There are a lot of things to think about if you’re renting with children in NYC: Schools, layouts, bedroom and bathroom counts — all are important. But the most important thing is safety. In NYC apartments, there are two major child-related safety concerns for which your landlord will have full responsibility: lead-based paint inspections and window guards. Here’s a guide about what to watch for with each, and how to take action if there’s a problem.
Lead-based paint is especially dangerous for children because when exposed, it can lead to physical and mental developmental problems. The good news is that since these dangers are well-known, newer buildings will not have lead-based paint. For structures built prior to 1960, however, hazards associated with these paints are presumed to exist. While the presence of lead-based paint is not inherently dangerous, it can become a serious hazard when it peels or turns to dust and becomes easier for children to ingest.
When a child under the age of 6 lives an apartment with presumed lead-based paint hazards, it becomes the landlord’s responsibility to visually inspect the property once a year. Additionally, if any hazards are reported by the tenant, the landlord must addresses the issue immediately. This can be done by hiring contractors to remove the peeling paint without causing dust. Again, fixing the paint and paying all associated costs is the responsibility of the landlord.
If a landlord doesn’t comply with these standards, tenants can file a complaint with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development by calling 311.
Falling out of a window is a major risk for children in multistory apartment buildings. That’s why any apartment with children under the age of 10 is required to have window guards, which keep children from being able to squeeze through and fall out. For some types of windows, they even prevent windows from opening beyond a certain range. Every year during lease renewal, the property owner is required to send a notice to the tenant to validate whether window guards are required.
A property owner will generally know whether window guards are required during the rental application process. However, if a tenant moves in and doesn’t yet see window guards installed, they should contact the owner immediately and request that they be installed. Also, a tenant may find that window guards have been poorly installed or have come loose. This should be reported right away.
If for any reason a tenant is receiving a lack of sufficient response, they can file a complaint by dialing 311.
How to Contact the Owner
If you live in a professionally managed rental building, contact the management company with concerns over lead-based paint and window guards. If renting in a condo or co-op directly from an individual unit owner, contact them directly.
If you have a young child, make sure you take these precautions about lead-based paint and window guards seriously. When you take things seriously, so will the landlord, ensuring your child’s safety. If you ever feel that your needs are not being acted on, don’t hesitate to contact 311 to file a complaint. For more detailed information, read The ABCs of Housing, published by New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development.
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