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Local Law 55-The Asthma-Free Housing Act

by Nate Weinberg on January 15, 2019 , Comments Off on Local Law 55-The Asthma-Free Housing Act

New York City tenants can now breathe easy!

On January 19th, 2018, the New York City Council passed Local Law 55 of 2018, the “Asthma-Free Housing Act.” The bill was created to fight rising asthma rates and to improve the quality of life for the more than one million asthmatic New Yorkers.

Local Law 55 will take effect in just a few days, on January 19th, 2019.

Let’s take a look at some of the key components of Local Law 55 and review your responsibilities and obligations for compliance.

What is Local Law 55?

Local Law 55 requires all multiple-dwelling property owners in NYC to investigate and remove all indoor health hazards which trigger asthma, like mold, rodents, and cockroaches. Landlords must also apply safe and successful measures to ensure that their properties remain free of indoor health hazards.

What do I need to do now?

As a landlord, you have two primary calls to action for compliance with Local Law 55: investigate and remediate.

Let’s explore what each of these steps entails.

  1. You’ll need to initiate an investigation by a licensed professional for all indoor allergen hazards in occupied units and in common areas of your building(s), as well as conditions that are conducive to allergen hazards. Indoor allergen hazards include indoor infestations of cockroaches, mice or rats; or conditions that are vulnerable to infestations of these pests. It also includes mold that is growing on an indoor surface, building structure, ventilation system, or within wall cavities; and mold that is hidden behind interior obstructions and furniture.
  1. You must take responsible measures to keep your property free from indoor allergen hazards and pests, and from conditions that are conducive to indoor allergen hazards. You will also need to eradicate any existing indoor allergen hazards or conditions that are conducive to indoor allergen hazards.

How often do I need to investigate for indoor allergen hazards?

According to Local Law 55, you are required to initiate an investigation once a year. You must also perform an investigation whenever it is deemed necessary, such as when an occupant complains about a condition that may cause an indoor allergen hazard, when an occupant requests an inspection, or when the DOB issues a notice of violation or violation order.

Do I need to inform my tenants about the specifications of Local Law 55?

When the new law takes effect, you will need to include a notice about your obligations for compliance with Local Law 55 in all tenant leases. This notice must be approved by the DOB and must be available in multiple languages.

How can I protect my property from pests?

To comply with Local Law 55, your building(s) must be effectively sealed from pests, including rodents and cockroaches.

Here’s how to ensure your property stays pest-free:

  • Repair and seal any existing holes, gaps or cracks in walls, ceilings, floors, moldings, base boards, around pipes and conduits, or around and within cabinets. To effectively remove these possible points of entry for pests, use durable materials such as sealants, plaster, cement, wood or escutcheon plates.
  • Attach door sweeps to doors leading to a hallway, basement, or outside the building to reduce gaps to no more than one-quarter inch.

Violations for noncompliance

The DOB is cracking down hard on landlords who are not compliant with Local Law 55.

The presence of visible mold that is less than 10 square feet in a single room of a dwelling will constitute an indoor mold hazard violation. Mold that measures between 10 square feet and 30 square feet in a single room will constitute a hazardous violation.

Penalties for violations vary according to incidence and can be as steep as $10,000 per violation. As mentioned, any incidence of indoor allergen hazards must be corrected. Certification of Correction by licensed professionals must be obtained and promptly submitted to the DOB.

How can I correct a mold violation?

If your inspection reveals the existence of mold in your building, you’ll need to take immediate steps to correct it so that you’re not issued a violation. But you can’t just call down any mold specialist to zap that stuff off your walls; the HPD has very specific criteria for who can perform a remediation for mold.

According to Local Law 55, a mold hazard must be assessed and remediated by both a NYS licensed Mold Assessor and a NYS licensed Mold Remediator.

You will need to perform an investigation annually and you may need to remediate several times a year as well. It is therefore a good idea to have one or more of your maintenance staff receive certification as a Mold Assessor and a Mold Remediator. Certifications for both titles are available on NAETI.com.

How can I prevent mold from growing in my building?

Local Law 55 is especially challenging for landlords. After all, they’re expected to control the growth and spread of mold, an allergen hazard that often grows out of sight.

You can help prevent the growth of mold with these simple steps:

  • Educate your tenants about moisture intrusion and mold-related practices.
  • Use a Relative Humidity (RH) meter and thermal imaging to assess the levels of RH in your building. Keep the RH below 60% as that is the point at which mold is likely to grow and spread.
  • Repair any envelope leaks in your building promptly.

The latest amendment to the NYC compliance code means more obligations for you as a landlord, but don’t sweat it! Here at Jack Jaffa & Associates, we’ve got you covered. Call or stop by to learn how we can help you comply with Local Law 55.

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Jack Jaffa & Associates Accomplishments 2018

by Aaron Munk on January 8, 2019 , Comments Off on Jack Jaffa & Associates Accomplishments 2018

2018 was an amazing year for us at Jack Jaffa & Associates and we hope it was even more spectacular for our clients! Click on the video link above to get a glimpse into some of what we accomplished in 2018. We hope that 2019 will be just as great for us, all our clients, all New Yorkers and all of New York!

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Everything you need to know about your Annual Safety Mailing

by Ahuva Ruvel on December 19, 2018 , Comments Off on Everything you need to know about your Annual Safety Mailing

What is Annual Safety Mailing?

All property managers/landlords of a building with 3+ apartments must send yearly safety documentation and forms to tenants in order to ensure compliance with city agencies.

What are your requirements as a property manager/landlord?

You must:

  • Hand deliver, mail first-class or send with January’s rent bill all required forms & information,
  • Track and store responses and follow up on non-respondents,
  • Inspect properties for lead paint and oversee any required window guard installations,
  • Notify the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) if you can’t determine if a child lives in a unit, and
  • Keep records of sent mailings, follow-up efforts and tenant responses.

Pro-Tip: If you don’t receive responses from tenants, you need to inspect their apartments for proof of child(ren). If you can’t get into their apartments to do so, document and retain proof of your efforts for ten years to avoid criminal charges and liability.

What is included in the Annual Safety Documentation?

  1. Fire & Emergency Preparedness (FEP) Guides – NEW to 2018!
  2. Window Guard Notices
  3. Lead Paint Notices
  4. Forms inquiring about the ages of any children living in your tenants’ apartments, window guards and NEW to 2018, stove knob covers.

When must it be done?

  • Notices must be delivered between December 15th 2018, and January 16th, 2019.
  • Tenants must respond by February 15th.

What are the penalties if you don’t do it?

The DOHMH and FDNY levy fines ranging from $500 to $5000 per violation for landlords who do not comply with this law.

If an accident occurs in one of your dwellings and you did not comply with this law, you may be charged with a crime, which can mean increased insurance rates, and/or prison time. To make it even worse, you can be hit with a lawsuit for negligence from the affected tenant.

How can you expedite your Annual Safety Documentation?

The Jaffa team can take care of the entire process for you. From mailing the forms to following up on any work that needs to be done as a result of your responses.

All you’ll need to do is fill out some basic information on our website and Jaffa will take care of the rest. Plus, we provide 5 easy ways for your tenants to respond ensuring a higher response rate, enabling your compliance.

Additionally, Jaffa can help you  keep tabs on the process by tracking the entire process online and viewing a scanned copy of the responses whenever you need them.

View a clip about it here or Contact Jaffa today for more details.

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The Stove Safety Initiative: A JaffaCares Project

by Aaron Munk on December 6, 2018 , Comments Off on The Stove Safety Initiative: A JaffaCares Project

As the anniversary of the devastating Belmont fire draws near, NYC officials are looking for ways to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. The fire was caused by a young child accidentally turning on an unprotected stove last year and with the apartment door open, the fire spread rapidly through the building.  The blaze claimed thirteen lives of New York City residents and has left in its wake numerous devastated families. However, at the same time, it may have sparked a new law that will save countless lives, as well as the new JaffaCares initiative, which will help New Yorkers stay safe.

In recent months, the Jaffa Team met with survivors of the tragic fire and was moved by how utterly preventable this tragedy could have been. It was this heart-wrenching meeting combined with laws being proposed by Councilman Torres and Borough President Diaz which propelled the company to take action and create a Stove Safety Initiative as part of their JaffaCares program.

In conjunction with the new law (Local Law 117) that was signed into effect last Thursday, December 6th, JaffaCares was honored and proud to partner with Councilman Torres, Borough President Diaz and 1010WINS last Tuesday, December 4th at a press conference announcing both the new law and the JaffaCares initiative.

The law requires all building owners:

  • To distribute safety covers for stove knobs to tenants with children six years and under.
  • Provide stove knob covers in units without young children if the tenant requests them.
  • Distribute an annual notice to tenants advising them of their right to request stove knob covers and provide safety covers within thirty days of sending the annual notice.
  • Post signs in visible areas regarding fire safety including reminding tenants to close doors if a fire breaks out.

In response to this new law, JaffaCares is supplying these safety covers free of charge to all New York residents.   As New York’s largest compliance consultant firm, Jaffa is committed to making New York City a safer place to live and therefore was excited by the opportunity to implement this life-saving initiative.

Together with Councilman Torres and Borough President Diaz, Jack Jaffa spoke about the importance of the newly drafted law and how safety covers are a small price to pay to keep New York residents safe.   He expressed his honor in being able to play a small part in keeping New Yorkers safe and in preventing fires like last year’s fire from occurring.  He also thanked the councilmen for pushing through this crucial law and for advocating for the safety of their constituents.

The free safety covers were delivered to many NY councilmen allowing them to distribute them to their constituents and many other councilmen have already reached out to Jaffa requesting to be part of the program.  JaffaCares is looking into how they can expand the program and other ways they can continue to keep New Yorkers safe.

To find out where you can get your free safety cover, please visit JackJaffa.com/Jaffacares.

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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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