April may have been the cruelest month for T.S. Eliot, but to New York City co-op and condo boards, it’s always been February – specifically, February once every five years. That was the deadline by which every building over six stories had to have filed its Local Law 11/98 building-façade inspection report with the Department of Buildings (DOB) and complete any mandated repairs. Some 12,000 buildings citywide – most of them having put off repairs the way kids put off homework – were generally scrambling before the deadline to have architects, engineers, contractors, and others finish up or even just start work.
Co-op and condo boards and rental landlords can now breathe a collective sigh of relief and not just because the most recent cycle ended this past February 21. On August 2, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a City Council bill, Intro 550-A/2007, authored by Councilman Dan Garodnick. This amendment to the city’s administrative code “allows the buildings department to stagger the deadline for building owners to file façade-inspection reports,” says DOB spokesperson Kate Lindquist. “The buildings department is working on a new rule, to be promulgated by 2009, that will determine the new filing deadlines.”
Stephen Varone, president of Rand Engineering & Architecture, was among those who testified in favor of the change. “Instead of having all the buildings face the same deadline on the same day once every five years, the deadlines will be staggered for one-fifth of the buildings each year for five years,” he notes. The updated law “puts it to the buildings department on how best to implement it, whether it’s by borough, by the age of a building, by block lot, whatever.”
The change becomes formal law on July 1, 2008, with the DOB commissioner required to established staggered inspection cycles by January 1, 2009.