Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can create fires and explosions. It's important that you and your family know how to recognize a gas leak and what do if you suspect a leak. Recognize a gas leak by the following senses. 

Smell: A distinctive, strong odor similar to rotten eggs.

Sight: A white cloud, mist, fog, bubbles in standing water, blowing dust, or vegetation that appears to be dead or dying for no reason. 

Sound: A roaring, hissing, or whistling. 

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Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities

If you suspect a gas leak has occurred, take the following actions:

  1. Quickly open nearby doors and windows and then leave the building immediately; do not attempt to locate the leak. Do not turn on or off any electrical appliances, do not smoke or light matches or lighters, and do not use a house-phone or cell-phone within the building.
  2. After leaving the building, from a safe distance away from the building, call 911 immediately to report the suspected gas leak.
  3. After calling 911, call the gas service provider for this building.

Property owners are required to act to restore gas for heat and hot water and gas for cooking immediately once any of those services are disrupted. Tenants may be entitled to rent reductions for failure of a property owner to provide these services. Rent-regulated tenants should see the NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) website for more information regarding their rights.

Owner Requirements

Local Law 153 requires property owners to give each tenant and prospective tenant a Suspected Gas Leak Notice describing the procedures to be followed when a gas leak is suspected with the first lease or first lease renewal. Property owners may also choose to post the Combined Notice for smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors and gas leak notice.

Property owners are also required to act to restore gas for heat/hot water and gas for cooking immediately once any of those services are disrupted.

Once gas service is shut off for any reason, restoration of gas always requires:

  • a licensed plumber
  • filings with and inspections by the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB)
  • filing with and inspections by the utility company

All applications submitted must indicate whether the building is occupied and whether the building is rent-regulated, regardless of where in the building work will be performed.

If you believe that your plumber is not working safely, you should immediately inform DOB through 311 and the utility company.

Restoring Gas After the Gas is Shut Off

As a property owner it is important that you understand the process described below so that you can ensure that your licensed plumber is working properly towards quick restoration:

Your licensed plumber must start the restoration process immediately. The first step is for your plumber to file an Emergency Work Notice (EWN) with DOB. The EWN must request approval to complete emergency work to restore gas for heating and must clearly explain what work will be done. The plumber must ensure that existing equipment is legal when filing the EWN. If it is not legal, the filing for the EWN must include a statement that the plumber plans to remove the existing equipment or legalize the existing equipment (if possible).

  • For questions relating to the EWN, plumbers can contact DOB at 212-393-2557.
  • Plumbers can request extensions for the period in which an EWN is valid.
  • The EWN must be posted at the site at which work will be performed.

Within five days of the EWN approval, the plumber must file an application with DOB called a LAA. If the plumber fails to file the LAA, a Stop Work Order (SWO) may be issued by DOB, leading to longer delays. The LAA submitted to DOB must include plans for legalization, if previous equipment was not legal and is remaining. If work continues without an extension of the EWN or the filing and approval of an LAA, a SWO may be issued, again resulting potentially in fines and causing additional delays in restoring gas and subjecting you to additional civil penalties for HPD violations.

Before gas can be restored, a pressure test must be performed to ensure that the piping can hold the pressure of the gas. DOB must be on site with your plumber to witness the pressure test. DOB will usually perform an inspection within 2-5 days of a plumber request for inspection. If the test doesn’t hold, then a re-pipe may be needed if the system is old or if the leak cannot be identified. New lines cannot be run in the public areas. Your plumber should know from Con Edison/National Grid whether the gas meters must be moved to the basement. Typical failure issues for a pressure test include:

  • Test doesn’t hold
  • Unapproved material used
  • Piping/meter installed in a prohibited location
  • Work performed does not match work on application

Your plumber can request a milestone inspection with DOB when work is in progress. You may want to have this milestone inspection to confirm that the work being done will be acceptable, rather than wait until work is almost completed only to find out that some requirement has not been satisfied.

Other Gas Related Issues

Property owners who are planning to convert from a central heating plant to an electric heater or to individual gas powered heating units must comply with all requirements under the Building Code, including making all required filings and receiving all required approvals and permits. Such conversions must be completed by licensed plumbers and electricians. Costs for providing the heat cannot be passed on to rent-stabilized tenants.

Property owners who are planning to convert from central gas cooking to electric cooking also must comply with all requirements under the Building Code, including making all required filings and receiving all required approvals and permits. Such conversions must be completed by licensed plumbers and electricians. Costs for the provision of cooking gas cannot be passed on to rent-regulated tenants.

Additional Resources