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New Responsibilities for NYC Cooperative and Condominium Board Members

2/6/19 | By: Marc J. Luxemburg, Esq.| GDB 2019 Winter Newsletter
Both New York State and New York City have recently enacted a number of laws that impose new responsibilities on the Boards of cooperatives and condominiums. We have previously reported on the State requirement to provide an annual conflict of interest report to shareholders or unit owners (Legal Update Summer 2018), and the City obligation to enact a smoking policy (Legal Update Spring 2018). Some of the other significant laws include:
 

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Both the State and the City have each recently enacted laws in regard to sexual harassment in the workplace that apply to coops and condos. State law applies to all employers, regardless of the number of employees:
 
  • Starting October 9, 2018, employers must distribute written anti-sexual harassment policies to all of their employees. Employers must adopt the State model policy or establish that their own policy provides all the required information.
  • Starting October 9, 2018, employers must provide annual anti-harassment training for all of their employees. The State will produce a model sexual harassment prevention training program.
  • The State Law also protects “non-employees,” such as contractors. An employer may be liable when the employer knew or should have known that the non-employee was subjected to sexual harassment in the employer’s workplace.
  • Employees are also protected against harassment by non-employees in the worksite.
  • New York City now requires all employers to display an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster designed by the City in common areas where employees gather. The City will develop an information sheet on sexual harassment that employers must distribute to employees at the time of hire.
  • Employers with 15 or more employees must conduct annual interactive anti-sexual harassment trainings for all employees, including supervisory and managerial employees, and for new hires effective April 1, 2019.
 
For those buildings within the five boroughs, it is necessary to comply with both the State and City programs.
 

FIRE SAFETY PLAN & NOTICE

The Fire Department has expanded the rules that require building owners to prepare and distribute fire safety plans to apartment occupants and building employees, and post fire safety notices in apartments and in the buildings' common areas.
 
Owners must prepare a fire safety plan containing information about the building's construction and its fire safety systems. It must also tell people how to get out of the building in the event of a fire. Owners must copy the plan from the Fire Department's sample fire safety plan.
 
Owners must annually distribute a copy of the fire safety plan to occupants, including those who move into the apartment, and building employees, either during Fire Prevention Week or with the annual window guard notice.
 
The Fire Department has also developed fire safety notices, which provide the procedures to follow if there is a fire. These notices must be posted in the building's common areas. The owners or proprietary lessees of the individual units in coops and condos are responsible for the posting of the fire emergency notice on the inside of their apartment doors.
 

BED BUG REPORTS

The NYC Administrative Code provides that the owner or occupant in control of a dwelling shall keep the premises free from rodents and insects. A recent law has now added two new requirements:

1) that the owner of the building must annually file with the Department of Health a bed bug report on an official form concerning which apartments had a bedbug infestation in the prior year (November to November); and
2) either provide each tenant upon commencement of a new lease a copy of the report and an approved notice of how to prevent bedbugs, or post the report and the notice in a prominent place in the building.
 
Another new requirement is that the building owner shall attempt to obtain a bedbug infestation history for the previous year from the tenant or prior owner, including whether eradication measures were employed.
 
The report is due in December for the prior year through November, starting December 2018.
 

GAS PIPING

Commencing January 1, 2019, building gas piping systems of most coops and condos will be required to be periodically inspected at least once every five years.
 
At each inspection, all exposed gas lines from point of entry into the building up to, but not including, individual tenant spaces, shall be inspected for excessive corrosion and non-code compliant installations. Public spaces shall be examined to determine if there is a gas leak.
If an inspection reveals any unacceptable conditions, the inspector shall notify the building owner, the utility and the fire department immediately and the building owner shall immediately take corrective action.
 
The Board must also deliver to each tenant and prospective tenant, and must post in a common area of the building, a notice regarding the procedures that should be followed when a gas leak is suspected.
 
Please note that if the gas is required to be shut off in order to cure an unacceptable condition, it may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of repairs to the system in order to get the gas turned back on. Boards would be advised to examine their gas piping now to see if any repairs may be needed in order to anticipate how to finance extensive repairs.