Landlords have a legal obligation to maintain habitable conditions in residential buildings, including following storm-related or other damage. Habitable conditions include providing essential services like electricity, hot water and heat (during the coldest months of the year), and ensuring that physical conditions do not threaten the life, health, or safety of tenants.
Preparing your building(s) and residents for a weather emergency, natural disaster or power outage is critical. For links and resources on how to get ready, go to the NYC Emergency Management Preparing for Emergencies and refer to the Residential Building Owner Emergency Preparedness Punchlist.
Get Ready for an Emergency
Develop an Emergency Evacuation Plan, and communicate it to all tenants and post it throughout the building:
- Include relocation contingencies, such as location of nearest emergency shelter, available units in other buildings within your portfolio, transportation for tenants, etc.;
- Consider implementing site security as needed, and;
- Follow Disaster Signage Requirements (see below).
Check in on your tenants before and after the event to see if assistance is required. If you house vulnerable populations, also be sure to:
- Have up-to-date contact information for tenants and their families,
- Have a plan for maintaining necessary on-site services. The City might have special assistance for these individuals if they choose to shelter in place.
Implement a resiliency plan:
- Consider access to a generator and mobile steam unit, how much fuel is stored, how to keep hallways and stairwells lit, etc.
Register your building with HPD so we can reach you with important information about assistance during an emergency:
- Go to Property Registration.
- Provide an accurate 24-hour confidential phone number that will be answered before and in the aftermath of an event. Provide an email address if you have one.
Emergency Planning and Evacuations
Consider and address emergency preparedness issues with building residents, as well as building staff. This includes:
- Distributing fire and non-fire emergency preparedness guide and posting notices
- Collecting information on what your tenants with disabilities, access, and functional needs may require during an emergency
- Communicating clearly with your tenants
- Monitoring emergency notification systems
- Elevator notifications and keep elevators in use as long as possible prior to landfall of a storm or an evacuation
- Reviewing the Fire Department’s NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide to decide how building staff will address each type of emergency listed
- Providing emergency preparedness information to tenants
For specifics and more information, review the Emergency Planning and Evacuations for Residential Buildings Owners/Managers guide.
Respond to an Emergency
Have your managing agent or superintendent conduct an immediate assessment of your property post-event.
- HPD and other city agencies may be contacting you, or conducting physical inspections of the property to see if there is damage to the property.
If the City contacts you by phone or email, respond quickly and appropriately.
- Assistance will reach you faster, or, if you do not require assistance, City resources can be properly directed.
Communicate with your tenants:
- If your building has sustained damage and you are working on making repairs, let your tenants know, especially if you are experiencing delays.
- Keep tenants informed of repair progress and let them know of any intermediary solutions you can provide.
- If heat is affected, please take any steps recommended by your plumbers or other professionals to keep pipes from freezing, as this may cause additional damage to your property and further delay restoration of services.
- See below for Disaster Signage Requirements.
Landlords are typically responsible for arranging repair work and applying for federal reimbursement following a natural disaster. For federal assistance through FEMA, go to DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
Resolve Housing Code Violations ASAP. The City will issue Notices of Violation (NOV) to owners and landlords of buildings that have failed to meet the City’s Housing Maintenance Code. Building owners have three options for resolving a NOV:
- For new violations, owners may correct the conditions and submit a timely certification, online or in the mail to HPD:
- If the violation is overdue, owners must submit a Dismissal Request or Violation Reissuance Request to HPD.
- In cases where owners fail to make the repairs themselves, HPD may use private contractors to make the necessary repairs to restore essential services. The cost of the emergency repairs may be billed to the owner and may become a tax lien on the property if not paid.
HPD recognizes that, in some storm-related cases, repairs of violations may be delayed due to post-storm logistical difficulties and scarcity of appropriate resources. If you receive a NOV for a class C violation, HPD will consider forbearance of any enforcement action if HPD determines that the condition is storm- related and is being corrected as soon as possible.
- To request forbearance, please respond to the NOV with details regarding the cause of the condition and your remediation plan, including your efforts to procure appropriate repair services and/or a letter from a vendor indicating when and how repairs will be conducted.
- Note that, where tenant health and safety are at risk, HPD may need to perform emergency repairs notwithstanding a request for forbearance that meets the conditions described above. You may contact HPD at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-863-6020.
Disaster Signage Requirements
Local Law 98 of 2013 requires owners to post a temporary notice with emergency information in the common area of the building:
- Prior to the arrival of a weather emergency
- After a natural disaster
- After being informed that a utility outage will last for more than 24 hours.
To further ensure that tenants receive notification of the above, consider posting the temporary notices on each floor of the building and/or messaging your tenants directly.
The sign needs to be in at least 11-point type and contain all the information provided in the Emergency Notification sample, including whether the posting is due to a Building Utility Outage, Emergency Evacuation Event or High Wind Event. Signage should be updated by the owner as needed, and removed after the weather emergency, natural disaster, or utility outage has ended.