Retaining Walls

Owners of properties with a retaining wall that faces a public right-of-way and has any portion of the wall extending ten feet or higher must have their retaining wall inspected every five years by a Qualified Retaining Wall Inspector (QRWI) and a condition assessment report of the inspection submitted by the QRWI within 60 days of completing the inspection.

Inspection Cycle

The current inspection cycle (Cycle 1) runs from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2018.

Staggered Sub-Cycles

Cycles are staggered into five (5) sub-cycles. For retaining walls in the:

Bronx January 1, 2014  to  December 31, 2014
Manhattan January 1, 2015  to  December 31, 2015
Staten Island January 1, 2016  to  December 31, 2016
Queens January 1, 2017  to  December 31, 2017
Brooklyn January 1, 2018  to  December 31, 2018


  • Initial filing: $355.00
  • Amended filing: $130.00
  • Application for extension of time to complete repairs: $260.00

Civil Penalties

  • Late filing: $250.00 per month
  • Failure to file: $1,000 per year
  • Failure to correct an unsafe condition: $1,000 per month, prorated daily

Wall Ratings

All retaining walls must be given one of four ratings by the QRWI:
  • Safe
  • Safe with Minor Repairs or Maintenance
  • Safe with Repairs and/ or Engineering Monitoring
  • Unsafe

Steps for Compliance

  1. Identify if your wall must be inspected – If you have an entire retaining wall or part of a retaining wall on your property and it is ten feet or higher at any point on your property and faces a public right-of-way, you must have the wall inspected by a QRWI, and an assessment report submitted by the QRWI. Owners that share a retaining wall with one or more neighbors may hire one QRWI to inspect the wall.

  2. QRWI conducts inspection – The QRWI conducts the inspection and determines rating of wall.

  3. QRWI submits condition assessment report and filing fees – Within 60 days after completing the assessment the QRWI must submit a report to the Department that meets, at a minimum, the criteria spelled out in RCNY §103-09. Filing fees are also payable for each property owner for whom the report is being submitted (a wall with multiple owners may have one report submitted for all of the owners, but filing fees must be paid by each individual owner).

Notification Unsafe Conditions

If at any time an owner discovers an unsafe condition he or she must:
  • Notify the Department by calling 311
  • Call the Department directly with the 311 complaint number within 24 hours of discovering an unsafe condition

If during the course of an assessment QRWI discovers an unsafe condition, he or she must:
  • Notify the Department by calling 311
  • Call the Department directly with the 311 complaint number within 24 hours of discovering an unsafe condition
  • Complete the Notification of Unsafe Conditions form (RWIP3) and submit to the Department before submitting the inspection report
  • Complete the Retaining Wall Inspection Program and submit report to the Department based on completed inspection

Correcting Unsafe Conditions

The owner must:
Immediately repair the wall and/ or take appropriate measures to secure the safety of the public.

Within two weeks of completing the repairs to correct an unsafe condition, the QRWI must:
  • Inspect the premises
  • Obtain permit sign-offs as appropriate
  • Submit an amended report with the revised rating of the retaining wall. Amended report filing fees are also due at that time.

All repairs to correct an unsafe condition must be completed within 365 days of filing a report of an unsafe condition with the Department.
See RCNY §103-09(e) for more detailed information.

If Safe with Repairs and/ or Engineering Monitoring rating indicated

  1. If a QRWI determines a retaining wall to be Safe with Repair and/ or Engineering Monitoring the QRWI must indicate a time frame within which the recommended repairs should be completed.

  2. The owner of the retaining wall is responsible for ensuring that the wall is repaired and restored to a safe condition, and that all actions recommended by the QRWI are completed in the time frame recommended by the QRWI.

  3. The owner must notify the Department of any deviation from the recommended time frame and must submit an application to request time or a time extension after the expiration of a previous request using the forms(s) Initial Extension of Time Request (RWIP1) or the Additional Extension of Time Request (RWIP2). See RCNY §103-09(e) for more detailed information.

Submittal Requirements

Retaining wall inspection reports must be saved as PDF files onto a DVD, CD, or flash drive; paper reports will not be accepted. Submitted DVD/ CDs or flash drives must:

  1. Have retaining wall inspection reports in PDF titled/ named with an Address and a Building Identification Number (BIN), separated by a hyphen. See below examples:
    • In “280 Broadway-1079215”, the digits after the hyphen are the Building Identification Number.
    • Amended Inspection Reports should include a “-2” at the end: “280 Broadway-1079215-2”.
    • Subsequent Inspection Reports should include a “-S” at the end: “280 Broadway-1079215-S”.
    • No other characters must be included in file name. File must be named exactly as shown above.

  2. Have separate folders for: a) Unsafe rating reports; b) Amended reports; c) All other rating reports.

  3. Include PDF copies of the following items within the same file (which must also be printed and submitted with the DVD/ CD, flash drives):


  4. More than one report can be submitted on each DVD/CD, or flash drive.

If You Think You Are Not Required to File

If you think you have received the Notice of Violation in error, please fill out the attached form and email it to with all supporting documentation.

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