Marianne Schaefer in Bricks & Bucks on September 30, 2020
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has extended the amnesty period for its Facade Inspections and Safety Program (FISP) to October 31, 2020. The amnesty program is open only to building owners who failed to file a report for Cycle 8 before their deadline. The amnesty program, which will not be extended any further, allows owners to close Cycle 8 with their Cycle 9 report.
“We recently filed a report for a co-op in the West Village,” says Eric Cowley, president of Cowley Engineering. “They had missed the deadline for the 8th Cycle completely, out of negligence. Meanwhile, the 9th Cycle came due. This amnesty allows us to file for the 9th Cycle, instead of filing for the 8th and then turning around and immediately starting with the 9th. This is why the amnesty is a good thing. You do not have to file back-to-back reports.”
Under FISP, formerly known as Local Law 11, owners of all buildings taller than six stories must inspect their facades every five years and file a report on necessary repairs with the DOB. Each five-year cycle is divided into three staggered sub-cycles, dubbed A, B and C, two-year-long windows when reports must be filed.
While the amnesty program allows owners to skip Cycle 8 and just file for Cycle 9, there is a catch. The DOB will accept FISP reports only if all outstanding fines and violations are paid upfront. Because owners can now file early for Cycle 9, those in sub-cycles B (Feb. 21, 2021 to Feb. 21, 2023) and C (Feb. 21, 2022 to Feb. 21, 2024) can avoid additional fines and late fees that would have accumulated if they had waited for their sub-cycles to open up.
“We have this condo on the Upper West Side in the B sub-cycle, and without this amnesty they would not have been allowed to file their report until February 2021,” says Bree DePalo, chief operations manager at Cowley Engineering. “Their 8th Cycle report was submitted and rejected. By the time they resubmitted the report, the 8th Cycle was closed, and they would’ve been hit with all sorts of fines and late fees until 2021. Because of the amnesty, they are allowed to file their 9th Cycle report early and not amass another six months of late fees. But the DOB is also getting something out of it. In this case, the DOB got $14,000 in late fees upfront.”
The DOB recently increased late fees from $250 to $1,000 a month. “People who take advantage of this amnesty might see $20,000 to $30,000 in savings, if not more,” says Gene Ferrara, president of JMA Consultants. Once again, there’s a catch. “They also have to go to the DOB in person and pay up all the money for the violations, every penny they owe. And it’s probably not the amount on the website. They have to go to the facade commission and get the exact amount because there is a problem with their computer system. Right now, what you see on the DOB website is not the correct amount of violations. In most instances, it’s more.”
The amnesty is most important for building owners in the C sub-cycle who have not filed their report for Cycle 8. “This is a big advantage for people who did not do what they should’ve done on time,” Ferrara says. “This is their last chance to save a lot of money.”
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