specified by the DOB, which will insure owners of adjacent properties against loss, property damage, injury or death that is caused or triggered by the construction or demolition work. The insurance must remain in effect for the entire duration of the project.
• When applying for a permit for construction or demolition work, one must submit proof of insurance to the DOB.
• The DOB will provide proof of this insurance along with the permit to the adjoining property owners 30 days before the construction or demolition work is scheduled to begin.
• The only exception to this rule is emergency work that has been declared such by the DOB. If an emergency situation is verified, the permit and proof of insurance can be provided to the adjoining property owners within a reasonable amount of time.

What does all this mean for you?
As a building owner, you likely have your fair share of construction and demolition projects among your properties. While most of the above law applies to the DOB, be careful to remember the following:

• Be sure to provide adjoining property owners with written notification about any planned construction or demolition work.
• When submitting permit applications, only do so on the forms supplied by the DOB.
• Be sure to include all required information and a planned inspection program on your permit application.
• Submit your permit application no later than 12 months after receiving approval for your construction documents.
• When planning a construction or demolition project, be sure to obtain adequate insurance for the adjoining property and to submit proof of your insurance along with your permit application.

Do the recent amendments to Local Law 141 still have you feeling confused? No worries; Jack Jaffa & Associates is here to guide you through the complexities of NYC’s compliance code.

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All You Need to Know About the NY Rent Hike

by Mindy Datik on August 26, 2018 , Comments Off on All You Need to Know About the NY Rent Hike

Early last month, NYC’s Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) voted to approve the largest rent increase on regulated apartments since 2013. The vote was cast with the narrowest margin possible, and the public reaction to the vote has been a vociferous mix of disappointment and resentment.

As always, Jack Jaffa & Associates is here to bring you the inside scoop on anything and everything NYC landlord-related in the news. Read on for all you need to know about the recent rent hike.

How high was the increase?

The board voted to permit rent increases on stabilized apartments by 1.5% for all one-year leases and 2.5% for all two-year leases.  The increases will go into effect on October 1st for all of the city’s rent-stabilized tenants who choose to renew their lease.

This vote marks the second year in a row that the RGB has approved rent increases following the historic freezes of 2015 and 2016.

The city’s landlords have seen some of the lowest rent increases under the Bill de Blasio administration. In 2014, during his first year as mayor, the RGB announced the lowest rent increase ever: 1% for one-year leases and 2.75% for two-year leases. The next year, the mayor supported the first rent freeze to go into effect since the board was founded in 1969.  The freeze was voted into effect again in 2016, and last year, the board ended the freeze with rent increases of 1.25% and 2%.

Who voted for this decision?

The RGB is comprised of nine members: five members from the public, two tenant representatives, and two owner/landlord representatives, all of whom are appointed by the mayor. In this important vote, four public members and one landlord member of the RGB voted in favor of the increase, sealing the vote’s outcome by the narrowest margin possible.

Why were landlords disappointed by this vote?

 Although gratified for any rent hike, NYC landlords and property owners found the increase to be woefully inadequate.

The Rent Stabilization Association, representing 25,000 owners of rent-stabilized apartments, called the rent hike “pathetically insufficient.”

This reaction is largely due to the costs of maintaining rent-stabilized buildings which have been rising steadily since de Blasio was voted into office. In the last four years, owners’ costs rose by more than 11% and their taxes saw a 25% increase. This year alone, operating costs for rent-stabilized buildings rose by 4.5%.

The Rent Stabilization Association was calling for steeper increases to the tune of 4.5% and 7.25%.

It isn’t easy to turn the same profit when your costs are rising but your revenue is not.

What was the reaction of tenant groups?

The many groups representing tenants were naturally disappointed to see a rent increase for the second year in a row, no matter how modest.

One group, the Rent Justice Coalition, claimed NYC’s landlords had been “overcompensated for decades” while as much as 30% of rent-stabilized tenants spent more than half of their monthly paycheck on paying the rent.

There were a total of 966,000 rent-stabilized apartments in 2017, comprising 44% of all rental units in New York City. With a vacancy rate of these dwellings hovering at 3.63%, it’s difficult for tenants to find apartments. And with many rent-stabilized apartments renting at more than $2,000 a month, even a slight increase is significant for cash-strapped tenants.

In short, neither side is thrilled with last month’s vote to increase the rent on regulated apartments. Hopefully, though, this is the beginning of an upward trend on rent increases for NYC property owners like you.

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8 Marketing Strategies to Help You Rent Your Property

by Gabrielle Klein on August 7, 2018 , Comments Off on 8 Marketing Strategies to Help You Rent Your Property

Vacancies are more than just a trivial annoyance; they can put a serious strain on your budget and cost you big. But attracting those perfect tenants can be challenging.

Fill up those empty units by marketing your property the right way. You’ll need to go beyond the faded “For Rent” sign near your building in order to get the word out – and we’re here to help you do just that.

Read on for 8 fantastic marketing strategies that will help you fill up those vacancies fast!

  1. Identify your target audience

If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. That’s why it’s crucial that you identify and understand your target audience before you market your rentals. Spend some time studying neighborhood trends and amenities. What kind of age group would be interested in your property? Is your location super-convenient for a specific profession or industry?  Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can speak their language when you market your property.

  1. Market where your target renter hangs out

Now that you’ve identified your target audience, think about where they might like to spend their spare time and what kind of websites or apps they might be using. Advertise in these places to reach the people you’re trying to attract. Consider an ad in a local movie theater, on ridesharing apps like Uber, on popular neighborhood blogs, and in universities and coffee shops.

  1. Get social

Social media is more than just an inane popularity contest; it’s one of the most effective ways to attract new tenants. Make sure you have an active social media presence and that you freshen up your platforms, blog and web page to keep those visitors coming. Use Instagram and Pinterest for posting updated photos of your properties, LinkedIn for a professional online presence, and Facebook for open correspondences with existing and prospective tenants.

  1. Update your curb appeal

You don’t want to turn those renters down before they’ve even stepped inside your building. Make sure your property’s curb appeal is neat and inviting.

Try these suggestions for an updated look:

Slap a fresh coat of paint on the exterior of your property.
Spruce up the façade with outdoor planters full of vibrantly colored flowers.
Add a canopy for a charming touch.
Replace your ancient, dated signs with a newer, trendy one.

  1. Use word of mouth

Word of mouth can be a tremendously rewarding marketing technique. Harness its power by encouraging a positive buzz about your properties. Offer your existing tenants rewards or bonuses for referring their friends and ask them to post positive reviews and recommendations on your online platforms. Treat them respectfully and kindly so that they’ll be more likely to recommend your building to their friends.

  1. Advertise in the right places

In today’s digital world, the classified ad that announces a rental vacancy is completely passé. Instead, make sure your vacancy is listed on online forums like Craigslist.com, Zillow.com, HotPads.com, Rent.com, Apartments.com and similar sites.

  1. Support local merchants in exchange for free advertising

Set up a bartering system with local businesses and you’ll both benefit from the deal. Include information about these merchants in your welcome packet for new tenants and offer them complimentary advertising on your online platforms in exchange for free advertising in their locations. You’ll reach a broader audience without spending a penny.

  1. Choose the right property management company

If you outsource your property management, make sure you are using a company that has excellent branding. The best kind of marketing a management company can do for you is to offer a specific “cool factor.” This can be something as simple as greener living for renters, complete with solar-powered electricity and recycling programs. Another “cool factor” is for your management company to brand you as offering pre-leasing. This tells prospective tenants that your apartments are so desirable that people want to sign leases for them even before they can move in.

Use our handy tips to fill up those vacancies and stop losing money on empty apartments!

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