New Requirements Regarding Stove Knobs
Effective December 12, 2018, per Local Law 117 of the City of New York, the owner of a unit in a multiple dwelling must provide to its tenant(s) stove knob covers for each knob located on the front of each gas-powered stove where the owner knows or reasonably should know that a child under six years of age resides in the unit. Owners must also provide stove knob covers in a unit without a child under age six if the tenant requests them.
Please note that stove knob covers are not required for co-op units or condominium units used as the owner’s primary residence. However, if the co-op unit or condominium unit is tenant-occupied, stove knob covers are required where the owner knows or reasonably should know that a child under six years of age resides in the unit or the tenant requests them.
Annual Notice Required
In addition, the owner is required to provide tenants with an annual notice. The annual notice must inform tenants that:
• stove knob covers will be made available within thirty days of distributing the annual notice;
• the owner must provide stove knob covers to any household that requests them, regardless of whether a child resides in the unit; and
• tenants can forego stove knob covers through written refusal to the landlord. If a tenant does not submit a written refusal to the owner, the owner is still obligated to provide stove knob covers to any household where the owner knows or reasonably should know that a child under age six resides in the unit.
It is the owner’s obligation to keep documented proof of (i) written notifications of refusal of stove knob covers received from a tenant; (ii) the owner’s attempts to provide stove knob covers to tenants; (iii) a list of units for which stove knob covers were made available; and (iv) a list of tenants who have requested stove knob covers.
Failure to provide stove knob covers by an owner who is required to do so will result in a Class B hazardous violation. Exceptions will be granted to owners that provide documented proof that they have already fulfilled two requests for replacement stove knob covers within the previous year or that there are no available stove knob covers that are compatible with the knobs on their dwelling units’ stoves.
Who is the “Owner”?
The problem with Local Law 117 is that the term “Owner” is not defined by the statute. Does the term “Owner” refer to the board of either a cooperative or condominium or does the term apply to the individual shareholder of a cooperative unit or the individual unit owner of a condominium unit? It is unsettled.
Until a precedent develops, we believe that the term “Owner” in the context of Local Law 117, refers to the individual shareholder of a cooperative unit or the individual unit owner of a condominium unit, and not to the board. Accordingly, unless the cooperative or condominium board directly leases a unit, then the board is not obligated to provide such stove knob covers or to send such annual notice.
Advice to Boards
However, we advise that a reminder notice be sent to all shareholders and unit owners who sublease or lease their units of the requirements under Local Law 117 and their expected compliance.
We also advise conditioning the board’s consent or waiver of the right of first refusal to any sublease or lease upon Local Law 117 compliance by the shareholder and unit owner. We further advise that the Local Law 117 notice be included in all sublease or lease application packages.
Lastly, a more conservative approach is to include the Local Law 117 notice amongst the other compliance notices sent to all shareholders and unit owners (i.e. window guard notice, fire safety notice, and NYC lead paint notice).