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Comments on the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development Proposed Rules on Stove Knob Covers
October 29, 2018
As the City’s leading real estate trade association, the Real Estate Board of New York (“REBNY”) submits these comments on behalf of its membership which is comprised of commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers and brokers. REBNY has the following comments to offer:
Local Law 117 of 2018 requires owners of multiple dwellings, with certain exceptions, to provide stove knob covers for gas-powered stoves to tenants of units where a child below the age of six resides. Owners must provide annual notice surveying applicable units and informing tenants of their obligation under the law. Owners must also collect responses, holding records for up to five years.
The law requires owners to make the covers available within 30 days of providing an annual notice. The 30-day timeframe is unreasonable and does not allow enough processing time for owners, especially large owners with thousands of units. A 30-day timeframe presents an onerous administrative burden for owners to send collect, and distribute covers. If a tenant responds beyond the 30-day timeframe indicating a child below the age of six resides, would the owner still be required to provide the covers? HPD should consider increasing the length of time to allow tenants enough time to respond to the notices and owners enough time to collect them. Lastly, to lessen the administrative burden on owners, the rule should mirror the timing of other required annual notices, such as window guard and lead notices, which are typically sent out between January 1 and January 15.
This rule requires owners to maintain records for an unreasonably long five-year period. Not only will owners be required to keep documentation proving a child of applicable age resides, but they will also need to keep records certifying they provided the covers to each suitable unit. Simply put, there is no justification for this requirement. A simple, digital verification method would be preferable to this requirement.
Cooperatives & Condominiums
It is unclear how this law affects cooperatives and condominiums. The rules suggest stove knob covers should be provided to tenants and subtenants in condominiums and cooperatives, excluding shareholders and unit owners. Would unit owners and shareholders—and not boards—be required to comply with the law? It would be helpful to clarify if cooperatives and condominiums are truly exempt from the requirements set out by this law.
The rule goes beyond the law by requiring owners to distribute the covers in any household that requests the covers, regardless of whether a child resides in the unit. The law was intended to ensure units are safe from potential fires where children reside; the law should not require owners to provide covers beyond the intent of the law. In yet another example, the rules state that owners are only required to provide replacement stove knob covers twice within any one-year period. Requiring owners to provide covers multiple times a year goes beyond the law, adding unnecessary costs to the maintenance of a building if multiple units need replacements. Stove knob covers are a reasonably attainable cost for a single family to bear; it is not a burden that should be placed on a landlord. Lastly, the rules should deem a lack of response to the notice as the tenant forfeiting the covers.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with HPD to make further amendments to this rule.