Once a property is fully occupied and stabilized it is easy to simply lose focus or ignore the occupied units. That, unfortunately, is a practice which is not in the best interest of a property owner. In New York City it is necessary to physically inspect for smoke detectors. It is important for property management companies to understand the importance of using the inspection as a tool for inspecting other aspects of the building as well. Specifically, Local Law 112 amended article 312 of chapter 3 of title 28 the Administrative Code to require owners to replace required smoke alarms when they exceed the manufacturer’s suggested useful life. Alarms installed before the effective date of the law (April 1, 2014) must be replaced by the later of six months after the effective date of the law or the expiration of the manufacturer’s suggested useful life
of the alarm. A smoke alarm installed before the effective date and whose end of useful life isn’t known must be replaced with an compliant alarm within seven years of April 1, 2014. And all newly installed alarms must be equipped with an audible “end of life” warning device and with a non-removable, non-replaceable battery that powers the alarm for a minimum of 10 years. A longlife
battery sealed inside an alarm makes it virtually tamper proof and eliminates the risk of tenants disabling the alarm. The law also amended the Housing Maintenance Code to clarify owner and tenant responsibilities. Owners are required to inform tenants of the owner’s duty to replace expired alarms, and tenants are required to reimburse owners for such.
This inspection is also great opportunity to do a more thorough inspection, thereby protecting the property and addressing any potential liability issues. It is an opportunity to assess parts of physical property often ignored. While the periodic inspection requirements from other municipalities may be different, the discipline of performing a six-month inspection is a very good idea.
During the inspection process an owner or property manager can look beyond the smoke detectors at other aspects of the property to ensure that each tenant is taking care of the property and that there are no situations which require the owner’s attention, such as illegal roommates or the tenants doing excessive damage to the property. The six-month inspection can also be used to check all the plumbing fixtures to make sure that they are working properly and to make sure that, even more importantly, they are not leaking thereby causing excessive utility charges to the owner.
This inspection also presents a very good opportunity to look for mildew or mold in a unit. An owner can easily take the time to look at the likely places, under the sinks and in the bathrooms where there’s plumbing and moisture gathering. The early detection of mildew is a huge benefit as it allows the owner to address the situation before it becomes problematic and before it becomes a problem with the tenant. During an inspection an owner can also look at the door locks to make sure they’re secure, as well as the latches and locks on the screens and windows to ensure the safety of the tenant and also address potential landlord liability. Whether you are in apartment building management, property management of co-op and condos and residential property management it is always a good idea to use this process.